This past weekend’s NFL Draft gave each NFL team the opportunity to put themselves in a better position for the upcoming 2021 season by selecting players that best fit their system entering the new year. Many teams flourished with this opportunity, selecting not only just the best player available on the board, but by selecting players at positions of need for that particular team. That can lead us to assume that teams that went down this avenue are the ones that have a roster that is built to win now, rather than a roster that will need some time to develop before they reach their full potential. After this weekend’s events, we can add the Pittsburgh Steelers to that list.
I say this, not only because of the roster the Steelers have already put together, but also because of the players added to this team through the draft process itself. The Steelers went against their own norm by choosing to select an offensive player with their first four selections. Over the past couple of years, we have seen the Steelers prioritize the defense when selecting their top round picks focusing on the secondary and the pass rush over everything else. Obviously, the 2020 season shed some light on the struggles of this offense as a whole and it was clear that the organization made balancing out this offense a priority going into 2021.
Going against the norm seemed to be the theme of the draft for the Steelers organization. I say this due to the Steelers themselves drafting RB Najee Harris out of the University of Alabama with their first round pick despite the narrative adopted around the NFL that the running back position isn’t as vital as once was. In some scenarios, an argument can be made to support that theory, but in Pittsburgh we saw just how valuable having that trusted 3-down rusher can be for a team that has seen themselves become more one-dimensional as of late.
The Steelers could have decided to go another route during this weekend’s draft. As we know, last season’s starting cornerback Steven Nelson was released from the team about a month prior to the draft officially starting. There were rumblings of the team’s interest in possibly selecting a cornerback with their first overall selection in efforts to maintain with the same level of productivity in 2020. There were some talented prospects in the secondary still left on the board when the Steelers were on the clock, and to be completely honest, the thought of adding another first round defensive back did cross my mind. Obviously they went a different route — the smarter one.
The same thing could be said for the offensive line. Although this group was addressed in the 3rd and 4th rounds with the selections of center Kendrick Green and offensive tackle Dan Moore , the Steelers could have addressed this need earlier than those middle rounds. Names tied to the organization throughout the draft process like Tevin Jenkins and Landon Dickerson were still on the board when the Steelers selected at 24, and the organization could have easily selected what they thought would be a “cornerstone” of this offensive line for years to come.
Instead, the Steelers went against the grain and drafted the forbidden running back in the first round. The team put their focus on building the new and improved running game through a once in a decade type of talent and will begin to create a rushing attack based off of Harris’s strong suits. This move will allow this offense to become more of a balanced attack and takes some pressure off of an aging Ben Roethlisberger.
Let us know if you agree with the Steelers choice of choosing a running back in the first round! Comment below!