Steelers make a Kevin Colbert-like selection in the latest NFL mock draft

Drafting for need and avoiding BPA is a strategy that we hope died when Kevin Colbert left as GM.

TCU v West Virginia
TCU v West Virginia / G Fiume/GettyImages

As free agency marches on, we are seeing significant changes in the latest NFL mock drafts. Teams are filling big needs in free agency, and many of these are expected to alter teams' plans early in the 2024 NFL Draft. The Pittsburgh Steelers are among those teams whose roster already looks significantly different.

Nobody would have guessed that both Russell Wilson and Justin Fields would be on the Steelers in 2024. Pittsburgh was never expected to draft a quarterback in the first round, but they have filled needs at cornerback and linebacker while creating a massive hole at wide receiver following the Diontae Johnson trade.

Despite all this, the latest first-round mock draft from Marcus Mosher of The 33rd Team has the Steelers making a move that feels like something Kevin Colbert would have done late in his tenure as general manager.

With the 20th overall pick in the 2024 NFL Draft, Mosher has Pittsburgh going with West Virginia center, Zach Frazier. Here's what he had to say about the selection.

"The Pittsburgh Steelers cut starting center Mason Cole ahead of free agency and have yet to address that spot. Until they do, it’s foolish to project any other position in Round 1 for the Steelers other than center. Zach Frazier is a sneaky pick for Pittsburgh because he's a perfect fit in Arthur Smith's offense. He's got the athleticism to get to the second level and the toughness to fit in well with the Steelers' culture."

Marcus Mosher, via The 33rd Team

The decision to take Frazier in this 2024 mock draft comes with Oregon's Jackson Powers-Johnson and Duke's Graham Barton still on the board. The Steelers had a top-30 pre-draft visit on Frazier this offseason.

Steelers drafting Zach Frazier would be reaching to fill a need

Frazier is a quality football player, but after diving into his film, this pick certainly feels like a reach this early in the draft. Throughout the process, Frazier has been considered a second-round prospect and is only recently drawing first-round buzz.

The reasons why are baffling. Frazier is coming off a fractured fibula and wasn't able to work out at the NFL Combine. At 6'2 5/8'' and 313 pounds, Frazier has a frame that is already maxed out, but he struggles to anchor in pass protection at times (which is a bad combination).

This simply feels like a decision to fill a major need; nothing more.

Currently, Frazier is the 41st overall player on NFL Mock Draft Database's consensus board, so this would be roughly a twenty-spot reach for Pittsburgh.

While Frazier would likely prove to be a quality selection in Round 2, this feels very rich for what the Steelers would be getting at pick 20. Before Omar Khan and Andy Weidl took over the front office, Kevin Colbert made some questionable decisions in his final five drafts in Pittsburgh.

Instead of targeting the best players at the most valuable positions, Colbert and Mike Tomlin were content digging down the board and filling a big position of need. This obviously proved to be a poor roster-building strategy that caused a ripple effect years down the line.

In 2018, the Steelers had a need at center and they filled it with Terrell Edmunds. In 2019, Pittsburgh packaged a first, second, and third-round pick to move up and fill their void at linebacker by drafting Devin Bush. They did the same in 2022 when they penciled themselves in for a quarterback after Ben Roethlisberger retired.

I'm not saying that Zach Frazier will be a disaster like some of these selections have been, but this would be a very underwhelming first-round selection by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Let's hope this 'drafting for need' strategy died when Kevin Colbert's tenure as GM ended.