Are we there, yet?
Now that the 2021 Pro Day circuit has all but come to a close, it’s finally time for me to release my first Pittsburgh Steelers mock draft of the offseason. If you must know, I did not use any simulator for this mock draft. Instead I just went off of my own rankings and where I think players should or might be drafted, and where I think the Steelers might draft them.
As usual, I urge you to critique the players I have in this mock and not the round or overall selection I have them being drafted. It gets tiresome having readers focus more on a player not being in a certain round or spot than discussing the player in general and if he would fit with the Steelers. It makes for a better exercise for all of us if you do that. Tell me what you like, dislike or hope to learn more about each player.
1st Round (24th Overall) — RB Najee Harris — Alabama – Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert was essentially given orders from team president Art Rooney II earlier this offseason to fix the running game. Because of that, we should expect the Steelers to select a running back in the first two rounds of this year’s draft, and quite possibly with their first selection at 24th overall. I’m not sure the Steelers could have any more fingerprints on Harris at this point as they have seemed to be all over him since the Senior Bowl. Outside of Harris’ age, the Alabama product checks all the boxes needed to be the Steelers’ first pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. If he falls to the Steelers, it’s hard seeing them not pick him. In my opinion, it’s going to be either Harris or Clemson running back Travis Etienne at 24th overall for the Steelers.
2nd Round (55th Overall) — TE Pat Freiermuth — Penn State – While 55h overall is a bit rich for my blood when it comes to Freiermuth, I think the Steelers really like him and thus will not be afraid to pull the trigger on him in the second round. While Freiermuth has been compared to former Steelers tight end Heath Miller several times by some notable major media draftniks, he’s not as near as well polished coming out of Penn State. Freiermuth’s blocking is adequate enough that he should be able to get on the field right away and help with the running game. The Steelers sorely need a second tight end in this draft that can do it all and be paired with Eric Ebron, and I think they will draft one this year. Maybe they could even get Freiermuth a round later.
3rd Round (87th Overall) — ILB Baron Browning — Ohio State – As much as I would like to see the Steelers go all offense with their first three or four selections in this year’s draft, I am betting that won’t happen. They do need another young inside linebacker to pair with Devin Bush, and Browning would seem to fit that for them. He checks a lot of boxes for the Steelers from the Senior Bowl and on. He’s a SPARQy kid, at that. I have Browning as a Top 100 player in this year’s draft and just inside of that line in the sand. He could contribute on special teams to start and then attempt to compete for more defensive playing time as 2021 rolls on.
4th Round (128th — C/G Quinn Meinerz — Wisconsin-Whitewater – Meinerz is one of my favorite players in this year’s draft class, and that probably goes the same for most of you reading this mock draft. A guard by nature, Meinerz will likely make the move inside to center at the NFL level, and that’s where I see him fitting in with the Steelers. He showed at the Senior Bowl that he can more than compete despite being a small school product and one that did not play in 2020. His draft stock should be late third round to late fourth round, and that should put him in an area where the Steelers can grab him. His ability to play all three interior offensive line spots as a rookie while he learns center would be a huge plus.
4th Round (140th — T Tommy Doyle — Miami (OH) – Yes, I waited a long time to finally address the tackle position, but I think getting Doyle, a MAC product, in the fourth round in what is deemed a deep tackle class would be worth the wait. Doyle was First Team All-MAC the last two seasons, and has played both left and right tackle. While still needing some developing as an offensive lineman, Doyle has all the athletic trait boxes marked, especially for a player of his size. He was not a Senior Bowl invitee this year but did get one from the East-West Shrine game. I really would much rather have Northern Iowa’s Spencer Brown here if he were still on the board. Like Brown, Doyle has size and athleticism.
6th Round (216th Overall) — OLB Shaka Toney — Penn State – An undersized edge-rusher out of Penn State that would fit perfectly with the Steelers as an outside linebacker in their scheme. He checks a ton of boxes when it comes to him maybe being a Steelers draft pick, and that includes him being a team captain at Penn State, having a nice SPARQ score, and being invited to the Senior Bowl. The fifth or sixth round seems like a perfect time for Toney to go off the board, and the Steelers certainly could use more depth at the outside linebacker position.
7th Round (245th Overall) — CB Kary Vincent Jr. — LSU – Vincent, who has NFL and pro football bloodlines, opted out for the 2020 season. The LSU product still got invited to the 2021 Senior Bowl. He is a slot cornerback at the NFL level and had some nice production at LSU. Being battle-tested in the SEC could make him attractive to the Steelers. He needs to become a better tackler at the NFL level and show some sort of special teams value, as well.
7th Round (254th Overall) — P Max Duffy — Kentucky – As much as I have talked about the Steelers’ probability of drafting a punter this year, I had to find a way to fit one in my first mock of 2021. Duffy has quite the backstory, was invited to the Senior Bowl, and had special teams coordinator Danny Smith at his Pro Day. That’s enough for me to think the Steelers might draft him late this year.
Bryan: 2021 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 1.0 – Post-Pro Days At A Galnce
|Harris, Najee||Sr||RB||Alabama||SB||6013||232||33 3/8||10 1/4||81||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||N/A||N/A|
|Freiermuth, Pat||Jr||TE||Penn State||6050||251||32 1/2||9 7/8||77 3/4||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||N/A||N/A|
|Browning, Baron||Sr||ILB||Ohio State||SB||6026||245||33 1/2||10||79||4.56||1.56||23||40||10’10”||4.22||6.78||144.4||9.98|
|Meinerz, Quinn||Sr||C||Wisconsin-Whitewater||SB||6027||320||33 3/8||10 1/4||82||4.99||1.73||DNP||32||09’03”||4.58||7.54||N/A||9.98|
|Doyle, Tommy||rSr||OT||Miami (OH)||EWSG||6080||320||35 1/8||10 3/8||83 7/8||5.12||1.76||24||33 1/2||09’03”||4.57||7.42||118.0||9.90|
|Toney, Shaka||rSr||EDGE||Penn State||SB||6024||242||33||9 1/2||82 1/8||4.53||1.58||24||39||10’08”||4.29||7.00||137.7||9.49|
|Vincent Jr., Kary||Sr||CB||LSU||5096||185||30 1/4||8 7/8||74 1/8||4.39||1.59||8||35 1/2||09’09”||DNP||DNP||N/A||4.10|
|Duffy, Max||Sr||P||Kentucky||SB||6006||196||29 5/8||8 7/8||71 1/8||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||DNP||N/A||N/A|