Steelers Go OT Instead Of Selecting RB Najee Harris In 2021 Draft ‘Redo’

In the real world, you never get a second chance to make a first-round pick. Once the card is turned in, it’s final, and the chips fall where they may. Sometimes you hit a home run. Sometimes you strike out and your bat goes flying into the third row. That’s the NFL Draft.

But on paper, you can always go back and try, try again. That’s what’s Adam Rank has done with his 2021 NFL Draft redo, picking the first round all over again with the benefit of two seasons as his guide.

For the Pittsburgh Steelers, he didn’t select RB Najee Harris 24th overall as the Steelers did at the time. Instead, Rank gives them OT Penei Sewell, writing:

“I didn’t care for the Steelers’ choice to go with Harris originally. (I mean, I did take him on my fantasy team, so that was fine.) Sewell’s drop here might seem like a big dip, and you might have taken him over Landon Dickerson — but I’m doing what I’m doing. And the bottom line is, he addresses a spot that has been a need for quite some time in Pittsburgh.”

In the real world, the Steelers had no chance of grabbing Sewell on draft night. A top tackle in the draft, he “fell” by mock draft standards but still went 7th overall to the Detroit Lions. Big and uber-athletic (as shown in the above photo, that’s him catching a pass last year), he’s started all 32 games over the past two seasons for the Lions and made his first Pro Bowl in 2022. He would be a top-end tackle and definite upgrade over what the Steelers have now in Dan Moore Jr. and Chukwuma Okorafor. Frankly, it’s a surprise to see Sewell fall all the way to #24 in this mock.

Harris has been a fine choice, certainly not a bust, but he’s been inefficient as the Steelers have tried to build around him offensively. He’s no longer the team’s workhorse back, losing his third-down role last season to UDFA Jaylen Warren. It’s the reason why many speak out against taking a running back in the first round even from an opportunity cost standpoint, but at least the Steelers got a talented player who looks like the same player he was in college. The 2021 draft had far worst-looking choices like the New York Jets taking QB Zach Wilson 2nd, the Arizona Cardinals grabbing LB Zaven Collins at 16, the Las Vegas Raiders selecting OT Alex Leatherwood at 17, and the New Orleans Saints reaching for DE Payton Turner at the end of the first round.

Only one running back went in this redo mock, the Jacksonville Jaguars sticking with Travis Etienne 25th, despite the Clemson product missing his entire rookie year with an injury.

However, there was a current Steeler selected. TE Pat Freiermuth went 27th overall to the Baltimore Ravens to pair with Mark Andrews. Pittsburgh’s 2021 class was offense-heavy — its top four picks were on that side of the ball — and Freiermuth has been a great security blanket whose route tree was expanded in his sophomore season.

Overall, the 2021 class has been a good one. At the top sit first-round picks like QB Trevor Lawrence, again going #1 overall to Jacksonville, followed by QB Justin Fields #2 to the Jets, and LB Micah Parsons #3 to San Francisco. You can check out the entire new first round by clicking the link.

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