The Steelers apparently still have some offensive needs to address next year. Here’s why a recent 2021 mock draft has them going offensive line and running back.
With the 49th pick in the 2020 NFL Draft, there were some in media circles (including ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr.) who believed the Steelers might take Oklahoma quarterback, Jalen Hurts, with their first selection in the second round. In fact, when Pittsburgh was on the clock, they showed Hurts sitting in his living room as if that could be the pick.
However, if you were really following the draft process closely, you could tell that the Steelers never had any intention of going that direction in April. But could next year’s draft be different?
Ben Roethlisberger will be 39 years old during the 2021 sesaon and will be entering his final season under contract. Though there have been whispers of another potential extension, it’s entirely possible that Ben elects to call it quits at that point.
Because of this, many have predicted that 2021 would finally be the year the Steelers took Roethlisberger’s replacement – perhaps North Dakota State quarterback Trey Lance or Georgia transfer quarterback Jamie Newman. However, that wasn’t the case in Draft Wire’s most recent mock draft.
Luke Esterling had four quarterbacks already off the board by the time the Steelers selected at 22nd overall – including Lance (9th) and Newman (14th). Because of this, he has Pittsburgh going with Tennessee offensive lineman, Trey Smith, in the first round.
SEC Network analyst, Cole Cubelic, recently labeled Smith as the best offensive guard in the Southeastern Conference – widely considered the best conference in college football.
With Ramon Foster retiring and B.J. Finney leaving in free agency, the Steelers brought in Stefen Wisniewski as a stop-gap and drafted Kevin Dotson in the fourth round this year. However, the Steelers are no strangers to taking interior offensive lineman high in the draft, and they did so in 2010 and 2012 with Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro, respectively.
In the second round, Esterling surprisingly has the Steelers going with Georgia running back Zamir White despite addressing the position in four consecutive years with James Conner (2017), Jaylen Samuels (2018), Benny Snell (2019), and Anthony McFarland (2020).
Pittsburgh is, however, missing a feature running back, and Conner could be leaving in free agency this offseason, so perhaps this is something that could be a possibility. White is listed at 6’0” and 215 pounds and was a backup to DeAndre Swift for the Bulldogs last year – carrying the ball just 78 times for 408 yards.
It’s impossible to tell this early which direction the Steelers will be looking to go next April, and we would have to think that this could be the year they look to move up and grab a quarterback. The 2020 season will give us a much clearer picture of their needs next year.