After saying goodbye to starters like James Conner, Alejandro Villanueva, Tyson Alualu, Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, Vince Williams and what ultimately appears to be Steven Nelson, a batch of new faces will begin in black and gold once the first whistle for the 2021 season.
The good news? The Steelers are pretty confident in some of the successors of the aforementioned players. Guys like Robert Spillane, Cam Sutton and Alex Highsmith are set to play big roles next season as all three have had strong 2020 campaigns.
With no big move on the horizon for the Steelers, the 2021 NFL Draft is all that’s left in Pittsburgh to supplement their team-wide losses. With the Steelers awarded a fourth-round pick in the upcoming draft, Pittsburgh currently has eight draft picks to their name.
The most important choice (and which we have talked about) will obviously be the direction in which they go with the 24th overall selection in the first round. With the Steelers being a wildcard in terms of draft-night decisions, a wide array of front office vacancies only thickens the fog of what Pittsburgh can do.
As a handful of positions start to gain traction, the running back still seems to be a popular choice for the Steelers with Conner’s departure. Fans keep fantasizing about Najee harris or maybe Travis Etienne toting the rock in Pittsburgh. While arguments are always made that running backs are overrated, there is no doubt that the Steelers would benefit from either of the two in their backfield.
The less sexy choice? An offensive lineman, who would most likely be a left tackle thanks to a weaker cross class. The Steelers made a few signings deep in the trenches, but no legitimate starters in either of the two positions listed above have emerged. While the likes of Penei Sewell, Christian darrisaw and Rashawn slater should be gone by choice number 24, guys like Alex Leatherwood, Sam cosmi and Dillon radunz are some of the big names to watch out for as the dominoes fall halfway through.
While Spillane performed well in the limited action we saw from him last season, many believe the Steelers are in the market to snag another athletic linebacker to pair with Devin Bush. Great playmakers like Zaven collins, Nick bolton and Jérémie Owusu-Koramoah are names that have been circulated around the Steelers in many fictional drafts.
Finally, with the news that Steven Nelson ends up exiting Pittsburgh, the high school appears to be losing two key starters between him and Steven Nelson. While the Steelers have retained Cam Sutton, his true role will be hard to pin down, assuming the Steelers don’t fully trust James Pierre / Justin Layne. Shouldn’t they be, the first lap corners like Jaycee Horn and Caleb farley can potentially slide to the Steelers, although guys like Eric Stokes and Ifetu Melifonwu can be more realistic.
With just over a month to go until the 2021 NFL Draft begins, no favorites really exist for the Steelers to catch with their first pick of the weekend. A plethora of mock drafts will come and go suggesting every player under the sun, but it looks like we’re all just throwing darts in the dark until the draft board lines up in front of our own eyes.
Still, that’s the magic of the NFL Draft, and the Steelers always seem to have a card up their sleeve. While a mystery pick isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered with fans wishing to pre-order jerseys or media just trying to line up the content, it may be what Pittsburgh likes.