The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the 2021 NFL Draft listed 11th in ESPN’s power rankings. They sure must have messed up their draft, however, as they exited it ranked 15th overall for a drop of four spots.
Why did the Steelers drop four spots in ESPN’s rankings? It certainly appears as though the main reason is because they did not spend an earlier-round selection on a tackle, based on what Brooke Pryor wrote in her synopsis of the team’s ranking after first naming tackles Zach Banner and Chukwuma Okorafor as the team’s players who benefited most from this year’s draft.
“The Steelers didn’t draft a Day 1 starting tackle, and that’s good news for both Okorafor and Banner,” Pryor wrote. “With Alejandro Villanueva departing in free agency, Okorafor is “penciled in” at starting left tackle, according to what Mike Tomlin said in April. Banner, coming off ACL surgery, is projected to start at right tackle — the position he won in a training camp battle a year ago. Both have more job security, with the Steelers opting to wait until the fourth round to take an offensive tackle.”
I’m sure ESPN might have a few other reasons for dropping the Steelers four spots in their power rankings since prior to the draft taking place. If indeed that’s the case, I sure would love to hear them. Sure, they didn’t spend a first, second or third round selection on a tackle this year, but at least they did draft one in the fourth round, one that can play on both sides should the need arise. That tackle, Dan Moore Jr. out of Texas A&M, might not be ready to step in right away as a starter, but there is hope that he can be the team’s answer on one side beginning in 2022.
Nearly everyone knew that the Steelers had to come out of this year’s draft with a running back, tight end, center, and tackle when it came to offensive positions that needed to be filled. Well, the Steelers addressed all four positions with their first four selections of the draft. Sure, they didn’t draft the tackle first, but as Pryor points out, at least they have two tackles remaining that have game experience that the team can lean on to start the season. Because of the offseason retirement of veteran center Maurkice Pouncey, it was imperative that his replacement be found sooner rather than later in this year’s draft. That’s exactly what transpired in the third round with the selection of Kendrick Green.
Overall, I have no issues with the Steelers now being ranked 15th overall in ESPN’s power rankings as the offseason graduates from the draft to OTA sessions. No, the biggest issue I have is that the Steelers dropped four spots to 15th overall and by the looks of things it was only because they failed to draft a tackle higher than the fourth round. By the way, the Steelers drop of four spots in ESPN’s power rankings was the biggest drop by one team in this specific update. Go figure.