The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with a lot of holes right now, both present and in the immediate future. The fact that so many of those holes are on the offensive side of the ball is giving me flashbacks to the early 2000s and 2010s.
And for Daniel Jeremiah, all three of the Steelers’ biggest needs as the 2021 NFL Draft nears are on offense. “Offensive line, running back, and then quarterback. To me, the first two needs are about right now,” he said earlier this week during a segment on NFL Network. “You brought Ben Roethlisberger back because you’re trying to chase a trophy, so those first two needs help you do that. The third one is an eventual replacement at the most important position.”
Since last season, the Steelers have lost or could potentially lose three starting linemen. Center Maurkice Pouncey retired, left guard Matt Feiler left in free agency, and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva remains unsigned. Jeremiah noted the number of holes to fill there, but focused more on running back and the relation between the two.
“Again, it’s about right now, and to me, at the running back position, they haven’t been physical, they haven’t been able to run the football, and part of that’s on the offensive line,” he said. “The other thing is they just haven’t been very explosive in the backfield.”
“So we can go second [round], maybe you could get him in the third round, but Michael Carter here from the Tarheels, they have two running backs there, Javonte Williams, Michael Carter,” he noted, of the other back who played with the popular Williams. “I think they’re kind of in between the opportunity to get Javonte, but I think Michael Carter plugged right in would be an upgrade and give them some juice. They desperately need it”.
James Conner, the Steelers’ lead runner for the past three years, remains unsigned, like Villanueva. Benny Snell did not take a step forward last season as they would have liked. Rookie Anthony McFarland was not a significant contributor. There is almost universal agreement on their need for a featured back.
And then, of course, there is the quarterback position, and he had a name in mind there, as well. “They have Dwayne Haskins, they have Mason Rudolph there. But to me, finding that next guy is still on the to-do list. So if you’re looking for a quarterback with starting potential, I think there’s an interesting one at Stanford in Davis Mills,” Jeremiah said.
“Did not start a lot of football games there. He’s had some injuries going back to high school,” he continued. “But we saw at the Pro Day just what that guy’s capable of. He can really spin the football, and he was a highly-rated kid coming out of high school. I think he’s got starter traits. Second, third round? You might hit on that one.”
I’m personally not on board with drafting a quarterback this year. Especially not for someone with 18 collegiate touchdown passes. I don’t think this is the year to draft a quarterback unless you’re at the top of the draft. But they certainly need one in the future. And a running back, and a couple of offensive linemen — both for right now, and for their next quarterback.