After an 11-0 start, the Pittsburgh Steelers were off and flying, cruising towards the playoffs off on the back of a stingy defense and an offense that Ben Roethlisberger had clicking extremely well. Injuries began to mount up and Pittsburgh suddenly started to struggle. Pittsburgh then went on to finish the season with a 1-4 record and barely won the AFC title. In this Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 seven-round mock draft, the Steel City adds a host of new talent who can help with the cap issues.
Pittsburgh has well-documented issues with cap space, and now that their pro bowl center has decided to hang up his cleats, they have roster gaps they need to fill. Maurkice Pouncey has snapped the ball to Ben Roethlisberger for years and now that he has decided to hang it up the future hall of fame quarterback might follow suit.
Roethlisberger is due to earn 41 million dollars against the cap in 2021, so his retirement might not be the worst thing for the Steelers. If he retires, the Steelers will save money against the cap and allow them to keep some of their playmakers from the 2020 season. If that does happen, Pittsburgh will need to make a move up in the draft and find their quarterback of the future.
Luckily for Pittsburgh, they have a young defense full of playmakers and young weapons at the wide receiver position. If they can use the draft to bring in a new quarterback, bolster the offensive line and either keep James Conner or find a replacement they could still challenge in 2021.
On to the draft we go:
Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft
Pick 4 – Zach Wilson – QB – BYU
With Ben Roethlisberger nearing the end of his career the time for a new quarterback is now. Before the draft starts, Pittsburgh should look to make a move up in the draft. If the Steelers can make a deal with the Atlanta Falcons, they can find their man for the future. In this mock draft, the Steelers send their first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 to the Falcons in exchange for their fourth pick in 2021.
So with that pick, the Steelers should select Zach Wilson quarterback from BYU. Wilsons athletic ability will give the Steelers a new dynamic to their offense that they haven’t had in years. That combined with the anticipation and timing he shows on his passing will help the Steelers keep up with the other young quarterbacks in the AFC North.
Back on the clock with the 24th pick, the Steelers make another trade. This time they send the 24th and 244th pick to the Cincinnati Bengals in exchange for the 38th and 69th.
Pick 38 – Wyatt Davis – G – Ohio State
Now that the QB is sorted attention turns to the offensive line. With the 38th pick, the Steelers should select Wyatt Davis from Ohio State.
Pittsburgh’s offensive line is in desperate need of some help and Davis a great start to that. For a team looking to get a run game again, Davis is a beast in the right guard position. His lateral mobility and sheer power can move any defender out of the way and create a running hole in the inside running game. A strong start to a revamped offensive line.
Pittsburgh finds themselves back on the clock with the 55th pick but elects to trade back again. New Orleans sends the 60th and 98th picks in exchange for the Steelers 55th.
Pick 60 – Najee Harris – HB – Alabama
Since James Conner is more than likely heading into free agency, the Steelers will need to find a quality running back. Part of the reason their season came to an abrupt end was their inability to vary the offense. With Najee Harris, that will not be a problem.
With his combination of power and versatility, he will be able to rejuvenate the running attack in Pittsburgh. As each of his college seasons progressed, he got better and better in the passing game. A physical rusher who can catch the ball will prove a problem for the secondary and can provide the quarterback in Pittsburgh with an easy out.
With a player like Najee Harris on the books, the days of powerful rushers in the black and gold may be on their way back.
In their fourth and final trade during the draft, Pittsburgh sends the 69th pick to the Minnesota Vikings in exchange for the 78th and 134th.
Pick 78 – Jalen Mayfield – T – Michigan
Now that they have a running back, the attention returns to the offensive line. Next to become a Steeler is the 6 foot 5, 319-pound offensive tackle from Michigan. Jalen Mayfield has the size and athleticism to become a quality starting lineman in the NFL His athleticism makes him a promising talent in pass protection, and his size will help move defenders out the way in the running game.
Another key piece in a new offensive line in Pittsburgh.
Pick 87 – Chazz Surratt – LB – North Carolina
After a season where Pittsburgh saw their young star Devin Bush lost to injury and then back-up linebacker Robert Spillane also ended up injured, the Steelers need to have plenty of depth. With that in mind, they select Chazz Surratt from North Carolina.
Despite starting his career as a college quarterback, Surratt made the move to the linebacker position before the 2019 season. In that season, he led the Tar Heels with 115 tackles and was the runner up for ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He added 15 tackles for a loss, 6.5 sacks, and 10 quarterback hurries. In the 2020 season, he worked on his skills in coverage and tackling and improved in each game.
He is an exciting young talent and with some guidance from NFL coaches; he could become a star in the league.
Pick 98 – Hamsah Nasirildeen – S- Florida State
With Joe Haden potentially becoming a cap casualty and Mike Hilton hitting free agency the Steelers need to add some depth in the secondary. That depth will come in the shape of the 6 foot 3, 213- pound safety from Florida State. Hamsah Nasirildeen has a strong combination of physicality and athleticism that makes him a joy to watch. He can play man coverage on anyone and neutralize tight ends due to his physicality. A strong player in the secondary who can transform any defense he joins.
Pick 128 – Cornell Powell – WR – Clemson
Everyone knows the Pittsburgh Steelers love drafting a wide receiver so why should 2021 be any different. In Cornell Powell, they would get a receiver who has excellent hands and excellent route-running ability. He burst onto the scene in 2020 and had one of his best games in the College Football Playoff game against Ohio State. With Pittsburgh’s history of developing young receiver talent, Powell could become a featured receiver at Heinz Field.
Pick 134 – Marlon Tuipuloto – DI – USC
Another defensive prospect for the Steelers comes in the form of Marlon Tuipuloto. The defensive line prospect has a strong bull rush and the ability to chase the ball down. In the run game, he identifies his blocking assignment quickly and has the lateral movement to then get to the ball. A player who can add more strength to an already strong defensive line.
Pick 141 – Josh Myers – C – Ohio State
With Maurkice Pouncey heading off into retirement, Pittsburgh will need to find a center for the first time since 2010. In Josh Myers, the Steelers would get a center who is used to a high octane offense. His lateral mobility will allow him to play along the offensive line but his lack of explosiveness prevents him from winning one on one battles consistently. He has had the chance to snap to a quarterback in shotgun and under center and with some guidance during the offseason. He can become a starter in the NFL.
Pick 217 – Patrick Johnson – Edge – Tulane
Another position where Pittsburgh is losing a star player to free agency. Bud Dupree is more than likely heading off to pastures new and we haven’t seen enough of Sam Highsmith to declare him the next best thing. Given that, the Steelers select Patrick Johnson from Tulane.
Johnson has played 34 games over the last three seasons has quietly become one of college football’s most productive defensive playmakers. He has totaled 120 tackles, 21 sacks, 6 forced fumbles, and 34 tackles for a loss. If he is available for the Steelers, he could become a steal in the 2021 draft.
Pittsburgh has picks at 225 and 253 as well. With these picks, they should look at the best players available on either the defensive side of the ball or further players to bolster the offensive line. Players like O’Bryan Goodson on the defense and Tristen Hoge, an offensive guard from BYU, may find themselves in the black and gold.
If Mike Tomlin and company can pull off a draft anything like this, not only will they have their quarterback of the future, but they will have a new offensive line to build around as well as that they get a dynamic runner in Najee Harris and some playmakers on the defensive side of the ball. It’s an entertaining but highly profitable draft for the reigning AFC North champions.