The Steelers have a critical 2021 NFL Draft coming off a return to the AFC playoffs. They recovered the North with a 12-4 record, but ended up losing their wild card game to the Browns and the runner-up Ravens also advanced to the divisional round.
Ben Roethlisbeger and the offense overcame some limitations. Defense was the basis for much of the success and he fought well through injuries.
Pittsburgh needs to be more balanced offensively and reinforce at all levels on defense. Equipped with eight picks from April 29 to May 1, the Steelers should spread the wealth to both sides of the ball. Here’s what they could do from Round 1 to Round 7:
MOST DRAFT OF THE NFL: Complete 7-round simulation | Big Top 100 board
Steelers 2021 draft mock
No. 24 overall, first round
- Najee Harris, RB, Alabama (6-2, 230 pounds)
The Steelers should think about improving their running game early on, either with a strong right tackle or with a potential real trait to replace James Conner. Harris makes perfect sense because he’s a powerful puncher between tackles, but he’s also talented and elusive in the passing game. He can be a three-on-one workhorse to clean up a shaky committee.
No. 55 overall, second round
- Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State (5-10, 184 pounds)
The cornerback will be an area necessity after the team cut starter Steven Nelson and also lost cover man Mike Hilton to rival Bengals in free agency. The Steelers should like Samuel’s pedigree and versatility to play anywhere fast and fast.
No. 87 overall, third round
- Cameron McGrone, LB, Michigan (6-1, 232 pounds)
The Steelers are eager to have their ex-Wolverine Devin Bush active again for their defense and need to give him better support to make plays at the second level, so it makes sense to take advantage of the same professional friendly scheme.
No. 128 overall, fourth round
- Talanoa Hufanga, S, USC (6-0, 199 pounds)
Hufanga should have appeal to the Steelers after training with a notable former Trojan, Troy Polamalu. He is an explosive playmaker in the same vein with mass production on the field against runs and passes.
No. 140 overall, fourth round (compensatory)
- Tedarrell Slaton, DT, Florida (6-4, 330 pounds)
The Steelers can find some robust athleticism for their 3-4 nose tackle position with Slaton.
No. 216 overall, sixth round (by Buccaneers)
- Simi Fehoko, WR, Stanford (6-4, 222 pounds)
The Steelers are loaded as receivers now with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Chase Claypool, Diontae Johnson and James Washington, but they need to develop a big goal for the future as a contingency. Fehoko uses his size well as a large physical target and can view the job as a swappable backup at first.
No. 245 overall, seventh round (Dolphins)
- Tristen Hoge, G, BYU (6-5, 310 pounds)
The last name suggests he is related to former Steelers running back Merril Hoge and Tristen is in fact his nephew. He’s a good developmental guard for the Steelers with natural power and great seasoned effort.
No. 255 overall, seventh round
- Shane Buechele, QB, SMU (6-0, 210 pounds)
Buechele, the son of former MLB third baseman Steve, may be worth a last-round midfielder for a no-quarterback draft in another way with the return of Big Ben. Buechele is not physically special, but he stands out for his intelligence and toughness, which gives him the opportunity to become a solid endorsement.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.