It’s now April and that means it is finally draft month. Todd McShay of ESPN started off April with yet another mock draft and it includes him projecting the first 64 overall selections of the 2021 NFL Draft. In that newest mock, McShay has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting two Alabama products.
In the first round at 24 overall, McShay has the Steelers selecting Alabama running back Najee Harris and below is his reasoning for doing so.
Teven Jenkins is tempting here. He’s a mauler on the offensive line, and the Steelers must rebuild that unit from the ground up. Ultimately, I went in a different direction because the lineman class is deep — I have more than a dozen in this mock — and running back is just as much of a concern. Harris is a powerful back who is nearly impossible to stop between the tackles. The Steelers’ 3.6 yards per carry ranked dead last in the NFL last season, and it doesn’t appear that James Conner is returning, currently leaving the rushing to an unproven group of Benny Snell Jr., Anthony McFarland Jr., Kalen Ballage and Jaylen Samuels. Let’s get an impact running back.
McShay’s selection of Harris for the Steelers is not surprising at all. The Steelers had a lot of notable presence at the two Alabama pro days and there have been many accounts this offseason that they are high on Harris. McShay has Harris as the second running back off the board behind Clemson running back Travis Etienne, who he has the New York Jets selecting at 23rd overall.
At 55 overall in the second round, McShay has the Steelers selecting Alabama center Landon Dickerson and below is his reasoning for doing so.
Dickerson would be the Steelers’ post-Maurkice Pouncey plan, after the longtime Pittsburgh center retired this offseason. Dickerson has some durability issues — for one, he tore his ACL in December — but he has strong awareness in pass protection and can drive back defenders on run plays, opening lanes for the Steelers’ projected first-round pick, Najee Harris.
Dickerson should be another prospect that Steelers fans are familiar with as like Harris, he has been mocked to the Steelers quite a bit so far this offseason. While unable to do much at all at the Alabama pro days recently because of him still recovering from knee surgery, Dickerson appears to be on track to be fully recovered for around the start of the 2021 regular season. The biggest red flag overall with Dickerson ahead of the draft is his medical history.
In totality, McShay’s two selections for the Steelers in his most recent mock draft make a lot of sense and especially with the Steelers expected to focus on improving their running game this offseason in addition to finding a longtime replacement for veteran center Maurkice Pouncey, who retired earlier in the offseason.
The fact that both of McShay’s picks for the Steelers are Alabama products is quite intriguing as well from a history standpoint. Butch Avinger was the last Alabama player to be drafted by the Steelers in the first round of a draft and that transpired way back in 1951. In the modern Super Bowl era, the earliest the Steelers have drafted an Alabama product was in 1998 when cornerback Deshea Townsend was selected in the fourth round.