With less than two weeks to go until the 2021 NFL Draft gets underway in Cleveland, former Alabama center Landon Dickerson is back in the news cycle quite a bit. Especially when it comes to him possibly being the first-round selection of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Most of this news cycle run about Dickerson stems from NFL insider Tony Pauline saying on Monday that the former Alabama center is one of three players the Steelers are considering to be their first-round selection. This despite having a lot of medical flags hovering above him.
NFL Network analyst and former NFL offensive lineman Brian Baldinger was on 93.7 The Fan Tuesday. During his interview that centered around several players the Steelers might be interested in selecting in the 2021 NFL Draft, he talked quite a bit about Dickerson. Specifically about how he wouldn’t have any issue making him a first round pick this year.
“My favorite lineman in this whole draft, and I know he’s got an injury history, but there’s no better lineman in this draft than Landon Dickerson at Alabama,” Baldinger said on Tuesday. “I mean, he’s massive guy, you know, for a center, to take over. I mean the Steelers, nobody has produced centers like the Steelers have. If you want to produce the next great Steeler center, look at Landon Dickerson. I mean he changed that whole culture at Alabama. He’s as close to Quenton Nelson as I’ve seen over the last three years coming out of college. Nasty. I mean drives your bucket right into the dirt, makes you eat a little grass. A powerful guy, massive and just a great teammate. I mean, that guy is going to be a great football player, if he can stay healthy.”
If Dickerson can stay healthy is the biggest fear when it comes to his draft stock. He suffered two ACL injuries and sustained season-ending ankle injuries in 2017 and 2018 when he was at Florida State. On top of that, Dickerson is currently still recovering from his second ACL tear that he sustained in the 2020 SEC Championship game.
While Baldinger is well aware of the medical red flags that surround Dickerson ahead of the 2021 NFL Draft, he said Tuesday he would still select the Alabama product in the first round if given the chance to do so.
“Look, I mean, it’s a conversation and you know, the doctor’s got to say, is he injury prone, could his ACL go? I don’t know how to answer that question,” Baldinger said. “I mean, I saw Anthony Munoz have two ACLs in college at USC. Never had an injury to his knee for his time in Cincinnati and right to the Hall of Fame. You know, it’s just hard to say. I tore my ACL in college. I had problems with my knee. I really didn’t have many problems once I started playing in the NFL. I got bigger, stronger, understood about it. Understood a lot of things about it.”
“I understand that some teams might just take him off the board and just eliminate the temptation, but I wouldn’t be one of those teams. I’d investigate. I put him through a series of battery of tests and all that because I would do everything I could to get him on my football team.”
Baldinger obviously isn’t a doctor. As for the real doctors who work NFL teams, at this point you would have to imagine they have all put Dickerson through whatever battery of tests they feel are necessary to make the best decision when it comes to his draftability. Especially when it comes to the early rounds.
According to Pauline’s Tuesday morning report, “several teams” are poised to avoid Dickerson altogether until after the fifth round due to his injury concerns. That would be some sort of freefall for the Alabama center. He was considered a second-round talent at worst prior to his most recent knee injury.
How will the draft ultimately play out for Dickerson, and will he wind up being a Steelers’ selection this year? Time will certainly tell for sure in the next few weeks. In the meantime, however, there are certainly draft analysts who believe Dickerson is worth the risk of a pick. Even a first-round pick.