The Pittsburgh Steelers draft wasn’t executed as well as many would have hope for. They selected players to fill some major needs but two of the biggest needs (quarterback and cornerback) were ignored. Of their nine total picks, Pittsburgh took four offensive players early in the draft, four straight defensive players, and then a punter. I’m not disrespecting any of the players selected early in the draft but there were a few reaches. The Steelers are hanging their season on Ben Roethlisberger once more and the 2021 roster isn’t as exciting as the 2020 version.
Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Recap 2021: Day One
1.24 | Najee Harris | RB | Alabama
Najee Harris was the best selection by Pittsburgh, but he is even criticized as a first-round pick. Many analysts are against RBs going in the first round unless they are a generational talent. Newsflash: Harris is that type of guy. He’s NFL-ready and the complete package at RB that Pittsburgh has had since Le’Veon Bell (possibly even better).
Sure, there were bigger needs at the moment but I am behind this pick for multiple reasons. First, any player is worthy of going in the first round if it makes sense and this one does. The Steelers are inevitably heading towards a rebuild on the offense and a young QB will be behind center. One thing that any team with a rookie QB needs is a fantastic workhorse RB he can rely upon. Harris can be the safety net for whoever the Steelers decide to bring in as Ben’s heir (Please not Rudolph).
Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Recap 2021: Day Two
2.55 | Pat Freiermuth | TE | Penn State
Pat Freiermuth was presumably the top TE in the draft class but the Steelers could have waited and still gotten a quality player. I get it that he’s compared to being a young Heath Miller-type but there were bigger needs to answer at pick 55. Eric Ebron hasn’t been the red-zone threat he was with Indy and Zach Gentry hasn’t proven himself yet. Again, this offense will look different in a year or so and the youth will be leading it. Freiermuth has excellent hands and blocking ability, solidifying him as another emergency target for the QB.
The problem I have with this pick is Freiermuth’s lack of yards-after-catch. He’s strong but not so nimble or agile. I understand the pick from a future viewpoint but the offensive line and secondary need starters instead of a depth player at TE to pocket for later.
3.87 | Kendrick Green | C | Illinois
Many were pleased with the Kendrick Green selection and adding a quality starter to the offensive line. Maurkice Pouncey has retired and neither of the current centers are strong replacements. The upside to Green is he can swing between center or guard as a starter in the NFL. The issue with him is he isn’t the greatest anchor at center and isn’t ideal for a zone scheme. I am sure the Steelers can coach him up on the field and in the weight room to make him the ideal candidate for center. They just need an offensive line coach up to that task and I don’t see Adrian Klemm as that guy.
Honestly, I would have preferred Creed Humphrey in the second round.
Pittsburgh Steelers Draft Recap 2021: Day Three
4.128 | Dan Moore Jr | OT | Texas A&M
Dan Moore was a bit of a reach, being graded more as a sixth-round talent. He’s a solid athlete with the ability to cut off the inside corner but his footwork has concerns and his body language on the field can give you away. Similar to Green, his weight distribution as an anchor needs tweaking but most of his red flags can be fixed with the right coaching staff. For now, he will provide depth at LT with the possible upside to be groomed into a starter or at least pivotal backup.
4.140 | Buddy Johnson | LB | Texas A&M
Vince Williams was second on the team in tackles last year. Buddy Johnson was drafted in hopes of replacing Williams’ presence in the future. Johnson is a highly athletic and consistent tackler who can be a star on special teams. Scouts and analysts are killing this pick due to his lack of coverage skills. I see this is a nice selection that will work out for the team in the long term. Johnson can rack up tackles all over the field and add some pressure on blitz packages. Williams never excelled in pass coverage, yet is a successful LB on this defense.
5.156 | Isaiah Loudermilk | DL | Wisconsin
Isaiah Loudermilk was destined to be labeled as a bust the moment he was drafted. The Steelers traded a 2022 fourth-round pick to move into the fifth round to select Loudermilk. In nearly every major mock draft and rankings, Loudermilk was seen being undrafted. He’s got the size as a DL in the NFL but lacks next-level power and the ability to find leverage against the run. Pittsburgh had to have seen something in him to trade into the fifth round. At first glance, he resembles Casey Hampton as taking up space and halting blockers from getting to the second level. Hopefully, he has the upside of being like Hampton.
6.216 | Quincy Roche | EDGE | Miami
If anyone is the steal of Pittsburgh’s draft, it is Quincy Roche. He’s got the tools to be a starting pass-rusher. His slender frame and inconsistency in pass coverage knocked down his draft stock. He was regarded as being a third or fourth-round selection and the Steelers add a possible starter here in the sixth round. Alex Highsmith will have some competition on the opposite edge of TJ Watt. Even if he doesn’t get the starting gig, Roche will see the field quite a bit as a rookie.
7.245 | Tre Norwood | S | Oklahoma
Tre Norwood is labeled as a safety but head coach Mike Tomlin defined him as a “swiss army knife”. He’s got experience lining up as a nickel corner and the CBs need depth after key departures in Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson. There are some glaring issues with his recovery speed and athleticism but the versatility as a cornerback makes him a decent pick in the seventh round.
7.254 | Pressley Harvin lll | P | Georgia Tech
Pittsburgh made a splash with their last pick taking a beast of a man in punter Pressley Harvin. He’s a traditional punter with good hang time and quick getting the punt off after the snap. Despite being such a large guy, he will need to shed some weight for conditioning. The upside to Harvin is his experience as a holder and also his ability to throw a decent pass on fake plays. There’s a strong chance he replaces Jordan Berry this year.