The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion — though the wrong kind of spectacular — in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Who will the Steelers select in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft?
There couldn’t be a more obvious question to ask for today, given that the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is being held today. It also doesn’t hurt that it’s been two years since the Steelers have last made a selection in the first round, trading up to pick 10 for Devin Bush in 2019, so there might be even more anticipation than usual.
While conventional wisdom has largely narrowed things down to two Alabama names — running back Najee Harris or center Landon Dickerson — the reality is that, depending on how the board falls, it’s really quite open. A defensive player like Asante Samuel, Jr. at cornerback or EDGE Azeez Ojulari are both distinct possibilities.
What is unlikely, I think, is that we will see the Steelers move up or down, though that’s not exactly out of the ordinary. They have moved their past two draft picks (including trading the last one away entirely). That is not their norm, and they have pretty much already said they don’t plan on moving.
Running back and offensive line, particularly center, are almost inarguably the Steelers’ two largest immediate needs. Both positions have seen their starter depart without meaningful replacement. Harris and Dickerson also just make logical sense. It would be the least surprising thing if one of them ends up here. But there are still a number of very realistic targets to consider, as well.