Another day, another mock draft—including another one from Pro Football Focus, who first posted a mock draft from Steve Palazzolo, and how has one up from Ben Linsey, going up live yesterday. You can rest assured that there will be many more mock drafts between now and the real draft, and we’ll be examining the trends that develop relative to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
One obvious trend is a pretty consistent connection to the offensive line, as we have seen many mocks during the early portions of the offseason—before the Super Bowl has even been played—landing an offensive lineman in Pittsburgh with their first-round pick. Linsey’s is yet another in that vein.
With Alejandro Villanueva and Matt Feiler, their two best starting tackles in recent years, both being pending unrestricted free agents, and younger players such as Chukwuma Okorafor and Zach Banner having yet to distinguish themselves, it would behoove the team to upgrade at the outside position, and they do so here with Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State:
Pittsburgh once had one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, but needs have quickly popped up across the line. If nothing else, the addition of Jenkins here would help kickstart a running game that was nonexistent in 2020. Jenkins’ 93.6 run-blocking grade this past year at Oklahoma State was no joke — he’s a strong man who can impose his will in the run game.
Jenkins could slide in at either tackle spot for the Steelers, as Alejandro Villanueva is set to hit free agency and there is no entrenched starter at the right tackle spot heading into 2021. While Jenkins played most of his Oklahoma State career at right tackle, he did log nearly 500 snaps on the left side, as well.
Linsey isn’t the first person to drop Jenkins in Pittsburgh. Earlier this offseason, we covered Daniel Jeremiah’s first mock draft of the cycle, and he also had the big man landing with the Steelers with the 24th-overall pick. You can read more details about him there.
At this point, Pittsburgh really just needs an injection of talent at a position in which they have not made major investments in some time. The only selection that they have used along the offensive line during the first two days of the draft going back to 2012 was the addition of Okorafor in the third round in 2018.
More recently, they used a fourth-round pick on guard Kevin Dotson in 2020, who looks like he will be a starter sooner rather than later. They also used a fourth-round pick on tackle Jerald Hawkins in 2016, who was previously traded but found his way back last year following an injury-plagued career.
Pittsburgh has been lucky to get by through the development of some diamonds in the rough in the intervening years, like Villanueva and Feiler, both former undrafted free agents whom they did not even originally sign.
That bought them some time, but with so much of their former core now already gone or nearing the end, it’s time to invest. And new offensive line coach Adrian Klemm can certainly use all the help he can get for a unit that has already been trending in the wrong direction for the past few years.