Whether it be due to free agency looming, players nearing the end of their careers or just flat out needing upgrades, the Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2021 season with plenty areas of need. Making pick 24 a very intriguing one. They shouldn’t handcuff themselves to taking any one position, but rather go with a best player available (BPA) approach. In this article, I will go through each position that the Steelers feasibly could opt to address in the first round and give you one player at that position to keep your eyes on should go they go that route.
QB: Mac Jones
Please don’t do it. The top 4 quarterbacks in the class will be well gone before the Pittsburgh Steelers selection and this article is assuming they stick at 24 and don’t trade up or down. Mac Jones is the only possible quarterback pick at 24 in my opinion. I’m not even sure Jones will make it this far, and I hope he doesn’t He was a fantastic college player and he has some decent traits. With the way the league continues to trend though, mobility at the position has never been more important and it’s not a strong suit of his.
RB: Najee Harris
Unlike the quarterback position, it’s very possible every running back is available when the Pittsburgh Steelers are on the clock. The positional value just isn’t there. I would much rather have them build up the offensive line first and address running back later, but I’m not sold that’s how the team will approach this. They met with Harris at the Senior Bowl and reportedly are amongst the most interested teams in him. I love Harris as a player and while selecting him wouldn’t be my first choice, it’s amongst the team’s largest needs and he’s a premium player at the position. I would certainly be able to talk myself into being ok with the choice, should there be a large run on tackles before the Steelers pick.
TE: Kyle Pitts
I won’t spend too much time on this one. If Kyle Pitts somehow slides to 24, take him. It would be the textbook definition of BPA approach. He’s my favorite pass catcher in the class and tight end is something I’d love the Steelers to actually invest in. I’m not sold on Eric Ebron for the immediate or long term future and the cabinet is bare behind him anyways.
C: Landon Dickerson
I flipped a coin here and went with Dickerson as opposed to Creed Humphrey but those are the top 2 centers in the class and both should be available at 24 and also for a bit after that. Both are very good players but I personally just see Day 2 as the day where both players and also Josh Myers of Ohio State come off the board.
Should they go center in Round 1, that likely means Maurkice Pouncey has called it a career (he since has). Similarly to tight end, there isn’t much behind the incumbent starter and they will certainly have to address the position. Dickerson has dealt with injuries over the last few seasons all while remaining a top prospect at the position. A testament to how rock solid this guy is at his craft. While 24 might be a bit rich for him, you risk losing out on the player and him not getting to 55 if you don’t take him there. (I wouldn’t take him at 24)
T: Samuel Cosmi
Tackle is probably the most popular position mocked to the Steelers at pick 24 and for good reason. Long time starter Alejandro Villanueva is a free agent and has seen his play drop off. Matt Feiler who played right tackle in 2019 before moving to guard is also a free agent. That leaves Zach Banner (coming off an ACL injury) and Chuks Okorafor as the incumbent tackles. There is not shortage of questions as to whether that is a capable starting duo and for that reason, the Steelers would be wise to add to the tackle room. I went with Cosmi as opposed to Teven Jenkins or Christian Darrisaw here due to scheme fit and well I simply don’t think Darrisaw gets out of pick 20. Cosmi would be a day one starter and projects to be long term fixture at the all important left tackle spot.
Not a ton of top flight talent at the position. Christian Barmore is the top one and the Steelers don’t value the position enough to spend a high pick on it. Alualu could very well be back on a short term deal.
LB: Zaven Collins
Ok, hear me out. There is a scenario where Vince Williams becomes a cap casualty and if that were the case, it certainly opens the idea of adding an linebacker early. Here’s the thing with Collins too, he can do a little bit of everything. That’s what he did for Tulsa and that’s why he is going to go early in this draft.
He can play inside or outside and has the juice to give you something as a pass rusher. The speed that he would bring alongside Devin Bush is an idea to get excited about. Everyone is going to be looking to mirror what Tampa Bay has created at the second level with White/David and this would be the Steelers attempt at doing so. Sideline to sideline speed and middle of the field coverage. That’s what this pick helps address. I can get behind it, assuming things fall this way.
CB: Jaycee Horn
Will Horn last until pick 24? Probably not. If he does, should the Pittsburgh Steelers take him? They should certainly consider it. Horn is a top 4 player at the position and continued to get better each year at South Carolina. Cornerbacks Mike Hilton and Cameron Sutton are both free agents this offseason. Joe Haden isn’t getting any younger and he and Steven Nelson are both free agents after next offseason. The long term plan at cornerback is totally up in the air. Depending on how the situations play out, cornerback could very well be in play early in the draft. If Horn falls to 24, I’m not sure that there would be a better player on the board, and it likely means there was also a run on tackles. A position of need and a top prospect still available at that position?