While it is far too early to talk about picks that could have been in the 2021 NFL Draft overall, it’s still fun to see what a redraft of the first round would look like just one year later.
Thanks to Bleacher Report’s Maurice Moton, we have just that at our disposal now as Moton took on the task and cranked out quite an interesting first round. Unfortunately for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the redraft exercise just one year later sees the franchise lose a key offensive piece.
According to Moton’s redraft piece, the Steelers won’t be able to draft tight end Pat Freiermuth in the second round due to the former Penn State standout landing with the Indianapolis Colts at No. 21 overall in the redraft, replacing the original draft pick of Michigan edge rusher Kwity Paye.
“Within a deep pass-catching group that included Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster, James Washington and Najee Harris, Freiermuth caught 60 passes for 497 yards and seven touchdowns,” Moton writes. “Freiermuth had more touchdown receptions than any Colts pass-catcher and would’ve ranked second on the team in receptions and receiving yards in 2021.”
Reading that final sentence from Moton regarding Freiermuth’s production is rather stunning, considering just how productive the rookie tight end was not only in Pittsburgh, but how he would have compared elsewhere.
With Freiermuth off the board, the Steelers were at least fortunate to land running back Najee Harris at No. 24 overall once again in the redraft process, giving the franchise a foundational piece on offense to build around.
“In all likelihood, the Steelers wouldn’t have gotten comparable rushing or pass-catching production from Benny Snell Jr., Kalen Ballage or Anthony McFarland Jr. as workhorse running backs. Harris accounted for about 30 percent of Pittsburgh’s offensive yardage,” Moton writes. “With quarterback Ben Roethlisberger retiring, the Steelers may field a more respectable passing attack if they land a veteran signal-caller. Perhaps they target Jimmy Garoppolo via trade or sign Marcus Mariota.
“Regardless of the Steelers’ plan at quarterback, they need balance, so why not hold on to the top running back in the class? Harris, who’s a tough ball-carrier between the tackles and a smooth pass-catcher, has star potential. If the Steelers improve along the offensive line, he could compete for a rushing title.”
With Harris in the fold once again in the redraft exercise but Freiermuth off the board ahead of the Steelers’ 55th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, it would be interesting to see what direction they’d go in the second round. It’s worth mentioning that everyone’s favorite center in Oklahoma’s Creed Humphrey comes off the board at No. 27 overall to the Baltimore Ravens in Moton’s exercise, so he wouldn’t be an option.
What direction would you as the reader go in the first round at No. 24 in a redraft exercise of the 2021 NFL Draft? Let us know in the comments section below!