It’s always smart to wait until the final month to talk about the Steelers’ draft needs.
We’ve finally hit the month of April, and the 2021 NFL Draft is now just over three weeks away.
It was about two weeks ago that I finally got off my butt (or, more accurately, planted it in front of my laptop) and started to really get into the prospects and who I thought the Steelers might select with the 24th pick. When it comes to that, you might say I’m lazy, but I like to think I’m a man of my word. You see, it’s my approach to draft coverage each year and always will be.
I’m very honest about my routine and have lots of reasons for this policy.
For one thing, even after the Steelers’ season officially ends, I still stay super focused on the NFL playoffs, a tournament that often isn’t over until a month later. For another thing, I love football; I look forward to the start of each season the way kids do their summer vacations. I just hate to see the football season end, and I want to squeeze every last ounce of excitement out of it while I can—even if the Steelers aren’t main characters in the final chapters.
Third, except for a few prospects, the stocks of these guys rise and fall so much between early January and the actual draft, I figure there is no point in paying attention until around now—and even now, it’s like trying to gauge the local daily weather forecast by watching all three news affiliates. Have you seen these big boards? Have you seen where Alabama quarterback Mac Jones is ranked on all of them? He’s all over the place. He’s up; he’s down. That goes for a lot of these guys; trying to predict where most will go is akin to attempting to catch a butterfly on a windy day.
Fourth—and this might be the most important reason of all to wait—no matter which answer I come up with for the “So, who do you think the Steelers will draft?” question, there is always backlash—especially on the Internet. I know what you might be thinking. Sure, arguing about sports with your friends is fun, but the Internet is so not your friend. My friends don’t say things like, “Your opinion is trash; it’s garbage. It’s both trash and garbage at the same time, which I never knew was possible.” “I used to love coming to your house, but I rarely want to hang out here anymore, because your opinions are nothing but garbage.” “I don’t know who owns this house, these days, but they should be embarrassed at what a dump it has turned into.”
Also, your friends don’t call you from burner phones and use aliases as they badger you for a month over an opinion you may have had about a center.
And, of course, you don’t have to take restraining orders out on your friends or ban them from your home after your latest mock draft.
So, no, it’s not quite the same as arguing about sports with your friends.
Fifth—and this might be the most sensible reason to wait—the first major wave of free agency often has a way of narrowing down the direction the Steelers may go in the draft.
For example, after the Steelers signed Eric Ebron last year to be their number two tight end opposite Vance McDonald, you could accurately assume the position was off their draft board. Sure enough, they didn’t select one at all.
This year, after the Steelers made no major free-agent moves, you can point to six positions—offensive tackle, center, running back, tight end, inside linebacker and even cornerback—as possible round-one targets. No, free agency didn’t answer many questions for the Steelers, but now that we know that, we can research their draft needs with a much broader scope than we did last year.
In conclusion, I realize I still might have to deal with all the aforementioned pre-draft annoyances—especially those pesky restraining orders. However, by waiting, I only have to do so for the final month.
That, my friend, is the best draft value.