2021 NFL Draft Big Board: Ranking the top 150 players

Pete Werner (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Pete Werner (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images) /

The NFL Draft is upon us, and the Steelers have some important decisions to make. Here are my top 150 players of the 2021 draft. 

I mean this as no exaggeration when I say that I’ve spent more time breaking down tape and researching NFL Draft prospects than any human should. Since December, my posse and I have studied film on over 200 players every Saturday morning and typically a few times during the week to get to where we are now.

This is more of a hobby I’ve had over the past few years than anything else, but I’ve come to trust my ability to evaluate NFL talent. Dating back to the 2015 draft class, I have kept a record of every selection I would have made for the Steelers in the first round at the time their selection was made. If I was running the team, it would currently consist of Byron Jones (2015), Myles Jack (2016), T.J. Watt (2017), Lamar Jackson (2018), and Devin Bush (2019). If the Steelers had not moved up in the 2020 draft, I would have taken Montez Sweat.

I don’t do any of this to toot my own horn, but I have developed certain thresholds that I look for in players and I predict their future NFL success based on factors like breakout age, athletic measurables, statistical production, and more. After countless hours of time and effort, here is my big board of the top 150 players in the 2021 NFL Draft:

Who should the Steelers target in the NFL Draft?

There have been multiple reports that the Steelers will elect to go with Alabama running back Najee Harris if he makes it to the 24th overall pick. While this very well could prove to be true, Pittsburgh may want to consider going in a different direction.

Not only do I have a second-round grade on Harris, but he’s also an old player at one of the least important positions in football (I have made my stance very clear on this). Instead, I think the best value for the Steelers in the first round would lie with an interior offensive lineman like Landon Dickerson or Creed Humphrey. If they really wanted to go BPA, they could elect to go defense with a player like Zaven Collins, Trevon Moehrig, or Azeez Ojulari.

Depending on what Pittsburgh does in the first round, they could go a number of different directions on day two. Assuming they passed on taking a running back, Javonte Williams is likely gone at this point. I like Trey Sermon on day two. Though this is a little bit rich for the 55th pick, they may have to take him here as he would be unlikely to make it back to them in the third round.

Other day-two options include center Quinn Meinerz, tight end Pat Freiermuth, cornerbacks Eric Stokes and Asante Samuel, and linebacker Barron Browning.

Potential 2021 NFL Draft sleepers

Obviously, the Steelers aren’t going to take into account my opinions when they are on the clock, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t give them to you anyway. There are a handful of mid-to-late round players that I would be ecstatic about if they landed in Pittsburgh.

One of my favorite players in the draft is Ohio State linebacker, Pete Werner. Werner pops every time I watch him on film. He’s a gritty player who packs a punch coming downhill but is still a great athlete and a fluid mover in space. Pittsburgh could plug him in as a long-term starter next to Devin Bush. I am also a very big Tommy Tremble fan. His ability to block in space at just 20 years old is thoroughly impressive, and the arrow is only pointed up.

Some other ‘sleeper’ prospects I like include OT Spencer Brown, DT Milton Williams, WR Nico Collins, OT D’Ante Smith, EDGE Cameron Sample, WR Simi Fehoko, and WR Jaelon Darden. These players all have solid tape and the upside to develop into starters at the next level, given the opportunity.

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It will be interesting to see which direction the Steelers go early in the NFL Draft. Chances are that Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert’s board looks very different than mine. Let’s hope they come away with some great players again this year.