NFL Draft

Kozora: 2021 Steelers’ Mock Draft (Post Pro Days)

With the Pro Day circuit wrapping up and all the marquee ones done for this draft season, I wanted to update my Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2021 mock draft. This one definitely went in a different direction than the previous two. But hopefully you guys like the path I’ve chosen here.

As always, let me know your thoughts below and what you would do differently.

The next one will be my final prediction for the 2021 draft.

Round One (#24 Overall): Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah/LB Notre Dame – 6’1/4 221

Analysis: A little surprising, I know, seeing a defensive player at #24. But if JOK slips a bit, and the rise of someone like Kentucky LB Jamin Davis could cause it, the Steelers might be able to ignore their offensive needs. If the Steelers are going to keep living in a world of matching up linebackers on wide receivers, you better have top-tier athletes who can give you the best matchup possible.

JOK, of course, isn’t just a linebacker. He’s capable of lining up all over the defense. Linebacker, slot, some sort of sub-package safety. Positionless football has its clear benefits though Mike Tomlin and company will still need to come up with a defined gameplan for him and how he’ll fit in the scheme. But he can be an answer to a lot of solutions, something even more important now that Cam Sutton’s role figures to be more static than it was last season. Previously, he was the “answers” guy as the 6th DB.

Owusu-Koramoah is a top-level athlete (36.5 inch vert, 10’4″ broad, 6.8 three cone) from a Power 5 school with good production. 24.5 TFL, seven sacks, and five forced fumbles the last two years. Based off his Pro Day interview, he has a great personality and good character. The conversation with him was entertaining and he even broke into Portuguese when a couple of Brazilian reporters asked him questions. Though he’s a senior, he’s still just 21 years old, making for an interesting blend of experience and youth, though he essentially only played two seasons for Notre Dame.

Again, this is on the low-end of where he’s projected to be taken. But it’s not a pipe dream either. This Rotoworld mock has him slotted 28th, this one from CBS 29th overall, and this Yahoo! prediction 27th. In a year where there’s plenty of talent at QB (five going in the top 10), offensive tackle, receiver, and even a high-end tight end, it pushes other guys down the board.

Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were also at his Pro Day, a crucial box checked when it comes to their first round picks. After the workout, Tomlin said he hoped to get another Fighting Irish in this draft just as he did with Stephon Tuitt and Chase Claypool. He gets his wish.

Others Considered: RB Najee Harris, RB Travis Etienne, C Landon Dickerson, CB Asante Samuel Jr.

Round Two (#55 Overall): Josh Myers/C Ohio State – 6’5/2 310

Here’s an interesting comparison.

Josh Myers: 6’5/2, 310 pounds, 32 inch arms, 10 3/8 inch hands, 29 reps bench
Maurkice Pouncey: 6’4/4, 304 pounds, 32 1/2 inch arms, 10 inch hands, 27 reps bench

Now, I’m not saying they are 1:1 prospects. They aren’t. Pouncey was a better athlete, Myers is more of a road grader. But from a size profile, they are very similar. Drafting Myers addresses arguably the biggest need on the roster, center, and affirms Art Rooney II’s mandate of improving the run game. He’s a powerful run blocker and still growing. Just a two-year starter who declared for the draft after his junior season. Potential plug ‘n play center with the size to play guard at any point in his career if he needs to. Pittsburgh doesn’t do well with undersized guards.

Maybe this feels a little early. But draft boards will be all over the map. And if he’s your guy, you get your guy.

Myers comes from an elite school and an athletic family. His mom is in the Dayton Hall of Fame for basketball. His brother played for Kentucky and his father, Brad, played for the Wildcats in the 80s. One utterly random piece of information is I believe Steelers’ defensive line coach Karl Dunbar played against Brad Myers while Dunbar was at LSU in 1986 and 1987. Wonder if that’s a nugget of a draft story that would ever come up. But the Steelers love football bloodlines and Myers fits who they’re looking for.

Others Considered: CB Aaron Robinson, ILB Baron Browning, QB Kellen Mond

Round Three (#87 Overall): Trey Sermon/RB Ohio State – 6’0/3 215

Analysis: Later than maybe most of us expect this team to take a running back. Here’s the thing. If you don’t get one at #24, it’s hard to find a name who fits at #55. North Carolina’s Javonte Williams is logical and he could be there at that pick but I don’t think those odds are very high. Three RBs are probably going in the top 50. So it’s smart to wait another round on the position. Addressing center with a higher grade makes more sense anyway.

Sermon reminds me of James Conner. Good size, production, not used a ton in the pass game, but Sermon tested much better than Conner did. Sermon could bring a blend of size and explosiveness to a Steelers’ run game looking for a lead back. He also doesn’t have a lot of tread on his tires. Only once did he have more than 150 carries in a single season. The questions surround him is overall production and some durability worries. But he’s the best of the bunch.

Others Considered: C Quinn Meinerz, OT Spencer Brown, RB Kenneth Gainwell

Round Four (#128 Overall): Victor Dimukeje/EDGE Duke – 6’1/4 262

Analysis: Flipping back to defense to address one of the most underrated areas of need for this team. Outside linebacker. Really nothing behind TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith. Unfortunately, this EDGE class is weak and it’s hard to find many ideal options in any round. Dimukeje has been a consistent pass rusher across four seasons at Duke, recording 7.5 sacks in 2020 to give him 21.5 for his career. He’s on the stocky side which is generally how the Steelers draft them, weighing in at 6’1/4, 262 pounds. He has good length (33 1/8 inch arms) with a 34.5 inch vert and 7.09 three cone. He likely begins the year as the #3 outside linebacker, for better or worse.

Others Considered: Janarius Robinson, LB Derrick Barnes, DB Ar’Darius Washington

Round Four (#140 Overall): Shakur Brown/CB Michigan State – 5’9/6 185

Analysis: Brown doesn’t have a ton of starting experience but he came on strong in 2020. Last year, he picked off five passes and broke up four more. A playmaker, he knows what to do with the football in his hands. His seven career INTs averaged over 26 yards per return and even if you take away his 69 yard pick six his freshman year, that number still sits at 19 yards.

He’s undersized and didn’t test well at his Pro Day, running in the low 4.6’s but Mike Hilton nor Cam Sutton were amazing athletes and they’ve succeeded in the slot. That’s where Brown should fit in at the NFL level. I prefer having Sutton on the outside more often anyway.

Others Considered: EDGE Elerson Smith, EDGE Daelin Hayes, OC Kendrick Green, OC Robert Hainsey

Round Six (#216 Overall): Jaylon Moore/OT Western Michigan – 6’4/1 311

Analysis: Finally swooping in for an offensive tackle after the long wait from the 4th to 6th round. Moore is a strong developmental prospect worthy of baseline comparisons to Chukwuma Okorafor. Moore actually replaced Okorafor at LT in college and the two are still good friends.

Moore tested well at his Pro Day workout, highlighted by a 30 inch vertical and 27 reps on the bench press. Overall, he’s a plus athlete who shows some nasty in the run game, though he needs to get stronger to generate more of a push. He played in 2020 and I thought had a nice week down at the Senior Bowl. He could sit for his rookie season and, again, replace Okorafor in 2022. Okorafor is entering the final year of his rookie contract.

Others Considered: TE John Bates, WR Cornell Powell, OT James Hudson

Round Seven (#245 Overall): Luke Farrell/TE Ohio State – 6’5/4 251

Analysis: Waiting way late to address a tight end but the Steelers don’t have enough picks to fix all their needs on Day 1 and 2. Farrell was barely used in the pass game in college, catching only nine passes over the last two years (he did play in only ten games but still). He was primarily a blocker. But he tested well at his Pro Day workout, suggesting he could make more of an impact as a receiver at the next level. Pittsburgh is in desperate need for a #2 tight end. Farrell might have to be that guy right away.

Others Considered: TE Shaun Beyer, LB KJ Britt, P Max Duffy

Round Seven (#254 Overall): Trevon Grimes/WR Florida – 6’4 220

Analysis: It wouldn’t be a Kevin Colbert mock draft without taking a wide receiver. Grimes was a downfield, jump-ball player at Florida, averaging nearly 15 yards per catch in his career. Broke out in 2020 catching nine TDs from Kyle Trask. Steelers seem much more likely to draft players who have 2020 tape and Grimes does. Some Dallas Baker (the Touchdown Maker) vibes from years ago.

Grimes could spend the year on the practice squad and compete for the 53 a year from now, especially if James Washington exits. 2021 is the final year of his rookie contract. Those two have a similar skillset but I might like Grimes even better as a “go get it” receiver as the Z in the Steelers’ receiver.

Others Considered: QB KJ Costello, DB/RET Avery Williams, WR Jacob Harris

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