Sitting less than a week away from the 2021 NFL Draft, the seemingly endless cycle of speculation and debate is about to come for an end – for the time being, anyway.
After addressing some holes in free agency, the Pittsburgh Steelers are in a decent position heading into the draft April 29-May 1 in Cleveland. Knowing that some holes have been plugged following some surprise returns by Tyson Alualu and Vince Williams, among others, there’s some clear-cut needs for the Steelers in the draft.
With all that said, I took a shot on my final version of a mock draft for the Steelers ahead of the ever-popular draft.
There will be some surprise picks, ones that many readers likely won’t agree with. Take a look at the mock below and leave your thoughts.
Round One (24th Overall): Landon Dickerson, iOL, 6’6”, 326 Lbs
Analysis: I have gone back and forth for the last two weeks between Dickerson and fellow Alabama star Najee Harris when it comes to this selection at No. 21 overall in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Ultimately, knowing that Maurkice Pouncey’s athleticism and attitude hasn’t been replaced, I ultimately leaned towards Dickerson. Yes, the Alabama standout has a lengthy injury history, and yes, I stated on the Depot draft pod that I was concerned about draft him at 24.
But, removing those injuries – which are part of the game – Dickerson is a top 15 player in the class. That’s hard to pass up.
He reminds me so much of Tampa Bay’s Ryan Jensen from an athletic standpoint, as well as his tendency to play through the whistle, anger opponents and bury them in the dirt.
Sign me up for that every day of the week and twice on Sundays.
Dickerson would step in right away and return that nastiness to the trenches, pairing with Kevin Dotson and David DeCastro as road graders inside. That’s one way to fix the run game.
Previous mock selections: Jackson Carman, OL, Clemson (Version 2.0); Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama; Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State;
Round Two (55th Overall): Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina, 5’10”, 220 Lbs
Analysis: I truly despise the conversation of “oh, he won’t be there.” That’s exactly what will happen here with Williams, but I’ve said from the get-go that I strongly believe he’ll be on the board at 55 overall.
That’s where his value is, and I think the 55th slot is perfect for him.
After grabbing a mean, miserable interior offensive lineman in Dickerson at 24, the selection of Williams adds another layer to a rebuilt run game.
Williams is one of the best backs in the class, breaks a number of tackles and runs extremely hard. He’ll be a perfect fit in Pittsburgh and will become a fan favorite quickly.
He has relatively light wear and tear, forces misses at a high rate, is a willing pass blocker and runs angry. He can run out of single back from under center or out of the gun, and could see more of a workload as a pass catcher at the next level.
Previous mock selections: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina (Version 2.0); Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Jabril Cox, LB, LSU; Payton Turner, EDGE, Houston; Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
Round Three (87th Overall): Tommy Tremble, TE, Notre Dame, 6’4”, 248 Lbs
Analysis: With the need for a tight end at an all-time high in Pittsburgh, Notre Dame’s Tremble can put that to bed for a few years.
While he doesn’t have much production coming out of Notre Dame, Tremble has a lot of traits to love and is a terrific blocking tight end, which profiles him perfectly as a No. 2 tight end right away in the NFL, especially with the Steelers.
I believe Tremble will be that classic guy who blows up in the NFL and has people wondering what they missed with him, considering his usage at Notre Dame was almost strictly as a blocker.
Part of fixing the run game is replacing Vance McDonald, who was a strong blocker at the position. Tremble would be an upgrade in that role.
Previous mock selections: Tylan Wallace, WR, Oklahoma State (Version 2.0); Kenneth Gainwell, RB, Memphis (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Pete Werner, LB, Ohio State; Chazz Surratt, LB, North Carolina; Elijah Molden, CB, Washington
Round Four (128th Overall): Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas, 6’2”, 195 Lbs
Analysis: The Steelers get into the small-school game here with Rochell, a guy that they made sure to have scouts at his Pro Day, which says a lot.
Add in the fact that Rochell is one of four corners that check all the boxes that the Steelers look for in drafted corners, and well, the interest and fit makes sense.
Rochell is more athlete than anything right now, but that athleticism and testing numbers are insane for the position. He can play outside or inside, and has the long speed to run with anyone in the game.
He’ll need to sit and develop, but with the job the Steelers have done in recent years identifying corners like Cam Sutton, James Pierre and Steven Nelson, I feel much more comfortable taking a flier on a guy with huge upside like Rochell.
Previous mock selections: Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan (Version 2.0); Hunter Long, TE, Boston College (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Patrick Jones II, EDGE, Pittsburgh; Ambry Thomas, CB, Michigan; Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC
Round Four (140th Overall, Comp Pick): Hamilcar Rashed Jr., EDGE, Oregon State, 6’4”, 245 Lbs
Analysis: Though Rashed Jr. saw a significant drop in production from 2019 to 2020, a lot of that can be tied to him adding 20 pounds to try and impress scouts.
That’s simply not Rashed Jr.’s game though. He relies on being smaller and quicker, which helped him dance around tackles in 2019, recording 15 sacks for the Beavers.
Rashed Jr. has great agility, and has good versatility to play off-ball and drop into coverage, allowing defensive coordinators to move him around and scheme up matchups.
Though I am a bit concerned about his ability to play the run right away, I love what he brings as a pass rusher, profiling him as a strong No. 4 in 2021 in Pittsburgh behind TJ Watt, Alex Highsmith and Cassius Marsh.
Previous mock selections: Kenny Yeboah, TE, Ole Miss (Version 2.0); Brady Christensen, OT, BYU (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Marvin Wilson, iDL, Florida State; Cameron Sample, EDGE, Tulane; Monty Rice, LB, Georgia
Round Six (226th Overall): Avery Williams, ATH, Boise State, 5’9”, 197 Lbs
Analysis: Though he’s listed as a cornerback in the 2021 NFL Draft class, I have Boise State’s Williams listed as athlete in my mock, because if the Steelers are to grab him, he’ll play all over.
Williams was a special teams ace in college, blocking punts, returning kicks and punts for scores, and making impact plays left and right on special teams for the Broncos.
Adding a guy like that could really give the Steelers a boost in that phase of the game.
Considering he did some running back and receiver drills at his Pro Day as well, he could be a new-age utility player near the bottom of the roster, filling a number of holes.
Previous mock selection: Jimmy Morrissey, iOL, Pittsburgh (Version 2.0); Chase Lucas, CB, Arizona State (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Damar Hamlin, S, Pittsburgh; Josh Ball, OT, Marshall; Grant Wallow, iLB, Texas Christian
Round Seven (245th Overall): Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State, 6’3”, 207 Lbs
Analysis: If you heard me on the Steelers Depot draft podcast, you know I love Florida State’s Terry, who reminds me quite a bit of Martavius Bryant on the field.
Though Terry does have some question marks off the field that need answered, there’s no denying his talent in pads. He’s a good depth threat that will take the top off of defenses consistently and make plays down the field, and can turn short catches into splash plays in a hurry with his speed and agility after the catch.
The only real hang-up I have with his game is the lack of a route tree coming out of school. There’s a lot of go balls, slants, and screens, and not much else. He’ll have to develop, but he profiles as a strong Z receiver with the ability to play some X as well.
Previous mock selection: Jamar Watson, EDGE, Kentucky (Version 2.0); Tony Fields II, iLB, West Virginia (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Grant Stuard, LB Houston; Buddy Johnson, iLB, Texas A&M; Brady White, QB, Memphis
Round Seven (254th Overall): Drue Chrisman, P, Ohio State, 6’3”, 220 Lbs
Analysis: For the first time in my six years with Depot, this is the first time I’ve included a punter in a mock draft. We’ve made history!
Chrisman has a strong leg and really seems to do well with hang time, which will make Special Teams Coordinator Danny Smith happy.
Jordan Berry has been far too inconsistent over the last few years. It’s time the Steelers address the position with a draft pick.
Coming out of Ohio State, the Steelers will have all the background they need on Chrisman.
Previous mock selections: Aashari Crosswell, S, Arizona State (Version 2.0); Josh Imatorbhebhe, WR, Illinois (Version 1.0)
Others considered: Tuf Borland, LB, Ohio State; Royce Newman, OT, Ole Miss; Paddy Fisher, LB, Northwestern