The Pittsburgh Steelers enter the 2021 NFL Draft with arguably the worst situation. Multiple key positions and players are up for new contracts on a team with no salary cap room. Even the quarterback position is uncertain past the 2021 season. While all signs pointing towards a rebuild, the Steelers are attempting to push one last time for a championship. Although it may be foolish to think that a dismantled Steelers could dare compete with the likes of the Kansas City Chiefs or even the Buffalo Bills, Mike Tomlin seems content on remaining relevant in the Super Bowl conversation. Is it the right move? Time will tell. Is it going to affect how this draft goes? Absolutely. Let’s see how this unfolds.
To help with this mock draft, I used The Draft Network’s mock draft simulator.
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Round 1, Pick 24: Liam Eichenberg, OT, Notre Dame
Ben Roethlisberger and his running backs need help up front. This has never really been an issue for the Steelers during Roethlisberger’s tenure. With holes at left tackle and center, thanks to Alejandro Villanueva leaving in free agency and Maurkice Pouncey retiring, the offensive line has become the Steelers’ primary need. Eichenberg is a seasoned veteran. He is talented in both the pass and the run game, which will definitely benefit the Steelers, who had arguably the worst rushing attack in the league last year. Although running back is a huge need, no back can run without a line.
Round 2, Pick 55: Javonte Williams, RB, North Carolina
How convenient, the Steelers found the steal of the draft. Williams is projected early second round (ranked 34th on the predictive board). Getting him at 55 is beyond amazing value. With the likes of Josh Myers on the board, it was hard to steer away from completing the crumbling line; however, Williams was an excellent back at UNC with lots of treads left on his tires. This pick will not only serve as a great pick in the short run, but it will also provide value long-term thanks to the lack of use Williams had at UNC.
For more on Williams, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 3, Pick 87: Keith Taylor Jr., CB, Washington
It is no secret that Joe Haden is getting old. Slot/Nickel cornerback is definitely a need with Cameron Sutton and Mike Hilton in free agency. The problem lies in the fact that few slot corners in this class can start day one, apart from Elijah Molden, who was not there. Slot/nickel cornerback may need to be dealt with in free agency. Taylor is an absolute stud in both man, zone, and press. His size and athleticism are perfect for the next level. When combined with his skill set, Taylor has no weaknesses.
For more on Taylor, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 4, Pick 128: Jaylen Twyman, IDL, Pittsburgh
With Stephon Tuitt potentially leaving, there is a gaping hole in the interior defensive line as well. The Steelers’ biggest question of the offseason is who should they bring back. This may be an area that turns out to be another pick, given Tuitt’s excellent play. For now, Twyman is an extremely high upside player that is well known by the community. Given his upside, there was zero doubt that this pick was the right move at its respective spot. In five years, this may be one of the best moves in the draft. Look for Twyman’s name to be called day two of the draft.
Round 4, Pick 141: Drake Jackson, IOL, Kentucky
Pouncey is gone. The Steelers need a captain of the offensive line, and the center position lacked any sort of value in the third round. Jackson is an excellent fit for a Steelers team that is looking to improve the run game. Kentucky has always been an excellent run team, and Jackson has been the commander of that line for years. The Steelers definitely find their gems in the middle of the draft, and they do it once again here.
Round 6, Pick 217: Jaelon Darden, WR, North Texas
Any Steelers fan will complain about Dionte Johnson’s drop issues last year, and the same goes for every other wide receiver too. Although Johnson may have a few years left on his contract, Tomlin will have no remorse benching him if he continues to drop open passes. Tomlin now has someone to potentially replace Johnson. Darden is an elite after the catch threat. Simply put, he moves differently. Darden will provide value in both the screen game and down the field on streaks and posts. With Chase Claypool already pushing safeties back, Darden may very well be lethal in the 2021 Steelers offense.
For more on Darden, check out our scouting report on him here.
Round 7, Pick 240: Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
This is simply a depth pick. With Justin Layne not panning out, there may be a huge need for corner depth. Under the condition that a starter goes down, the Steelers are bereft of true talent to come in and hold the line. Rochell lacks solid speed, making him a perfect fit for a zone scheme like the Steelers defense. His coverage skills are worth a fourth-round pick, but his athleticism has let him fall right into Tomlin’s lap.
Round 7, Pick 249: Tamorrion Terry, WR, Florida State
The Steelers dropped out of the quarterback race once again here. With no one solid enough to compete with Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins, the Steelers look to replace another lost asset: JuJu Smith-Schuster. Terry is an athletic freak. He sits above 6’2’’ and is hinted to run in the 4.3s. Given his potential, the Steelers have no choice but to take a shot here. If Terry could reach his potential, he may be able to pair with Claypool and Darden to create one of the most lethal wide receiver corps in the NFL. In short, Roethlisberger needs another target to stretch the field and throw it up to, and Terry just might be the guy to fill that role.