With a little more than a week to go before the 2021 NFL Draft gets underway in Cleveland, OH there are quite few fans, draftniks and analysts who believe the Pittsburgh Steelers will ultimately select either a running back or center in the first-round. That said, longtime NFL insider John Clayton doesn’t believe the Steelers will address either of those two positions with their first-round selection, which is currently slated to be 24th overall.
During his weekly Wednesday segment on 93.7 The Fan, Clayton was asked to talk about what he’s hearing the Steelers might do in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft and he made it clear that he doesn’t think the team will be selecting a running back or a center.
“I still get the feeling that they’re not going to take a running back with their first pick even though a lot of people have Najee Harris going there because they can get a running back in the second or third round,” Clayton said. “I think that still could work. So, I would lean to think that there still could be an edge-rusher or there definitely could be a tackle because you know, tackle, the offensive line is now being almost totally rebuilt and there’s still going to be six or seven possible first round tackles. So, at 24, I still think they can get a tackle.”
Later during his interview Clayton was asked to comment on what he thinks would be the best return on investment for the Steelers with their first-round selection this year and once again he pointed to the tackle and edge-rusher positions.
“Well, I mean on the return on investment, I think that tackle still looks good,” Clayton said. “The edge-rushers, really, there’s not one great one this year, but that’s going to be a value because you’ve got maybe four that’ll go in the first round and you know, one that could slip to them.”
Would the Steelers go defense in the first round and maybe even an inside linebacker and especially if Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah out of Notre Dame is still on the board? Clayton doesn’t think so and especially not Owusu-Koramoah.
It wouldn’t be the Notre Dame linebacker because he’s only 216 pounds,” Clayton said of Owusu-Koramoah. “He’s going to fit more in a 4-3 and that’s why I think he could end up going to Cleveland. With Cleveland adding Jadeveon Clowney, they don’t need an edge rusher. So, I still think that’s a possibility, but in the end, I think what you’re looking at is edge rusher or tackle is going to be the best value at 24.”
Clayton was then asked about Alabama center Landon Dickerson possibly being the Steelers first round pick this year despite all the medical red flags that surround him due to the numerous knee and ankle injuries he sustained during his college career. The direct question to him on Dickerson was if he believes those medical red flags are scaring teams away.
“Yeah, I would think so, because I don’t have him going in the first round and haven’t had anybody say that he was going to go in the first round,” Clayton said of Dickerson. “I mean, Penei Sewell is the best by far as far as the offensive linemen and that’s why he’s either going to go to Atlanta at four or Cincinnati at five.”
Clayton went on to say that he could still see the Steelers or some other team drafting Dickerson but just not in the first round.
“Now, toward the top of the second round or maybe the middle of the second round,” Clayton said.
So, there you go. With roughly one week remaining before the draft gets underway, we have major media draftniks and analysts all over the place when it comes to the Steelers first round selection this year and especially when it comes to whether or not the team will select a running back Thursday night.
Basically, nobody really knows what the Steelers will ultimately do. That all said, the odds are probably rather good that the Steelers first-round pick this year will be either a running back, tackle, center, or edge-rusher and I hope that narrows it down some for most of you. We shall find out what the real pick is in eight more days.