Ranking Steelers 2021 draft picks from worst to best

(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Wisconsin Badgers defensive end Isaiahh Loudermilk (97) Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Isaiahh Loudermilk of Wisconsin is my second worst draft grade.

Let me be clear, at this point of the rankings, none of these draft selections appear to be downright bad. Loudermilk provides something the Steelers showed they legitimately needed during their rough stretch of games in the last 3rd of the season. Depth along the defensive line has been the most underrated need for the Steelers this offseason and they addressed it fairly well.

What brings this pick down in the rankings is the 4th round pick in 2022 that was traded to move up for him. He didn’t test very well athletically even with his massive frame. He has some upside and seems like he could be a stopgap option when Tyson Alualu and/or Cam Heyward decide to retire. He just doesn’t have the upside and athleticism to warrant moving up, especially when the thedraftnetwork had him ranked as the 371st total prospect. We selected him at 156. Yet, in the 5th round, the ability to fill a need for depth with a schematic fit can’t be considered a terrible pick.

Isaiahh Loudermilk: C-

Quincy Roche of Miami is my 3rd worst draft grade.

This is where I’ll start nitpicking on the prospects. In terms of value, and picking the best player available, Roche is a homerun. My problem with Roche is that he appears to have one specific role for the Steelers in 2021. We will see him as a rotational rusher and depth piece. He is an outstanding athlete, but I’m very concerned about his ability to set the edge and blow up run schemes as Bud Dupree use to do. Furthermore, I don’t know how much emphasis he will be willing to put into special teams’ play.

In terms of need, he gives the Steelers another pass rusher and a decent insurance policy should Highsmith or Watt go down with an injury. However, both of the starters are far more complete players than Roche at this point and he will be a liability in the run game for his first season or two. It is concerning imagining the prospect of Highsmith going down with an injury and watching the Browns run their stretch concepts towards Roche’s side. It is still a great value pick with Roche’s athleticism and his scheduled role for the Steelers. It fills a need that we knew Pittsburgh had to address and they executed it well.

Quincy Roche: B-

Pat Freiermuth of Penn State is my 4th worst draft grade.

It is shocking to think I am putting such a great fit for the Steelers right at the bottom half of their draft grades. Freiermuth was the defacto #1 tight end after Kyle Pitts and the only other tight end that could contend would be Hunter Long from Boston College. My problem is that either Freiermuth or Long would have been probably been available to the Steelers in the 3rd. This would have been a great spot to target a possibly starting cornerback as there were a few nice prospects left.

I’m not here to dump on Freiermuth he is a good pick, but as far as the value was concerned the only reason he should have been drafted this high was supply and demand. There were not a lot of good tight ends in this class, but of all the prospects on the board, Pittsburgh could have selected a number of players that would fill needs just as dire, with probably more talent. Still, Freiermuth is going to be fine and is a perfect fit as a do-it-all tight end in Matt Canda’s offense.

Pat Freiermuth: B