The Steelers have a critical 2021 NFL Draft coming off a return to the AFC playoffs. They took back the North with a 12-4 record, but they ended losing their wild-card game to the Browns badly and the runner-up Ravens also advanced to the divisional round.
Ben Roethlisbeger and the offense fought through some limitations. The defense was the foundation for much of the success and battled well through injuries.
Pittsburgh needs to get more balanced offensively and reinforce on every level defensively. Equipped with eight picks from April 29-May 1, the Steelers should spread the wealth to both sides of the ball. Here’s projecting what they might do from Round 1 through Round 7:
Steelers mock draft 2021
No. 24 overall, first round
The Steelers need to think about boosting their running game early, either with a strong right tackle or with a potential true feature back to replace James Conner. Harris makes a lot of sense because he’s a powerful pounder between the tackles but is also gifted and elusive in the passing game. He can be a three-down workhorse for them to clean up a shaky committee.
No. 55 overall, second round
Cornerback will be an area need after the team cut outside starter Steven Nelson and also lost slot cover man Mike Hilton to the rival Bengals in free agency. The Steelers should like Samuel’s pedigree and versatility to play either spot with the necessary speed and quickness.
No. 87 overall, third round
The Steelers are looking forward to having fellow former Wolverine Devin Bush active for their defense again and need to give him some better support making plays on the second level, so it makes sense to tap into the same pro-friendly scheme.
No. 128 overall, fourth round
Hufanga should have appeal to the Steelers after training with a notable fellow former Trojan, Troy Polamalu. He is an explosive playmaker in the same vein with massive upfield production against run and pass.
No. 140 overall, fourth round (compensatory)
The Steelers can find some sturdy athleticism for their 3-4 nose tackle spot with Slaton.
No. 216 overall, sixth round (from Buccaneers)
The Steelers are loaded at wideout now with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington, but need to develop a big target for the future as a contingency. Fehoko uses his size well as a big, physical target and can see work as an interchangeable backup at first.
No. 245 overall, seventh round (from Dolphins)
The last name suggests he’s related to former Steelers running back Merril Hoge and Tristen is indeed his nephew. He’s a good developmental guard for the Steelers with natural power and high, experienced effort.
No. 255 overall, seventh round
Buechele, the son of former MLB third-baseman Steve, may be worth a late-round flier for an.otherwise QB-less draft with Big Ben returning. Buechele isn’t special physically, but he stands out with his smarts and toughness, which give him a chance to grow all-around into a solid backup.
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