The Steelers have had incredible sustained success for the past decades and in 2021 they are once again all in with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger returning for another year. Starting the 2020 season 11-0, everything came crashing down due to crucial injuries and a sloppy first half in a playoff game against Cleveland. Pittsburgh has an old roster with little cap space to make moves in free agency in the future. For the time being, they will look for immediate impact players early in the draft and worry about the future when they get there. Offensive line help would go a long way in sustaining success. A running back to revitalize the Steelers’ rushing attack is another area of need. A stacked defense could use young and cheap assets in the back seven.
Round 1, Pick 25: Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
Harris is the complete package at the position. A strong inside runner, he displays excellent power and vision. At 230 pounds, he is surprisingly nimble, allowing him to make opponents miss in space. What puts him over the top as a prospect is Harris’ receiving ability. He has been compared to former Steeler Le’Veon Bell who had a similar skill set in his prime.
Round 2, Pick 55: Creed Humphrey, C, Oklahoma
A leader and signal-caller for the Sooners, Humphrey has been one of the best players in college football over the past three seasons. He does a tremendous job using leverage and angles to his advantage and would fit very well in the Steelers’ offense. While his potential may be limited, he is a Day-1 starter who will help Pittsburgh immediately.
Round 3, Pick 88: D’Wayne Eskridge, WR, Western Michigan
The Steelers have had their fair share of success drafting wideouts from the MAC and Eskridge is as dynamic as they come. An easy separator, he can have a similar impact to Diontae Johnson but has even better hands. Eskridge is too good a value pick to pass up here.
Round 4, Pick 129: Marlon Tuipulotu, DT, USC
A three-year starter, Tuipulotu is a disruptive force on the interior with his power and athleticism. Playing with tremendous effort, he is always around the ball. At the moment, he is a bull in a china shop and has to improve his hand technique to become a starting-caliber player.
Round 4, Pick 141: JaCoby Stevens, S/LB, LSU
The versatile defender is a tremendous athlete who can play safety or linebacker. Stevens was a leader on great LSU teams and will offer valuable depth as well as special-teams ability early before taking over as a starter in his second season. The Steelers will be unable to re-sign some pieces of their defense and Stevens can be molded into multiple roles.
Round 6, Pick 216: Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
The converted wide receiver is a gifted athlete who checks all the boxes from a measurables perspective. Offering depth and special-teams ability early, Rochell would be a cornerback that head coach Mike Tomlin and his staff can mold into a potential contributor.
Round 7, Pick 246: Shemar Jean-Charles, CB, Appalachian State
The undersized defensive back would fit well into the nickel role in the Steelers defense. They have had playmakers such as Mike Hilton, an unrestricted free agent, in the past and Jean-Charles could be next in line. Like others in this class, he can contribute on special teams right out of the gate.
Round 7, Pick 255: John Bates, TE, Boise State
A Senior-Bowl standout, Bates provides a dynamic skill set. He can be flexed out wide and make plays against linebackers or defensive backs as he runs crisp routes. Reliable hands allow him to catch a majority of his passes. Bates projects as a depth tight end for Pittsburgh who could have an impact as a receiver.
In this scenario, the Steelers come away with immediate contributors with their first three picks that will help them make a final Super Bowl run in 2021. In the later rounds, depth is addressed with talented players that have their best football in front of them and could turn into starters once the current generation of Steelers is gone.
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