More than in any draft in some years, the Pittsburgh Steelers put a priority on the offensive side of the ball in 2021, using each of their first four draft selections to address weaknesses there. After adding running back Najee Harris and tight end Pat Freiermuth in the first round and second rounds, respectively, they added two offensive linemen in the third and fourth in Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr.
The veterans have gotten a couple of weeks to work with the young players now during OTAs, and Mason Rudolph offered his thoughts on some of his newest teammates while speaking to reporters after practice today.
“I think the offensive guys we’ve drafted, the linemen have been great. Kendrick’s been a pleasure to work with”, he said of potentially the Steelers’ new starting center. “He’s a hard worker. He’s always asking questions, wanting to get extra snaps after practice and build that chemistry”.
Green played mostly guard in college, but the Steelers have an opening at center following the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey. He will have to win the job, with his competition being B.J. Finney and J.C Hassenauer. As for Freiermuth, he will work in tandem with Eric Ebron, while Harris, well, doesn’t figure to have any competition. But Rudolph has been impressed by both.
“You’ve got Pat, who’s been great. Catches the ball really well, a lot of patience, a very great route runner, pure route runner”, he said of the team’s newest tight end. “Obviously, Najee’s work ethic has been well-documented how many hours he’s put in”.
We’ve already run numerous stories about Harris and his dedication, not just to the game and to learning this new offense, but also to giving back and being a part of whatever community that he’s in. Really, it’s hard to find a negative about the guy.
As far as Freiermuth goes, it will be interesting to see how much he and Ebron work together in the passing game. There has been talk of using two-tight end sets, and maybe new offensive coordinator Matt Canada will actually deliver on that, but we’ve heard it all before.
Rudolph did not mention Moore, the team’s first of two fourth-round picks, who is set to compete for an opportunity at tackle, though he has the lowest chance of being a meaningful contributor this year. Harris and Freiermuth are basically guaranteed to play, while Green has a clear path to a starting job.
But will Rudolph himself even play this year? The hope is that the only time he does see is at the end of blowout victories and perhaps at the end of the season after the number one seed has already been secured, because playing otherwise would likely mean that the team isn’t doing well or Ben Roethlisberger is injured.