As we prepare to turn the calendar to the month of April, when the 2021 NFL Draft is set to take place in Cleveland, we are beginning to get a clearer picture of where teams stand in terms of their positional needs. Though things will continue to change even up until the moment of the draft—and during it—we should already have a general idea of where major needs are.
For a team like the Pittsburgh Steelers, it will largely be focused on replacing players lost, or still expected to be lost. Some of the top positions to have been associated with the team this offseason have been running back and offensive line, with which many are on board.
For those people, Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s seven-round mock draft shared earlier today fits in right with that narrative, as he has the team coming out of the third round with a new starting running back and a pair of offensive linemen.
His mock class is headed by running back Travis Etienne out of Clemson, of whom he writes, “he’s the type of difference-maker the Steelers need to improve their running game. He has the ability to break off long runs. He’s a three-down back with improved hands, and he has the size to learn how to become a better pass protector”.
With the retirement of center Maurkice Pouncey, the free agency loss of left guard Matt Feiler, and the pending future of free agent left tackle Alejandro Villanueva, it’s reasonable to expect the Steelers to use multiple draft picks to address the offensive line. Whether or not it comes within the first three rounds ad Fittipaldo’s mock does remains to be seen.
He has the team drafting center Creed Humphrey out of Oklahoma in the second round, and tackle James Hudson out of Cincinnati in round three. Humphrey’s competition for a starting job would be B.J. Finney and J.C. Hassenauer, so it’s more than reasonable to believe he could be a day-one starter, but Hudson is more of a developmental player.
Over the course of the third day of the draft, Fittipaldo has them going defense-heavy at first, then finishing up at the skill positions late. Their fourth-round pick is cornerback Kary Vincent out of LSU, while they double down on linebackers, both inside and outside, with Janarius Robinson and K.J. Britt, of Florida State and Auburn, respectively.
The Steelers have lost Bud Dupree and Olasunkanmi Adeniyi on the outside in free agency, so it would be expected for them to add somebody like Robinson there. With Vince Williams’ release, Britt looks like a tempting prospect as well.
Even with the re-signing of JuJu Smith-Schuster, he still has the team taking a wide receiver in round seven with Dazz Newsome out of North Carolina, who can play in the slot and serve as return man. They finally go tight end with pick number 256 in Tony Poljan out of Virginia.