Steelers Mock Draft: Pittsburgh trusts their favorite football programs

Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19). Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Michigan Wolverines defensive lineman Kwity Paye (19). Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports /
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The 2021 NFL Draft is just weeks away. Here’s why I have the Steelers trusting some of their favorite football programs early in the draft.

With NFL Pro Days finally winding down, we are really able to start compiling a list of Pittsburgh’s top candidates heading into the 2021 NFL Draft. Apart from surprisingly retaining JuJu Smith-Schuster, the offseason has not been kind to the Steelers, and they have lost some talented players due to the unfortunate salary cap situation.

Former important pieces like Bud Dupree, Mike Hilton, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams, have now departed from the organization, and Pittsburgh will try to play catch-up to replenish some of the talent that was lost this year. While many are pointing to offense in the first round, I wouldn’t bet on it playing out this way. Here’s what I have the Steelers trusting some very familiar schools in my latest seven-round mock draft:

1. player. 811. . Edge defender. Wolverines . Kwity Paye

Steelers mock draft round 1: Kwity Paye

Mike Tomlin certainly seems to have a special place in his heart for Michigan players, and with the interest the team has shown in the top edge defenders this year, selecting Kwity Paye at pick 24 shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone. Combine this with the fact that Paye tested as a freak athlete, and this pick will be even harder for Pittsburgh to pass up.

At just over 6’2” and 261 pounds, Paye has a bit of a ‘tweener’ frame and may not be for everyone. However, the Steelers have never really had size thresholds for their outside linebackers, and Paye fits the mold of many players they have drafted in the past. While he’s not a perfect process and needs to develop more pass rush moves, his combination of speed (4.57), strength, and twitch is certainly enough to get excited about. Alex Highsmith is a quality football player, but the Steelers value this position more than anyone in the league and they are desperate for another quality pass rusher.