Another day, another Pro Football Focus mock draft — although this particular mock draft is now a few days old. It is the first of the offseason from one of the site’s head analysts, Sam Monson, and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers taking a reasonable approach with the 24th-overall selection in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, addressing arguably their biggest need — the offensive line.
In what should by now be a familiar name to regular readers, Monson sees the defending AFC North champions grabbing tackle Teven Jenkins out of Oklahoma State. Jenkins is perhaps the most-mocked name the Steelers have seen since the start of the offseason, and not without good reason. He writes of the move:
The draft seems to be littered this year with teams needing a starting left tackle, and the Steelers are in a worse position than most to find one, picking 24th overall. With three tackles already gone at this point, they grab Teven Jenkins as the best fit at the position.
Jenkins is actually the No. 6 tackle on PFF’s Big Board, but he just feels like a typical Steelers player, regularly burying defenders in the run game — a trait the team has lacked in recent seasons.
Monson has Oregon’s Penei Sewell as the first tackle off the board, who is more or less the unanimous top-graded tackle in this class, going seventh overall to the Detroit Lions — though many expect that he won’t make it past the Cincinnati Bengals at five.
The next tackle doesn’t take long, with Northwestern’s Rashawn Slater going to the Carolina Panthers at eight. The Los Angeles Chargers take Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech with the 13th pick in the draft. But then the position goes dry in this mock until the Steelers.
Pittsburgh is in the market for a left tackle with their start for the bulk of the past six seasons, Alejandro Villanueva, still sitting out there as an unrestricted free agent. There are reports that they still remain interested in bringing him back, but it will come down to finances.
Villanueva originally signed a four-year, $24 million contract while he was an exclusive rights free agent back in 2017. He has made the Pro Bowl twice since then. Under normal offseason conditions, he would have almost surely had a fairly robust market. But of course, this offseason is anything but normal.
That may ultimately prove advantageous for the Steelers if they are able to bring him back on an affordable, team-friendly deal, which would almost definitely be a one-year contract that includes four void years in order to spread out the cap hit. But if not, they’ll be more or less stuck relying on the draft to address the hole at left tackle, short of handing the job to Chukwuma Okorafor.