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Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Predictions for 2021
The Steelers offense needs help, and they need it quickly. Pittsburgh ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game. The passing attack sputtered down the stretch – mainly due to Ben Roethlisberger’s inability to deliver the ball accurately and on time.
The defense also faded as the year wore on, plus Bud Dupree bolted in favor of a big payday in Tennessee.
With five of his eight picks coming on day three, it’ll be imperative for Kevin Colbert to hit on his early selections if Pittsburgh plans on contending in 2021.
On that note, let’s comb through Steelers draft predictions for each of their seven picks.
Round 1 – Pick #24
- Selection: Najee Harris
- Position: RB
- School: Alabama
I mentioned that Pitt clocked in 32nd in the NFL in rushing yards per game. Here’s some more perspective alluding to just how wretched the Steelers ground game was in 2020.
- 32nd in Yards/Carry
- 30th in First Downs/Attempt
- 28th in Rushing Touchdowns
James Conner remains unsigned, and neither Benny Snell Jr. nor Anthony McFarland Jr. is ready to handle a full load.
Kalen Ballage was signed on March 30th (one-year/$750K) but could easily be cut during training camp. On the flip side, Najee Harris is the epitome of a bell cow.
At 6’2” and 230 pounds, Harris is built like a freight train that can handle a three-down role from the moment he arrives on the scene.
After single-handily rewriting the SEC record books, it is unlikely the first day of the draft goes by with hearing Najee’s name getting called.
Round 2 – Pick #55
- Selection: Dillon Radunz
- Position: Offensive Tackle
- School: North Dakota State
Drafting an offensive lineman in 2021 was always in the cards – the Steelers front line couldn’t give Big Ben the necessary time to go through his progressions. Not retaining Alejandro Villanueva is the “smoking gun” that Pittsburgh will be drafting a tackle early in the 2021 Draft.
If they utilize their 55th pick on upgrading the O-Line, Dillon Radunz should be there for the taking.
Dillon’s wide base and sincere upper-body strength make him a candidate to slide inside to guard if needed but evolving into a starting tackle will be the plan from the outset.
Talk about a kid with a winning mentality, Radunz hasn’t lost a game that he has played in since his junior year in high school back in 2015. You can thank NFL Network’s James Palmer for that fun little tidbit.
Round 3 – Pick #88
- Selection: Kellen Mond
- Position: Quarterback
- School: Texas A&M
It’s hard to imagine Ben Roethlisberger’s career extends beyond 2021. The Steelers gambled on Dwayne Haskins in free agency and still have Mason Rudolph on their roster, but let’s be real.
Do you think this franchise feels good about handing the keys of the organization to either of those men in 2022?
Kellen Mond has all the necessary physical tools to excel at the next level, a year behind Ben gives him time to learn the Steelers playbook inside and out.
Mond’s experience in shotgun formations would carry over – the Steelers ran 77% of their players without a hand under the center.
What’s promising about Kellen’s trajectory is that he improved his completion % year after year during his time in College Station.
QB Kellen Mond is a name gaining steam. The former Texas A&M star ran a sparkling 4.56 and showcases big time arm talent – capable of making even the toughest NFL throws. Executives I’ve spoken with have come away impressed by Mond’s arsenal of tools and robust athleticism.April 3, 2021
Perhaps the biggest question at this point is if Mond will be available when the Steelers are picking at #88.
Projecting the Steelers Day 3 Draft Picks
- Round 4, Pick #129 – Dylan Moses, LB, Alabama
- Round 4, Pick #141 – Tre’ McKitty, TE, Georgia
- Round 6, Pick #217 – David Moore, G, Grambling State
- Round 7, Pick #247 – Jimmy Morrissey, C, Pittsburgh
- Round 7, Pick #256 – Tyler Vaughns, WR, USC
Vince Williams was released, and Bud Dupree is now a member of the Titans. Devin Bush is coming back from a torn ACL, but the Steelers like to run a 3-4 defense that requires two big-time inside linebackers.
Plucking Dylan Moses off the board in the fourth-round addresses that need, as well as gives Pitt a second rookie from Tuscaloosa engrained with a winning pedigree. Moses can fly around the middle level and ensure that T.J. Watt has space to operate.
Eric Ebron becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2021 season, inserting a tight end into a Steelers mock draft felt somewhat obligatory. Celebrated as a block-first tight end, Tre’ McKitty dazzled during the Senior Bowl demonstrating he’s also got skills as a vertical threat.
The next two slots in my Steelers draft predictions are a couple of interior offensive linemen who can be groomed into eventual starters.
Jimmy Morrissey was a walk-on at Pitt and turned into a three-time All-ACC Selection and the winner of the 2020 Burlsworth Trophy (best player in college football who began his career as a walk-on). He might not have to move far to get his NFL career underway.
Why spend back-to-back picks on interior offensive lineman when current starting guard David DeCastro was a Pro Bowler this past year?
Well, DeCastro earned was honored as Pro Bowler based on reputation – he was PFF’s 28th– ranked guard in 2020 and becomes a 32-year-old free agent after the season.
Last but not least, an additional wideout for insurance.
Overshadowed by the likes of Michael Pittman and Amon-Ra St. Brown, Tyler Vaughns was a consistent producer for the Trojans offense. Vaughns has strong hands and a good understanding of the route tree, plus has experience returning kicks and punts.
Final Thoughts on This Steelers Mock Draft
First and foremost, the Steelers front office must address the shortcomings on the offensive line and in the running back room.
Nabbing Najee Harris and committing to Dillon Radunz are examples of how Kevin Colbert can go about shoring up those deficiencies.
After that, it is all about locating the best players available and trying to uncover Big Ben’s Successor.
Ready to dive into some more NFL Draft predictions? Start by peeking at what Pittsburgh’s AFC North rival is plotting.