In his latest mock draft for CBS Sports, author Chris Trapasso has the Pittsburgh Steelers going a conventional route at #24. He has the team taking Alabama LT Alex Leatherwood. In describing the selection, he writes:
“Leatherwood can play multiple spots up front but would stand in at one of the tackle spots immediately in Pittsburgh.”
Leatherwood is part of a strong offensive tackle class, one that could see nine or ten selected in the first round alone. As Trapasso notes, he’s also versatile, spending the first half of his college career at right guard before kicking out to left tackle after Jonah Williams declared for the draft. Leatherwood excelled at both spots and in 2020, won the Outland Trophy for college football’s best linemen on either side of the ball. Past winners of that award include Brandon Scherff, Aaron Donald, and Joe Thomas.
In our Josh Carney’s scouting report of Leatherwood, linked below, he sums him up this way:
“I really believe Leatherwood is in the discussion for OT2 in this class behind Oregon’s Penei Sewell, but with his struggles in pass protection it will drop him slightly.
He’s best suited to head to a team that emphasizes the run game and wants a physically dominating run blocker at tackle.”
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is underdoing major changes for the first time in nearly a decade. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is likely to walk in free agency, center Maurkice Pouncey retired, and left guard Matt Feiler is also a pending free agent. It’s unclear if he will re-sign with the team. The Steelers will undoubtedly work to improve their 32nd ranked run game. But they may not be so quick to address offensive tackle. If the Steelers truly are comfortable with Zach Banner at left tackle with Chukwuma Okorafor at right tackle, they probably won’t address offensive tackle so early this April. To better the run game, their focus will shift towards addressing center and running back instead.
So while I did have Leatherwood at #24 in my mock draft, I’ve now reduced the odds Pittsburgh targets that position. Especially after Kevin Colbert called this a deep tackle class, signaling they could wait until later on Day Two or even Day Three.
The more likely Alabama player to get selected by the Steelers at #24 is RB Najee Harris. Harris didn’t even appear in the first round of CBS’ mock draft, a surprising choice given most mocks have Harris going somewhere in the first round. The Steelers are reportedly interested in Harris and if he’s still on the board at #24, there’s a good chance he’s their pick.