It’s now time for me to release the final version of my Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 mock draft and If you missed by previous versions I posted, you can find them at the link included below.
As usual, I have adhered to several historical principles related to past Steelers drafts when putting my final mock together. One of those is making sure I pay close attention to players who played in or were invited to the annual college all-star games as we’ve seen the Steelers draft quite a few of those non-underclassmen players from various rounds over the years. Obviously, our annual pro day tracker was closely followed in addition to the reports of which players had Zoom meetings with the Steelers.
In addition to providing my guess for every round, I also included four other players I considered while building this last mock so you can see where my head was at while putting this final one together. As usual, my primary goal is to have several of the 40 total players listed below ultimately wind up being selected by the Steelers.
Due to me being so busy with the site this year and being sick on top of it all, I only managed to do two mock drafts this year. I will try to do more next year.
I invite everyone to post their final mocks in the comments below and hope all of you enjoyed our pre-draft coverage this year. We look forward to covering the real thing for you beginning Thursday evening.
Previous Mock Draft:
Bryan: 2021 Steelers Mock Draft: Version 1.0 – Post-Pro Days
1st Round (24th Overall) — C Landon Dickerson — Alabama – Alabama running back Najee Harris is the obvious choice at 24th overall in the first round for the Steelers, right? Why wouldn’t he be? I’m not sure the Steelers could put more fingerprints on Harris than they did during the pre-draft process. The obvious scares me when it comes to the Steelers, however, and that’s why I went away from him. That left me to choose between Clemson running back Travis Etienne and Dickerson. The biggest thing with Dickerson is his medicals and that’s obvious at this point. I think the Steelers love Dickerson and the decision of whether or not they will have him on their board will come down to what the doctors say. Either he is worth the risk or he isn’t. If he is deemed worth the risk, I think the Steelers will make him their pick at 24 if he’s still on the board. If he is deemed not worth the risk, he might fall like a rock. Dickerson, when healthy, is a beast and one could argue he would be one of the top three offensive linemen in this year’s draft class.
The Steelers certainly could use a beast in the middle of their offensive line following the offseason retirement of longtime center Maurkice Pouncey. The Steelers must come out of this draft with one of the top three or four centers and Dickerson ranks right up there on that list at that position when healthy. I obviously have no inside information on Dickerson when it comes to his medicals so me mocking him to the Steelers at 24th overall is a mere coinflip with the odds against me. It seems like Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt had a few questions about a knee ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft as he had issues at Wisconsin as well. Watt, however, made it through his final college season healthy whereas Dickerson did not.
My selection of Dickerson absolutely should get a ton of pushback because of his injury history and I accept that. My viewpoint is that if he’s deemed healthy enough to be on their board at all that he should be the pick at 24.
Others Considered: RB Najee Harris, RB Travis Etienne, CB Asante Samuel Jr., EDGE Azeez Ojulari
2nd Round (55th Overall) — RB Trey Sermon — Ohio State – The fact that I didn’t mock a running back to the Steelers in the first round resulted in me absolutely needing to address the position in the second round. That left me to pick the best of the rest of that position that could be on the board still and that’s likely to be Sermon. Behind the right offensive line and scheme at the NFL level, Sermon should be able to function as an every-down running back. He also doesn’t come with the same amount of mileage that a few of the other top running backs in this year’s draft class come with. While Sermon exits college with just 48 receptions for 486 yards and three touchdowns, he is capable of being a competent receiving threat out of the backfield at the NFL level if used properly. He had a nice explosive run rate in college and I think the Steelers like him. He said during his post pro day media session that he has had meetings with the Steelers during the pre-draft process and that he felt those really went well. He added he feels like the Steelers like his game because they told him as much during the meetings.
Sermon came out of his pro day with a solid RAS score of 9.66 and that’s yet another reason to think the Steelers might be interested in drafting him if they don’t get a running back in the first round. It’s a bit of a reach, but the Steelers supposedly really like Sermon.
Others Considered: TE Pat Freiermuth CB Eric Stokes, C/G Quinn Meinerz, T Liam Eichenberg
3rd Round (87th Overall) — ILB Baron Browning — Ohio State – It’s the third round and with two offensive players now on the board, I better go defense here, right? Is Browning the best least talked about off-the ball-linebacker in the 2021 draft class? Perhaps. He did kind of get lost in the shuffle at Ohio State because of the litany of talented linebackers that the Buckeyes had there these last four seasons. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin sure did pay a lot of attention to Browning at the Ohio State pro day this year so I’m not sure how much to read into that. Browning has a lot of college playing time experience overall as he amassed 111 total tackles, seven sacks, two passes defensed and two forced fumbles in the 43 total games he played in. Browning was a Senior Bowl participant this year and that is another big checkbox when it comes to the Steelers.
At his pro day, Browning posted a SPORQ score of 144.4 and a RAS score of 9.98 and you get bet the Steelers will pay attention to that. Browning can stay on the field all three downs and should be a special teams demon right out of the chute. He must be on the Steelers draft radar and especially if the team wants to add an off-the-ball linebacker at some point in the first four rounds. The Steelers like players they are familiar with and I bet they are really familiar with Browning at this point as they go to the Ohio State pro day every year.
Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert sure did talk quite a bit on Monday about the inside linebacker position as it relates to this year’s draft and the qualities the team looks for when it comes to that particular position. That long quote he gave has me thinking we could see an inside linebacker drafted sooner rather than later this coming weekend. Browning is a carryover from my last mock draft.
Others Considered: CB Shaun Wade, WR Dyami Brown, T Spencer Brown, EDGE Payton Turner
4th Round (128th — TE Tommy Tremble — Notre Dame – The Steelers certainly need to come out of this year’s draft with a tight end and one that can help in the blocking department as well. Tremble, in my opinion, is one of the better all-around tight ends in this year’s draft class and when it comes to blocking specifically, he might just be the best. He’s not George Kittle in that department, but he just might be the best blocking tight end we’ve seen in a draft since then. If the Steelers want to improve their running game, they need better blocking from the tight end position and especially when they have two of them on the field at the same time.
As for Tremble and the contribution he can make in the passing game at the NFL level, there’s definitely something to work with in that phase of his game. At Notre Dame, just like Kittle at Iowa, he just wasn’t targeted very much. Tremble being a bit undersized at 6033 and with him having 31 7/8-inch arms should be enough to let him hang around until the fourth round. At least that’s my projection for his draft stock. Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert were both at the Notre Dame pro day this year so there’s a chance they got to know Tremble a little bit better during that visit.
Others Considered: TE Hunter Long, EDGE Elerson Smith, EDGE Janarius Robinson, T Adrian Ealy
4th Round (140th — T Tommy Doyle — Miami (OH) – Yes, once again 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. If I mocked Brown here, however, I’m sure I would get way too much pushback when it comes to people doubting he’ll still be on the board come time for this selection.
Like Brown, Doyle has size and athleticism. This seems to be a fairly deep tackle class this year and thus someone is likely to fall into the fourth round, which would be a perfect time for the Steelers to pounce on a potential future starter and one that can play on both sides as a rookie if needed. Got to get a MAC player in this mock draft as well, right? Doyle is a carryover from my last mock draft. Just keep in mind that I really wanted Brown here.
Others Considered: EDGE Patrick Jones II, T Carson Green, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Robert Rochell
6th Round (216th Overall) — OLB Daelin Hayes — Notre Dame – Hayes is one of those classic tweener types the Steelers look for and especially late in drafts. While not the most athletic specimen on tape, he did post a RAS score of 7.92 at his pro day and both Tomlin and Colbert were on hand to see him do it. Make no mistake about it, Hayes is developmental outside linebacker prospect but probably with a low ceiling when it comes to overall upside. He was a team captain at Notre Dame and a Senior Bowl participant to boot. Hayes’ character is off the charts great and that is yet another thing that the Steelers will be attracted to. This year’s edge class has a little bit of depth to it and thus I think there’s a good chance he could still be on the board come the time the Steelers make this pick. For a late round outside linebacker prospect the Steelers could do much worse than Hayes.
Others Considered: CB Kary Vincent Jr., EDGE Shaka Toney, CB Ambry Thomas, EDGE Hamilcar Rashed Jr.
7th Round (245th Overall) — CB DJ Daniel — Georgia – Daniel is a day-three cornerback prospect who spent the last two seasons at Georgia. He played well enough to earn himself a Senior Bowl invite earlier this year. Daniel was also named the top cornerback on the Senior Bowl’s American team in a vote from the wide receiver group at practice at the annual player-of-the-week awards ceremony. On top of that, Colbert, Tomlin and new defensive backs coach Grady Brown were all present at the Georgia pro day this year. Daniel reportedly even had Day 2 grades from many NFL teams off his junior tape. He excels in man-coverage and is definitely a candidate to be a sub package player at the NFL level. Injuries hurt him during his 2020 season. Daniel really hasn’t had much buzz about him throughout the pre-draft process and that might make him slip into the late rounds. He might even be a candidate to be drafted in the sixth round. He is a very under-the-radar cornerback draft prospect right now. He’s sure to be drafted.
2021 NFL Draft Player Profiles: Georgia CB DJ Daniel
CB Avery Williams, S Damar Hamlin, CB Camryn Bynum, S Mark Webb
7th Round (254th Overall) — P Drue Chrisman — Ohio State – 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 final mock draft just like I did in my last one. With me thinking that Kentucky punter Max Duffy might be off the board here, I went with my second selection, Chrisman.
P Max Duffy, P James Smith, P Pressley Harvin, LB Grant Stuard