The Pittsburgh Steelers 2020 season didn’t end how we wanted it to. So, the question is, how can this team improve? This team is in win-now mode and has some holes to fill in order to get back to a championship caliber team! The 2021 NFL Draft is less than two weeks away, with so many rumors and reported interest in a lot of players, who can the Steelers add to the roster to get this team back on track?
Round 1: Pick 29
Traded back from 24 with the Green Bay Packers
Steelers receive: Pick 29, (Rd. 5) 173, (Rd. 5) 178, and 2022 3rd Round pick
Packers receive: Pick 24
The Pittsburgh Steelers select RB Najee Harris (6’2”, 230 lbs.) from Alabama.
I decided to trade back and get our starting running back for some years to come. At 6’2”, 230 pounds, Harris is a bruiser that is capable of being the focal point in a team’s rushing attack. He is dynamic as a runner as well as a receiver out of the backfield. The Steelers passed on re-signing RB James Conner this offseason and the running back eventually signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The argument against taking a running back in the first round is always a good one, but with the trade back, the Steelers get their game changer at running back as well as additional draft capital this year and next year!
Round 2: Pick 55
The Pittsburgh Steelers select CB Elijah Molden (5″10”, 191 lbs.) from Washington.
The Steelers lost slot CB Mike Hilton in free agency this offseason. After some conversation transpired, the Steelers cut ties with CB2 Steven Nelson as well. The Steelers will need a cornerback at some point in this draft. The team has some young depth pieces at the cornerback position, but no one proven to take over as the starting slot corner. The idea here is that Sutton takes over as CB2 and Molden slots right in as the defense’s starting slot cornerback.
Round 3: Pick 87
The Pittsburgh Steelers select OT Spencer Brown (6’8.5”, 314 lbs.) from Northern Iowa.
The Steelers need to add to the offensive line and it’s as simple as that. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva remains unsigned and the team looks to be moving on as of right now. The Steelers did re-sign OT Zach Banner earlier this offseason after an impressive camp before last season in which he eventually won the starting right tackle position before suffering a season ending injury. It sure seems to me that the Steelers are going to give Banner first crack at the starting left tackle position. I know it seems risky, but hear me out, this is my thinking along with how I think the organization views these players. Brown is a violent blocker that plays through the whistle every snap. The Steelers need to add some nastiness to the offensive line room and Brown is the pick that can do that! He has the size and length to play left tackle and could be experimented with as a left tackle as well.
Round 4: Pick 128
The Pittsburgh Steelers select S Talanoa Hufanga (6’1”, 215 lbs.) from USC.
The need at safety is pretty far on the list with depth at the position as a current need. However, looking into the future, Hufanga can eventually take over for Terrell Edmunds. Edmunds has developed well and is playing some great football right now. The better he plays, the more he will need to receive proper compensation once his rookie deal expires. The Steelers may look for his replacement as early as this draft if the value is just right. Hufanga is extremely versatile and can contribute at several different spots on the defense early on.
Round 4: Pick 140
The Pittsburgh Steelers select IOL Trey Hill (6’3”, 330 lbs.) from Georgia.
C Maurkice Pouncey decided to hang up his cleats earlier this offseason, so the Steelers have a need at center. As much as I would love to address this need earlier in the draft, the value of this pick is extraordinary. I am much higher on Hill than a lot of people, but I view him as an eventual starting center. With the team signing C BJ Finney, the Steelers have a little flexibility addressing the position in the draft. Finney can be a stop gap center, until the team believes Hill is ready. Hill is raw, but can be a dynamic run blocker. He also has the power to handle bull rushes well.
Round 5: Pick 173 via GB trade
The Pittsburgh Steelers select TE Tre’ McKitty (6’4”, 247 lbs.) from Georgia.
Tight end instantly became a bigger need since TE Vance McDonald retired earlier this offseason. McKitty lined up all over the place for Georgia this past season, and is very willing as a run blocker. He is very athletic and plays like a big wide receiver in the passing game. He’s a developmental TE that has the skillset to eventually become a starting TE in the NFL.
Round 5: Pick 178 via GB trade
The Pittsburgh Steelers select EDGE Chauncey Golston (6’4.5”, 268 lbs.) from Iowa.
The Steelers will need some EDGE depth behind Alex Highsmith and TJ Watt. Bud Dupree got paid in free agency to a very deserving deal. Watt will get a contract extension in the near future and the Steelers just didn’t have enough money to pay both Dupree and Watt their market value. Golston definitely has some talent to work with. He is aggressive and plays with a high motor.
Round 6: Pick 216
The Pittsburgh Steelers select WR Cornell Powell (6’0”, 205 lbs.) from Clemson.
Did you really think I was going to go this entire draft without selecting a receiver? The Steelers have a highly talented wide receiver room, and that is especially correct with the team being able to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster during free agency. Powell is a developmental receiver that was buried on the depth chart for Clemson. With more of an opportunity in 2020, Powell produced really well for the Tigers, catching 53 passes for 882 yards and was tied for the team-high receiving TDs with 7. He has great hands and can produce early on as a return man. Powell has a lot of upside and if any team can develop a receiver, it’s the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Round 7: Pick 245
The Pittsburgh Steelers select IDL Mustafa Johnson (6’2”, 290 lbs.) from Colorado.
NT Tyson Alualu eventually re-signed with the Steelers after some thought. However, the Steelers still need to add a developmental piece on the defensive line because Alualu isn’t getting any younger and unfortunately cannot play forever!
Round 7: Pick 254
The Pittsburgh Steelers select LB Tuf Borland (6’0”, 229 lbs.) from Ohio State.
The Steelers were able to re-sign Robert Spillane and also brought back Vince Williams. The need at inside linebacker moved down the list with three capable linebackers with experience at the position. However, the team still needs to add depth at inside linebacker. Borland is a run stuffer, that could eventually take over for Williams as the teams run stopping linebacker. He should be an excellent special teams contributor early on.