Pittsburgh Steelers Fan Guide to the 2021 Senior Bowl

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Hosted by
Zachary Smith

I am a Beaver County native, lover of all teams that wear the black & gold with a passion for podcasting and writing.

The Draft starts in Mobile! That’s been the motto for the 2021 Senior Bowl and it’s simply a true statement. The game and week itself have grown tremendously in recent years, and it’s a great way for seniors and graduated juniors to kick off their pre-draft process. Fans from all 32 teams will be following along to get a first look at prospects who they think fill specific needs for their team. For the Pittsburgh Steelers (a team with plenty of needs), an interesting week lies ahead. Being the generous guy I am, I decided to make things easier on you guys and tell you who the names to keep an eye on are. I provided a few options at each position I think we can consider draft needs. Some early round picks, some mid round guys and then of course the later round diamond in the rough types.

The QBs

Mac Jones

From Kevin C. Cox, Getty Images

The Alabama QB is coming of a really nice year for the National Championship winning Crimson Tide, however his physical limitations raise questions whether the success will translate. He doesn’t have any elite physical tools and his style of play goes against the way the game is trending. He is however very accurate and moves above average in the pocket. I think you need to surround him with elite talent and have an elite playcaller to make it work on the next level. I’d pass considering where he will likely be drafted.

Kellen Mond

Mond had an up an down season at Texas A&M and that is why this week is so important for him. He likely won’t be going before Day 3, so whoever drafts him will be “Taking a flier” if you will. He has plus velocity, remains posed regardless of pressure and is very effective in the short to intermediate game. However, Mond struggles with processing and decision making. Often times, waiting until the pocket has collapsed to find the open man. He also played poorly against the top tier competition that is within the SEC. Consistency is what he’s lacking, but he certainly makes for an intriguing project. I’m against the Steelers taking any QB outside of the top 4 in this draft class, so I’m out…but Mond does offer the upside most of the “other guys” don’t.

The RBs

Najee Harris

The Najee Harris in black & gold swaps have been coming in hot for over a month. He is a perfect fit in any offense really, but would fit like a glove in Pittsburgh. The do it all back would provide everything the Steelers need in their backfield and have lacked since James Conner’s 2018 season. The question becomes “Can the Steelers get Najee Harris and still improve their line in the same offseason?”

The issues on the offensive line shouldn’t go understated and if you think they are just a running back away from fixing their running game….well I don’t know what to tell you. I wouldn’t be disappointed with Harris being selected at 24, but it’s not the route I would go. I mean, if they could manage to trade back a few picks, pick up an additional selection and then still get Harris, I could really get behind that.

Michael Carter

Michael Carter is much more than just a complimentary back to Javonte Williams. Sure Williams gets all the buzz, but Carter is very good in his own right. You know how we complain about the Steelers running from shotgun formation? Carter did quite a bit of that and was very successful in doing so at North Carolina. He’s also a plus receiver out of the backfield. He has very good vision in space and can do it between the tackles or outside. He’s the ideal 1B for any NFL team looking for his skillset to add to a power back already on the roster. He’s a very strong Day 2 candidate.

Demetric Felton

Felton lined up both at RB and in the slot for UCLA. He also spent some time returning kicks. Yeah, he’s a versatile guy and in Matt Canada’s system he could find a lot of success. Think of Nyheim Hines in Indianapolis or JD Mckissic in Washington. He fits a similar mold. He won’t be an every down guy, but in the right system he is absolutely an asset. We could see him rise this week due to versatility but as a potential Day 3 selection, I’m very much intrigued.

The WRs

Nico Collins

From Mike Mulholland, MLive.com

Let me just start by saying that Collins is going to 100% be a better pro than he was college player. It’s just the way it goes for Michigan wide receivers. Collins is 6’4, 215 and has the traits of a very good X-receiver in a vertical passing scheme. His success is going to fully depend on where he lands and it may not click right away, but I like him as a prospect. If he falls in Round 3 or so, I wouldn’t mind him becoming a Pittsburgh Steeler.

D’Wayne Eskridge

One of my absolute favorite prospects in the draft class. Should the Steelers lose JuJu Smith-Schuster to free agency, Eskridge manning the slot is something I would very much enjoy. He couldn’t be any more opposite of JuJu in terms of build, but he’s just as hard working as a blocker or with the ball in his hands. The converted defensive back carries that mindset with him and could be valuable on special teams right away. He very well could climb up the draft boards with his pre draft process work, but should JuJu walk…make this guy a Steeler.

Amari Rodgers

See how I’m basing this off of the assumption that the Steelers lose JuJu Smith-Schuster? Well here’s somebody who compares more to him in terms of stature. Rodgers is built like a running back with a somewhat limited route tree. Much like JuJu, he wins with play strength and physicality. He’s tough to match up against. He would be a relatively comparable replacement in terms of skillset, which I’m sure will have the Steelers monitoring his situation.

The TEs

Kylen Granson

I only put one tight end here. I’m not overly impressed with the group down in Mobile this year, but Kylen Granson offers some intrigue as an H-Back type of player in my opinion. Should the Steelers choose to cut bait with Derek Watt, Granson could make a lot of sense to fill that role along with taking some tight end duties too. Should the Steelers choose to address tight end, I hope they do it within the first few rounds. I’d be against taking another late round flier on one.

The OL

FINALLY! It’s what we’ve wanted all along!

Creed Humphrey

From Pro Football Network

Either Maurkice Pouncey is retiring or he is returning for one more year. Either way, the Steelers are going to need a new center of the future very soon. Creed Humphrey would be a great fit and carry on the tradition of great Steelers centers. He’s one of the top 3 centers in the class and likely won’t go until day 2. Pick 55 would be a perfect spot for the Steelers to address the center position and Humphrey is a prime candidate to be the selection.

Spencer Brown

Brown is kind of flying under the radar but has climbed by personal rankings. The only question is will he be limited to right tackle? Obviously playing left tackle would elevate his stock, but he’s never done that even in the FCS. I think he will be a long term starter at right tackle and a very good one at that. He’s a plus athlete with good body control and balance. His average mobility may limit him, but again I think we are looking at a really good NFL right tackle.

The Steelers need help along the offensive line so any of the above or below options can be fits for them, Brown however is a curious case because I’m not so sure we have somebody capable of manning the other tackle spot on the roster, which is why the team has to invest a high draft pick in that spot. I love Brown, but I don’t love the fit.

Dillon Radunz

Radunz is another good athlete at the tackle position, he however does play left tackle. He’s very good in both pass protection and a mauler in the run game. I like this fit a lot actually and could love it if he drops a bit allowing the Steelers to go interior line and running back before taking a tackle. He could stand to add some mass, and once put in the right NFL system, I think the sky is the limit. I think he is just starting to untap the potential within.

Alex Leatherwood

Leatherwood has often been linked to the Steelers and for good reason. He’s versatile enough to play inside or out and as an Alabama product competition isn’t a question. The questions he will have to answer are going to be about his ability to play left tackle at the next level. His footwork leaves a lot to be desired which is why he profiles best inside If he can however overcome those deficiencies with his powerful hands and other plus traits, I can get on board with him at pick 24 (he won’t last till 55). If he can’t, I don’t think I can get on board with them going guard at pick 24 with David Decastro and Kevin Dotson likely to man those spots next season.

Deonte Brown

Brown is a massive human who lined up at left guard for the Crimson Tide. I just mentioned I don’t like taking a guard at pick 24, but Brown shouldn’t cost the team a first round selection and they still need a long term plan for when DeCastro moves on. Brown can definitely be that long term plan. He doesn’t offer any type of versatility and is limited to his specific skillset. There doesn’t seem to be much if any room to grow. He’s a mauler though and would be a welcomed fit for a team looking to re-establish a running element to it’s game. I’d be on board with Brown as long as it’s not on Day 1.

Trey Smith

I can’t seem to get a feel for how evaluators feel about Trey Smith. He seems to be a guy with a lot of variance throughout the community. I’ve seen him anywhere from a second-round selection to a fifth. I’m a fan of his personally and think he’s a plug and play guard. Once again, that doesn’t appear to be a pressing need and I’d like to see them address center and tackle first but the idea of Smith and Dotson long term is a pretty nice thought. I wouldn’t be upset about it, but with where I personally think Smith gets drafted…I’ll pass.

The DL

Marvin Wilson

Once considered a first-round pick, Wilson will be looking to show he is still that same player leading up to the draft. The Steelers may be looking for a new man up the middle should Alualu walk in free agency. The Steelers however, never seem to have much interest in investing much into that nose tackle role. When you have as many needs as the Steelers do, that probably won’t change this year. Wilson is an intriguing prospect (for me), but I’m not so sure the team will look at him that same way.

Jarron Jackson

Jackson is an edge defender and one of those late round fliers I’ve been talking about so much. I like the upside here, but he’s raw. He’s built like a brick house and you are really relying on the natural traits here, but he’s worth a late day 3 pick where he is slated to go. Keep an eye on what he does this week against some very good tackles.

The LBs

Tuf Borland

From Jack Westerheide, The Lantern

The Steelers could throw a curve ball in this draft and address linebacker early, but I don’t see that being the case. For that reason, I’m looking for a Day 3 prospect that has special teams workhorse written all over him. Think Tyler Matakevich, because that’s the role I envision for Tuf Borland should he become a Steeler…or any linebacker they take. I don’t foresee a scenario where they invest high end draft capital into the position, but it’s not out of the realm of possibility.

The DBs

Ifeatu Melifonwu

The Steelers have been 4 deep at cornerback each of the last 2 seasons, but that’s about to change. With age, free agency and cap restrictions, the cornerback room is set to take a hit this offseason. The Steelers are going to have to add a cornerback at some point and the only question is how early or late they will do so. Melifonwu is a long, athletic, rangy corner who perfectly fits the profile for the Steelers. He also, won’t require a first-round selection barring an insane rise. Some think he will be “postionless” at the next level but move around all over. Sound familiar? He could be used in that Cam Sutton role, should he depart in free agency. If he can solidify his technique, he has the tools to become a starting cornerback in this league. I like the fit.

Hamsah Nasirildeen

Again, this is another defensive back who profiles to be a positionless subpackage defender at the next level. He’s an athletic freak with great instincts and a downhill trigger. He doesn’t have great ball skills or profile as a very good single high safety. He however, does offer the ability to play in literally any scheme. What you get out of him will just depend on how creative you are with how you use him.

Aaron Robinson

Some of the best click and close ability in the draft class. Robinson is likely a day 2 pick and profiles best in the slot. A position of need with the expected departure of Hilton/Sutton. He’s a quick processor and very physical. He has room to grow in the run game where tackling has been inconsistent, but he’s got a nice foundation to his game and the smarts to be able to improve upon his shortcomings.

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Episode 68