2021 NFL Draft Big Board: Who Steelers could target in each round

Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker Zaven Collins (23). Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports
Tulsa Golden Hurricane linebacker Zaven Collins (23). Mandatory Credit: Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports /
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I recently released my top-150 prospects by tier for the 2021 NFL Draft. Here’s who the Steelers could target in each round.  

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for us NFL fans and draft junkies. We are now just one day from the 2021 NFL Draft and I have spent so much time studying the top players coming out this year as I do each year.

2021 has been particularly different for the draft preparation as many of the top prospects opted out due to COVID-19.  That will make this draft even harder for NFL teams to evaluate the talent of each prospect that didn’t play in 2020. Some may have built off of their 2019 season and continue to improve like the jump in play we saw from Christian Barmore or from Joe Burrow a year ago. There are also players who performed worse this past season like DB Shaun Wade from Ohio State. He was mentioned as a potential 1st round player at this time last year, but after a rough 2020 season, he might fall to day three.

We all know that the Steelers have shown interest in running backs Najee Harris and Travis Etienne, but is that the direction they should go in the first round? After numerous hours of studying film, listening to podcasts, and debating, I have ranked my top 150 players for the 2021 NFL Draft:

Tier Rankings for #NFLDraft2021 pic.twitter.com/9HM7FbfoUc

Prospects the Steelers should target in round one

This is my day-one tier of “elite”, 1st rounders, and those borderline 1st round graded prospects.  The Steelers would be wise to take the best player available (BPA) based on positions of need and positions of importance.  I view the Pittsburgh Steelers greatest needs as offensive tackle, cornerback, center, running back, edge defender, and linebacker. Here are players they should consider targeting in the first round, based on value from my draft grades:

OT – Teven Jenkins is a name to watch out for.  He’s a physical and athletic OT the would surely help Steelers rebuild the position.

CB – Either Caleb Fairly or Greg Newsome could still be available, and as long as their medicals don’t worry Steelers, they’d be a great value selection at pick 24.

EDGE – Jaelan Phillips from Miami could be an amazing pick for Pittsburgh if they are fine with his medical checks (concussion history). He would likely be BPA as he’s my 12th ranked prospect.

LB – I’ve been hearing whispers the last few days that Steelers might have interest in Tulsa’s LB Zaven Collins and that would be a great player fit. Collins is a huge LB at 6’5″ and reportedly up to 270lbs. He moves and covers very well, but what he might do best is blitz or rush off the edge. Steelers would be able to use Collins in a multitude of ways to make this a great selection.