The 2021 NFL Draft is now under two weeks away, and discussion only continues to heat up as teams make their final preparations for what is still the most significant roster-building event of the calendar year. Each draft represents a great influx of talent, often producing multiple, sometimes several, players who would go on to establish themselves as being among the best to ever play the game.
It’s not always easy to define what makes a special player who will transcend his position and the game in such a way that designates him for immortality within the sport. But at least you can work to identify players who stand out as uniquely talented. NFL Network analyst Bucky Brooks took at shot at that recently, identifying the top five ‘unicorns’ in this draft class.
“If you are not familiar with the term, it refers to prospects with rare physical tools that will enable them to dazzle as pros in roles that accentuate their unique talents as hybrid playmakers,” he writes in a prelude to his five-player list.
Florida tight end Kyle Pitts is the first name on that list, a player who should have no chance of falling anywhere close to where the Pittsburgh Steelers might be able to get him. “You just don’t find guys with NBA power forward size and wide receiver playmaking ability,” Brooks writes. “As the NFL continues to evolve, with offensive hybrids featured prominently in gameplans to exploit favorable matchups, Pitts becomes the chess piece that every play-caller covets.”
Next on the list is the only quarterback, Trey Lance out of North Dakota, arguing that “more scouts are embracing the thought of an athletic QB1 running the show” in the wake of Lamar Jackson. “Lance, who’s still just 20 years old, could be the next quarterback to post a 1,000-yard season on the ground as a dual-threat playmaker with the size, strength and wiggle to terrorize opponents on a variety of designed quarterback runs and option plays in the backfield.”
A pair of linebackers follow third and fourth on the list in Penn State’s Micah Parsons and Notre Dame’s Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah. He sites Parson’s “freaky combination of athleticism, instincts and playmaking ability that enables him to wreak havoc on opponents as a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine,” while Owusu-Koramoah is labeled “a defender with Swiss Army Knife capabilities on the second level.”
Last on the list is perhaps the most likely Steelers target of the five, Alabama’s Najee Harris, who would fill the very large hole at running back the team currently has, Brooks writing that he could “follow in Le’Veon Bell’s footsteps,” not as a rapper or a no-show, but “as a backfield standout with the capacity to thrive as an RB1/WR2 in a creative offense.”
Will the Steelers land any of these unicorns and add them to their roster? Pitts and Parsons probably don’t have a prayer in terms of being within Pittsburgh’s striking distance, but the last two names on the list could be distinct possibilities.