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Know your new Steelers enemies after Day 1 of the 2021 Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 3:30pm
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

With the Steelers welcoming new players to hopefully strengthen their team, so will their chief rivals. Take a look at who the Steelers’ AFC North rivals added on Day One and who may haunt Pittsburgh in coming years.

Steeler Nation waited in torture on Thursday and Day 1 of the 2021 Draft to select Najee Harris, they watched closely to see who their AFC North rivals would select to improve their squad. Last year, Joe Burrow, Jedrick Wills and Patrick Queen entered the fray the first day. Here are the guys the Steelers will see twice a year for a good while.

Round 1, Pick 5 Cincinnati Bengals select Ja’Marr Chase - LSU Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

6’0”/208 lbs.

2019 Stats: 84 Rec, 1,780 Yards, 21.2 YPC, 20 TDs

The Bengals got Joe Burrow another weapon in the first round, but they ignored getting their quarterback the protection that he so dearly needs. What they did do is get a dominant combat-catch receiver to add to Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins. This is going to be a dynamic offense if they can keep Burrow clean.

Round 1, Pick 26 Cleveland Browns select CB Greg Newsome II - Northwestern Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

6’1”/190 lbs.

2020 Stats: 12 Tackles, 9 Pass Defenses, 1 interception

Cleveland have solid cornerbacks in the persons of Denzel Ward and Greedy Williams. The addition of late riser Greg Newsome on adds to the stable of shutdown corners in Cleveland. Bad new for the Steelers, but it would have read worse if Zaven Collins ended up in “The Land”.

Round 1, Pick 27 Baltimore Ravens select WR Rashod Bateman - Minnesota Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

6’2”/210 lbs.

2020 Stats: 36 Rec, 472 Yards, 13.1 YPC, 2 TDs

The Ravens have had an explosive offense for the past couple of seasons, but that was courtesy of running the ball very well. The passing game has been suspect and B-more attempts once again to make an impact out wide, Will Bateman be just another failed pick or will his great size and route-running ability make the difference that Charm City football craves?

Round 1, Pick 31 Baltimore Ravens select EDGE Jayson Oweh - Penn State Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

6’5”/252 lbs.

2020 Stats: 38 tackles, 0 sacks, 0 interceptions, 1 passes defense, 0 fumble recoveries, 0 forced fumbles

Oweh is a sensational athlete with astounding size, but doesn’t rack up the sacks in the manner in which you would think. He has an incredible high motor and could help add more toughness to the Ravens.

Will Chase, Newsome, Bateman and Oweh be names in the Steelers-Bengals, Steelers-Ravens and Steelers-Browns rivalry and victimize Pittsburgh for years to come or will they be just another victim of the black and gold? We will see.

Todd McShay calls the Steelers’ pick of Najee Harris the biggest “glaring need” in the draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 2:30pm
Mickey Welsh via Imagn Content Services, LLC

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ top draft pick was labeled as a big win for the black and gold.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ global fan base was waiting anxiously to see who their favorite team would take, and as the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft got underway fans were glued to their television sets to see how the draft board started to break. What happened was something no one envisioned.

Players like Alex Leatherwood and Zaven Collins were drafted well ahead of expectations, and this turned the entire draft upside down. Suddenly, the 24th pick was approaching, and the Steelers suddenly had options.

Chrisitan Darrisaw and Teven Jenkins were both still on the board, and dynamic defender Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (JOK) was also still available. Fans were wondering which direction the team would be heading, considering at one point all everyone was talking about was the running back position.

They ended up selecting Najee Harris out of Alabama, and ESPN’s NFL Draft expert Todd McShay declared the pick the best addressing a “glaring need” of all the picks in Round 1. See what he had to say below:

Which team best addressed a glaring need?

The Pittsburgh Steelers took care of their running back position in a big way, landing one of the top two in the draft at No. 24. Alabama’s Najee Harris has power, speed and size, and I really liked the decisiveness he showed during his final college season. He is excellent between the tackles as a runner, but he will also play a role in the pass game and effectively help out in pass protection.

The Steelers’ 3.6 yards per carry ranked last in the NFL last season, and then their lead back — James Conner — signed elsewhere. Benny Snell Jr., who rushed for only 368 yards on 111 carries in 2020, was atop the depth chart. The Pittsburgh offense faded down the stretch last season, as a once 11-0 team finished at 12-4, and the lack of a run game was a big part of the problem. During the first five games of the season, the team’s top rusher broke 100 yards four times. During the final five games, a running back broke 40 yards just one time.

Harris is a three-down back who can immediately solve the issues at the position and provide the Steelers with something they’ve been missing.

What do you think about McShay’s commentary of the Steelers’ top pick? Do you think the Steelers just filled a need, or did they get a playmaker who can help the offense get even better? Can Harris not just be another guy, but the guy? Can Harris start from Day 1?

All of these questions remain, and will until training camp begins, but the Steelers are far from done in the 2021 NFL Draft. Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of the draft.

Stock Report: See whose stock is rising, and falling, after drafting Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 1:30pm
Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Whose stock went up, and whose stock went down on day one of the 2021 NFL Draft?

The Steelers Stock Report is here to give you updates on trends and events that are likely to affect the team in the future. There are few events that affect an NFL team as much as a first round pick. With the Steelers selection of Najee Harris in the 2021 NFL Draft, what ripples does that send through the organization? The Steeler Stock Report is here for that exact reason.

Stock Up: Running back

The Steelers running back room just got a lot better. There’s no denying that. Najee Harris was the top running back in this class, and he will immediately take over as the primary back in the Steelers offense. With James Conner gone the running back room looked to be led by Benny Snell who ran for 426 yards in his rookie year, and ran for less than that last season. Whether you wanted a running back in the first round or not, it is clear that Najee Harris upgrades the position instantly.

Stock Down: Benny Snell

It follows that Benny Snell’s stock just took a nose dive. Mike Tomlin loves feature backs, and he got one. Najee Harris is a three down back and that means Benny Snell’s work will be spot work, and he has been terrible in that role. In his first two seasons when Benny Snell got at least 10 carries in a game he averaged 4.43 yards per carry. When he got less than 10 carries? 1.87 yards per carry. With James Conner in front of him Benny Snell didn’t get a lot of chances to be that main running back. The drafting of Najee Harris means Snell will have even less opportunity in the future, and his role as a backup runner and spot reliever may be in jeopardy, because he is so bad in that role.

Stock Up: The legacy of Le’Veon Bell

I’m not talking about the drama that surrounded Le’Veon Bell’s final years here, but the unique style of runner that he was, and his role in the offense. Reading a scouting report of Najee Harris might sound familiar. Great vision, patience to allow blocks to open lanes, enough size and power to break arm tackles, lower top speed, good route running and really good hands making him a threat as a receiver not just out of the backfield but as a major part of the passing offense. Najee Harris and Le’Veon Bell are different people, Najee Harris isn’t Le’Veon Bell, but it feels like the Steelers saw a chance to get a player who could fill the same roles Le’Veon Bell filled and they took it. When Kevin Colbert said “Najee is as complete a back as we could hope to get,” it sounds like they got their replacement for the back that walked away from a long term deal here.

Stock Down: Analytics

You can read about it lots of places, and hear about it even more, drafting a running back in the first round isn’t worth it. The position isn’t worth it, the career value is too short, you can find better runners later in the draft. . .

The Steelers didn’t listen. Time will tell if they were right to do so, but one thing is clear, when it comes to analytics telling the Steelers what to do, they do not care.

Stock Up: -Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner

The major problem with taking a running back in the first round was how much more difficult it will be to find both a center and tackle that can start in their first season. With center looking like a much bigger need than tackle, the Steelers passing on Tevin Jenkins to draft a running back shows that the Steelers are comfortable putting themselves in a position where both Okorafor and Banner are the likely starters in 2021. That is a pretty good show of faith, as Okorafor has yet to win a starting job, he has only starter because of injury, and while Banner won the right tackle job in 2020, his first game at the position was not only his first NFL start, it was his only NFL to this point, and he will be coming off an injury in 2021.

Stock Down: Upgrading the offensive line

It isn’t just tackle either, there are no guarantees that a top center will be available at pick #55. Upgrading the offensive line is now something that the Steelers have to hope they can do, not something they know they can do. Steeler fans saw in 2020 how important depth on the line was, as rookie Kevin Dotson, backup Chuks Okorafor, and third string center JC Hassenauer all started at least 4 games, and the Steelers offense was worst when they had to start Hassenauer. Quality backups on the offensive line turn into injury replacement starters frequently.

Stock Up: Art Rooney II’s statements

This offseason wasn’t the first time Art Rooney II talked about the run game being a priority, but before this draft those statements led to the same old strategy of using mid round picks on lineman and running backs. That was not the case in the 2021 draft. Mike Tomlin went out of his way at their pre-draft press conference to point out that Art Rooney is the boss, and then he and Kevin Colbert went out and got the best running back in the draft, and you can’t do more than that to show you are listening to the boss.

Steelers Nation shares their thoughts on the Steelers first round pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 1:00pm
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Steelers fans had a wide range of emotions when it came to the addition of Najee Harris

Najee Harris is a Pittsburgh Steeler, and just about everyone that follows this team has some sort of opinion about it. From celebrities to the average fan tweets, comments, and posts were being shared at record pace. While most of the social media was fairly positive toward the pick, with anything you find the good, the bad, and the ugly. Only time will tell which side was right. But as for now let’s take a look at some of the best fan reaction to the Pittsburgh Steelers first round pick.

The Good

And there's your offensive rookie of the year.

Kevin Colbert, I love you.

— ً (@utdrobbo) April 30, 2021

BOOM!! GREAT PICK, WELCOME TO THE BURGH https://t.co/WmPNSdVp3l

— Billy Gardell (@BillyGardell) April 30, 2021

Yes! Najee22 all the way to the steel Curtain backfield.

— Curtis Maxwell (@DjcurtC) April 30, 2021

Great pick by my Steelers baby!!! Congrats @ohthatsNajee22 Ground Game is back baby!!! Super Bowl!!

— Draymond Green (@Money23Green) April 30, 2021

Najee Harris is a Pittsburgh Steeler

— Ellie Finnerty (@elliefinnerty) April 30, 2021

With any first round pick you're bound to see heaps of positivity. General Manager Kevin Colbert has hit on so many draft picks that he has earned that right. The Steelers were also able to address a big need with a very popular player amongst fans. All in all this reaction was expected — who knew Draymond Green was a Steelers fan...

The Meh

i dont want it i’m sorry

— joe (@FizzyJoe) April 30, 2021

OK so, who's gonna block for him?

— George (@GS09395) April 30, 2021

Well that about does it. Go buy your Najee Harris jersey.

— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) April 30, 2021

Some just wanted the Steelers to go in another direction which is totally fine. Sure the Steelers can back this pick up with supporting picks but this group wanted the Steelers to address the other holes first. How did Poni get in there..?

The Ugly

drafting a running back in the first round doesn't make any sense.

— Tark (@Tark_mexeira) April 30, 2021

You would think our FO would be smarter than this. We're the Giants now.

— Goonsberry (@zstansbe) April 30, 2021

Bad pick. You don’t draft a RB in the 1st round. Especially when you need OC, LB, and QB. #CmonMan #Steelers #BadPick

— Todd Blues Nole (@FSUKXAZ) April 30, 2021

This group hates that a running back went in the first round. They see the needs at hand and wanted the team to address those far before a running back.

But what do you think? How did you react when the Steelers announced Najee Harris as their first round draft pick? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

Winners and Losers after the Steelers first round pick of Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 12:30pm
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers have their man, and it is time to take a look at some winners and losers after Day 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team who rarely finds themselves befuddled during the course of an NFL Draft. The 2021 NFL Draft was no different. When the Steelers’ pick came up at No. 24, they wasted little time making their pick.

Alabama RB, Najee Harris.

Immediately, from the moment the pick was made, a ripple effect took place throughout the Steelers organization. Some will benefit from the pick, while others will be on the losing side of the selection.

This is where the winners and losers column comes into play. I go through who could be labeled as ‘winners’ after the pick of Harris, and those who could be labeled ‘losers’.

Let’s get down to it...

Winners

Najee Harris
Why: This is a no-brainer. Harris wasn’t just a first round pick, but he was the first running back taken in the draft. The pick right after the Steelers at No. 25, the Jacksonville Jaguars, took Travis Etienne, so those who think the Steelers could have waited and gotten their guy, you might have to reconsider this to be truth. Harris will have every opportunity to prove himself, and the hope is the Steelers put him in a position to succeed by committing to the run more. Harris and the Steelers are a great fit.

Adrian Klemm
Why: Klemm takes over the offensive line and he gets a new shiny running back to go with his position group. Sure, the hope is the Steelers will still address the offensive line in the coming rounds, but Klemm getting a quality back will only help improve the running game. By proxy, the team improving the running game will be a positive reflection on Klemm as a coach. A win-win for the first time offensive line coach.

Art Rooney II
Why: AR2 wanted to improve the running game, and you just knew the Steelers were going to make a bold statement. Remember, just because everyone knew the Steelers wanted Harris doesn’t mean it wasn’t a bold statement. This message was sent loud and clear to the organization and the fan base, we want to run the ball better. Rooney has made some significant changes this offseason, now he has to hope they pay off.

Ben Roethlisberger
Why: When people think about Roethlisberger potentially winning a Super Bowl in the waning years of his career, they compare him to Peyton Manning or John Elway with the Broncos. What did both of those quarterbacks have when they won late in their careers? A running game. The Steelers taking Harris shows the commitment to the running game, and after 2020 you would have to think Roethlisberger isn’t upset with the pick. He should be happy, after all throwing the ball 40+ a week didn’t lead to success.

Zach Banner / Chuks Okorafor
Why: The Steelers could have taken Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins, who wasn’t drafted in the first round, but instead went with the running back. If Jenkins was the pick it would have sent a shot across the bow of Banner and Okorafor. Nonetheless, they leave Day 1 unscathed, will Day 2 be more of the same? Only time will tell...

Matt Canada
Why: Mike Tomlin said the team’s scheme wasn’t good last year (insert Randy Fichtner under bus tires). Canada now gets a first round running back, and arguably the best running back in the draft, to help improve this aspect of the Steelers’ offense. If the team is able to find some valuable talent along the offensive line in the coming days, Canada won’t have personnel to blame if the running game falls flat on its face again.

Mock Drafters
Why: Everyone and their cousin knew the Steelers were interested in Harris, and all the draftnik mock drafters were in love with mocking Harris to the Steelers. Count this as one of the few they got right. While they sit in their mom’s basement at their computer they have to be grinning from ear to ear.

Losers

Benny Snell / Jaylen Samuels
Why: As much as Harris being a winner is a no-brainer, Snell and Samuels saw their hopes of having a significant role with the team decrease. In fact, it now is a battle for both of these players to even make the team in 2021. I believe one, but not both, will be on the roster when the regular season rolls around. Who will it be? The better man will out perform the other...should be a good battle.

Other hopeful rookie RBs
Why: Plenty of fans were fans of other running backs in the draft, and players like North Carolina’s Javonte Williams had openly talked about the Steelers as a potential landing spot. That is at thing of the past at this point, and running backs like Williams are still out there wondering which team will take a shot at drafting him on Day 2.

Adrian Klemm
Why: Wait, wasn’t Klemm on the winners list? He was! And he is also on the losers list, but for different reasons. Klemm could have gotten Jenkins, who would have dramatically improved the team’s running game, but the organization went with the ball carrier. All position coaches are going to want their position group to get priority in the draft, in this case Klemm didn’t get what he wanted. This will put more of an emphasis on his coaching in 2021 unless the Steelers can add some serious talent on Days 2 and 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

With Najee Harris comes increased pressure to elevate the Steelers offensive line in 2021

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 12:05pm
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers aren’t the only team looking for lineman on Day 2 of the 2021 NFL draft.

“You can find quality lineman in the second and third round of this draft.”

“The Steelers got Kevin Dotson in the fourth round, they can do it again.”

“Offensive line is deep, grab a position that doesn’t have that depth first.”

Those statements have been heard a lot in Pittsburgh during the lead up to the draft, and even more since the Steelers selected Najee Harris with Teven Jenkins and all the centers still on the board. Those statements aren’t wrong. They also aren’t exclusive to the Steelers.

The Falcons needed a tackle, but they took Kyle Pitts. That’s fine, they can get a tackle in the second round.

The Bengals passed on Penei Sewell to draft Joe Burrows’ favorite receiver Ja’Marr Chase. That’s okay, they can address the offensive line in the second and third round.

The Dolphins need interior lineman, they drafted a wide receiver and an edge.

The Jaguars got their quarterback in Trevor Lawrence and running back in Travis Etienne, they would be wise to upgrade their line tonight.

It goes on and on.

In Round 1, linemen fell to the 20’s that weren’t expected to fall that far. That means a lot of teams that need offensive line are still looking for offensive lineman. And the majority of those teams pick before the Steelers in Round 2 and Round 3.

I wouldn’t be surprised if eight offensive lineman currently on the board are gone by the time the Steelers pick at 55. I would be surprised if less than five of them are taken. That won’t be a problem, if the players taken are tackles and guards. If teams start taking the centers, then the Steelers could be in trouble.

There’s a lot of depth on the offensive line, but there isn’t a lot of early, year-one starting depth. If the Steelers can’t get a center with early, year-one starting ability, then Najee Harris is running behind B.J. Finney. Finney was a solid reserve for the Steelers and in 2019, started four games and the Steelers run game didn’t suffer in those games. In 2020 he couldn’t couldn’t get on the field for NFL teams that desperately needed centers. If Finney can bounce back to his form he showed with the Steelers, he’s a guy that you can’t start a few games and be okay. More than that? I’m not so sure.

And that leads us to some not-so-great possibilities. What if Creed Humphrey and Quinn Meinerz are gone by pick 55? Do the Steelers have to take a chance on Landon Dickerson or overdraft a Josh Myers? If they sit out the second, then other teams get shots at the remaining centers.

The Steelers need to get a center tonight. They need a center that can take over the starting job early in the season. Because, just like the Bengals can’t afford to spend a first round pick on a stud quarterback and not give him a line to protect him, the Steelers can’t afford to draft a top running back and then fail to give him a line that will let him succeed. Joe Burrow had zero value after Week 11 of the 2020 season. He was hurt and didn’t play.

If the Steelers don’t give Najee Harris a line to run behind, even if he stays healthy, his value to the team will be drastically reduced. And while talent remains in the NFL draft, there are a lot of teams looking to improve their offensive lines. The pressure is on Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert to deliver an upgrade to the offensive line, and to do it tonight.

Mock Draft: A revised Steelers mock draft heading into Day 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 11:10am
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mock drafts are everywhere and this year the concept of a seven-round prediction is even more difficult due to the opt-outs and a deep draft. With very little expectations, BTSC’s Bryan Anthony Davis revises his original mock after Day 1.

I know it’s probably old news by now, but the Steelers selected Najee Harris on Thursday with the 24th pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. Many Steelers fans were elated with the selection of a dominant running back, but others were enraged that the Steelers passed up bolstering the offensive line. But there are still seven more picks to go. Will they get help on the line on Day 2? With the selection of Harris instead of a trade-down scenario that netted Javonte Williams and Green Bay’s selection of Georgia CB Eric Stokes, my seven-round mock took a hit. So here is a slightly updated mock after the Day 1 happenings.

Round 2, Pick No. 55 C Creed Humphrey - Oklahoma Photo by John E. Moore III/Getty Images

Much to my chagrin, a good bit of Steeler Nation followed the narrative all along that the Oklahoma center isn’t Round 1 caliber talent. After watching a ton of studs drop out of the first round, I can see the Steelers getting a top-flight lineman at No. 55. They might even get their choice between Bama’s Landon Dickerson and Humphrey. Because of Dickerson’s injury history, I would expect Creed to win the faceoff. A stout blockade as a pass protector, the wrestler since the age of four is a tank that can pave the way for Najee. If they can pull off this pick, and I think that he might be there in this deep draft, they’ll have two possible Week 1 starters with their initial two choices.

Round 3, Pick 87 OT Jackson Carman - Clemson Photo by Gregory Fisher/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Carman protected Trevor Lawrence’s blindside at Clemson and did a pretty decent job of keeping the overall top pick alive. The powerful run blocker also paved roads for Travis Etienne. At 6’5” and 317 lbs., Carman has the size and should have the skill to open holes for Harris and afford time for Ben Roethlisberger and whomever follows.

Round 4, Pick 128 CB Trill Williams - Syracuse Photo by Bryan M. Bennett/Getty Images

The Syracuse product is a physical corner with excellent size and speed. Williams is tough in coverage and is equally strong against the run. The 6’2” Trill could help fill voids left by Mike Hilton and Steven Nelson in the secondary.

Round 4, Pick 140 WR Anthony Schwartz - Auburn Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

This might be a pipe dream and there may be more pressing needs on defense, but imagine a toy like this for Big Ben and in the return game. The 6’ Schwartz is fast with a capital F. The Auburn Tiger has bested Tyreek Hill in a foot race and ran an unofficial 4.26 in the 40 at his Pro Day. He’s rising up draft boards and would be dangerous in Pittsburgh.

Round 6, Pick 216 EDGE Shaka Toney - Penn State Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images

Although a bit undersized, Shaka Toney excels at getting to the passer. The Nittany Lion would add fantastic depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith.

Round 7, Pick 245 DT Tedarrell Slaton - Florida Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Impressive size at 360 lbs., Slaton gets great leverage and strength in the trenches and coud be a developmental NT for the Steelers.

Round 7, Pick 254 TE Pro Wells - TCU

The Steelers need a blocking tight end to pair with Eric Ebron. Wells can catch the ball as well with three touchdowns last season.

After I get these picks wrong, I’ll be back tomorrow for another stab at it.

Podcast: If you are going to be critical of the Steelers’ pick of Najee Harris, do it right

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 11:00am

Jeff Hartman brings an AM studio show to the BTSC family of podcasts with the latest episode of “Let’s Ride“.

So the Steelers selected Alabama’s Najee Harris with the first pick in the NFL Draft, Some fans are absolutely loving the selection of the running back, while others are loathing the fact that an offensive lineman wasn’t selected first. You might hate the decision that came from the front office personnel in the Bill Nunn War Room, but don’t hate the player. This is the main topic that will be discussed on the latest episode of the morning flagship show in the BTSC family of podcasts. Join BTSC co-editor Jeff Hartman for this and more on “Let’s Ride”.

Check out the rundown of the show:

  • News and Notes
  • Hart to Heart
  • and MUCH MORE!

Jeff Hartman of BTSC walks you through everything you need to know regarding the black-and-gold.

Be sure to check out this and all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE

Spotify: CLICK HERE

Google Play: CLICK HERE

You can listen to the show in the player below.

Film Breakdown: The Steelers get their man in Alabama RB Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 10:00am
Mickey Welsh-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers took Najee Harris with their top pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. What does he bring to the team? We break down the film...

The Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris with their first pick of the 2021 NFL draft Thursday night. Early reactions suggest it is a polarizing pick. While many fans are thrilled to add him to the Steelers’ shallow pool of running backs, others believe they would have been better served choosing a player like Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins or Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, both of whom were available when the Steelers selected. Regardless, Pittsburgh got the consensus top-rated running back in the draft at a position where they lack a qualified starter.

I’ve argued consistently this off-season that the Steelers needed to invest a top pick in a running back, so I’m neither surprised nor disappointed Harris is the choice. I’ve broken him down on several occasions before. You can read one of those breakdown in the article below. The Steelers are no doubt bringing Harris to Pittsburgh to be their starter and every-down back. Therefore, rather than cherry-pick clips from various games, this article focuses on a single game so we can examine what Harris does well and where he struggles over the course of a sixty-minute contest.

The game I’ve chosen is Alabama’s 31-7 victory over Notre Dame in the 2021 Rose Bowl in which Harris rushed 15 times for 125 yards and caught 4 passes for 30 yards. It was neither his best nor worst performance of the season. It’s a good game to evaluate, though, because it showcased both his strengths and weaknesses.

Let’s take a look.

12:30 1st quarter, no score

On Alabama’s second offensive play of the game, quarterback Mac Jones could not find a target down the field and dropped a throw to Harris (#22) in the flat. Harris ran a check-release concept, looking first to help on an interior pass rusher before slipping out of the backfield into his route. He caught the football easily and burst ahead for a first down:

Notice how Harris finished the run by barreling over a Notre Dame defender. The natural catching ability, quickness in the open field and physical running style are all attractive features of Harris’s game. He will be a comparable receiver to departed starter James Conner and an upgrade as a pure runner.

11:21 1st quarter, no score

Pass protection, however, is another story. This is an area where Conner was proficient and where Harris, at this point in his development, struggles.

Here, Harris is tasked with picking up a blitz. That’s Owusu-Koremoah (#6) coming through the left B-gap, along with an inside backer. Alabama protects with a four-man slide into the boundary while their right tackle locks on to the edge rusher. That leaves Harris responsible for any stunt to the field. Notre Dame makes his job difficult by sending two players to the same gap (all the rage in blitz schemes these days). Harris should pick up the inside rusher since he has the most direct path to Jones. But he seems confused about who to block and winds up blocking no one:

Jones manages to scramble away and complete a short throw to the sideline. But Harris has to be more decisive here. While Notre Dame did a nice job creating a plus-one away from Alabama’s slide protection, Harris has to understand that, if he isn’t sure who to block, he should get a body on the first man who shows to offer some protection for his quarterback.

Later, Harris gets over-powered in protection. This is simply not physical enough and will get him put on his back against a quality NFL rusher. Pass protection is the biggest weakness in Harris’s game at present, and the biggest threat to his status as an immediate every-down back in Pittsburgh:

6:30 1st quarter, 7-0 Alabama

Midway through the first quarter, Alabama started a drive at their own three yard-line. They ran a simple inside zone play, with all the linemen blocking the gap to their right. Bama’s left guard, however, failed to chip off of a double-team on the 3-tech defender, allowing the linebacker (#40) to come through untouched. The run was designed to hit in the A-gap through which the backer emerged. But Harris adjusted seamlessly. He immediately wound the run to the backside edge, then used a nice stiff-arm to nearly create a huge play:

This is a great example of the excellent vision Harris often displays. He is patient getting to the line of scrimmage but once he sees a hole he is fast through it. His style in that regard is similar to LeVeon Bell’s. Harris should not be hyped as a runner on Bell’s level but his ability to see holes, navigate clutter and find space is better than any back the Steelers have had since Bell’s glory days.

5:06 1st quarter, 7-0 Alabama

If there’s a single play that could have prompted the Steelers to select Harris, it’s this one:

That’s a 230 pound back bouncing off his own blocker, re-gathering, hurdling a defender and then sprinting away from the pursuit (he was eventually bumped out of bounds at the 15 yard line). This type of athleticism, coupled with the speed, size, vision and power Harris employs, had to be extremely attractive to the Steelers. While Clemson’s Travis Etienne was my favorite back in this draft, Etienne does not possess Harris’s game in full. That was likely the tipping point in Pittsburgh preferring Harris.

5:39 2nd quarter, 21-7 Alabama

While the previous run was spectacular, this next one may have been just as valuable in Pittsburgh’s evaluation process. It doesn’t look like much at first. Harris runs a basic split-zone concept with a nifty bootleg option attached as window dressing for the linebackers. The play is disrupted by penetration from Notre Dame’s front that muddies Harris’s ability to find a cut. Rather than panic and run into his own linemen, as we’ve seen Steelers’ running backs often do the past few years, Harris patiently jump-cuts, gets square, then winds his way through the chaos with a series of short, choppy steps. He doesn’t have a seam to escape through but he keeps finding small pockets in which to move forward. The result is a seven yard gain on a play that initially looked dead:

The value of this run is significant. Rather than face 2nd and 10, where the play-calling is difficult, Alabama had a 2nd and 3 instead. There isn’t an offensive coordinator in America who doesn’t like that situation. The splash plays are nice but if Harris can routinely make these types of runs in Pittsburgh, he will provide a huge upgrade to the rushing attack.

4:14 2nd quarter, 21-7 Alabama

There are times, though, when that patience can cause him to be indecisive. Here he is a few plays later, missing a huge window to his right to turn what could have been an effective run into a pedestrian one. Watch how, as Harris receives the handoff, he immediately stutter-steps, as if he’s anticipating having to wait for a hole to develop. This is a situation where you want him to trust his eyes. He should know that on split-zone runs like this, the cut is backside. When it pops open this quickly, there’s no need to stutter. If you think back to Harris’s strong run from near his own goal line, his quick reaction turned a dead play into a nice gain. Here, the opposite happens. By reacting slowly, he leaves yards on the field. Hopefully, as he develops a rhythm with his linemen in Pittsburgh, he will eliminate missed opportunities like this one:

3:36 2nd quarter, 21-7 Alabama

A few plays later, we see the indecisiveness again. Upon receiving a swing pass, Harris doesn’t have a lot of room to operate into the boundary. This is not going to be a big play so he would be better served making one cut, running hard and perhaps using a stiff arm to gain four or five yards. Instead, he dances around trying to juke the defender and is dropped for no gain. Knowing when to use his nimble feet to create space and when to simply lower his shoulder and hammer ahead will be a big part of Harris’s maturation.

6:20 3rd quarter, 21-7 Alabama

Inevitably, though, Harris makes far more NFL-caliber runs than high school-level mistakes. He is a smart player who understands the game. That was on display in the second half, as Alabama turned increasingly to the run to put the Irish away. Knowing the objective was to grind out first downs and tick the clock, Harris was far more decisive. He became the prototypical one-cut-and-go back, as we see below on one of my favorite runs of the game. On this one-back power play, Harris cuts away from a linebacker trying to blow a backside gap, follows his pulling guard and, rather than bouncing the play to the outside, where he could be run out of bounds, makes a smart cut up the field, squares his shoulders and bulls ahead for five yards:

Here is that decisiveness again, this time in the fourth quarter with Bama up 28-7. This is outside zone, a play we should see Harris run a lot in Matt Canada’s system. He quickly recognizes the cut, gets vertical and asserts himself. Runs like this one and the one above are not sexy but they are NFL runs. Harris might be described similarly: he’s not a particularly flashy player but his game is smart and professional.

Outlook

Barring an injury or unforeseen development, Harris will be the starter at running back right out of the gate in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are in win-now mode in the dying days of Ben Roethlisberger’s career. Harris is a win-now pick. He can walk in and do almost everything they need him to on day one. He is 23 years old with a ton of college experience. Expect the Steelers to run him hard and get their money out of him.

Notice I said he can do almost everything. Harris does have holes in his game, most notably in pass protection, where he will need to be more physical. He will also have to learn the difference between patience and indecisiveness as a ball-carrier. NFL defenses are too fast to afford a running back the latter. And, if the Steelers don’t add some butt-kickers to their offensive line, it won’t matter how good Harris is. He’ll be running into the same brick walls that have stymied Pittsburgh rushers the past couple of seasons.

That said, Steelers’ fans should be excited about Harris. He’s the most talented runner they’ve had since Bell and immediately upgrades the position. Better yet, he’s the player the Steelers really wanted. This wasn’t a panic pick like Artie Burns in 2016 or a reach like some have suggested about Terrell Edmunds. There were other options on the board at pick 24. Good ones, too. But the Steelers took the player they had targeted throughout the draft process. Given their history of success with first selections — 18 of Kevin Colbert’s 21 top picks as Steelers’ general manager have been good-to-great players in Pittsburgh, with only Burns, Jarvis Jones and Ziggy Hood the exceptions — that should make Steelers’ fans feel pretty comfortable.

So, the Steelers got their man in round one of the draft. Now, as we head into day two, their challenge is to acquire some physical blockers who can open holes for him. Stay tuned, and welcome to Pittsburgh Najee Harris!

Updating the Steelers running back depth chart after Day 1 of the NFL Draft

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 9:00am
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

While the running back room is somewhat crowded, the Steelers looked to make a major upgrade.

After drafting Najee Harris on Day 1 of the 2021 NFL draft, the Steelers currently have six running backs on the roster. The projected depth chart at running back for the Steelers is as follows:

Running Backs
  1. Najee Harris
  2. Benny Snell Jr.
  3. Jaylen Samuels
  4. Anthony McFarland Jr.
  5. Kalen Ballage
  6. Trey Edmunds

Yes, you read that correctly. Although I have always been one to say that the Steelers do not draft players to start Day 1, running back is entirely different monster. To invest the draft capital in Najee Harris as the Steelers chose to do, he needs to be the guy right out of the gate. While the job won’t be exactly handed to him, he will have every opportunity to be the guy in the huddle for the first offensive snap of 2021 come September.

Just to make things clear, for this depth chart fullback Derek Watt is not included as his position group is where he is a man by himself. Lumping Watt in with the running backs clouds the issue of where he would fall in the hierarchy of running backs.

What is interesting about the Steelers depth chart is not only do they have an abundance of players at running back, they all took snaps in 2020 in the NFL with the exception of the newly drafted Harris. The player with the most carries in 2020 was Benny Snell with 111 followed by Kalen Ballage with 91 between the New York Jets and Los Angeles Chargers.

Anthony McFarland saw limited action in his 11 games with the Steelers in 2020 as a rookie and only had 33 carries. Jaylen Samuels only had nine rushing attempts on the season even though he had over 120 offensive snaps. Trey Edmunds did not receive a carry in 2020 and only played seven snaps on offense for the Steelers in four games.

Although the Steelers roster is made up of a first-round draft pick and five players with NFL experience, the most running backs the Steelers would possibly keep for 2021 is most likely four. Where all the players fall exactly on the depth chart will be determined throughout training camp and the 2021 preseason.

Steelers players took to social media with excitement over Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 8:00am
Via: Twitter/@Steelers

Nobody was as excited about Najee Harris as the members of the Steelers roster

The moment Roger Goodell read out the Steelers first round draft choice, many members of the Pittsburgh Steelers roster took to social media to. share their excitement. Beyond that even members of rival team were excited for the Alabama running back. Here are some of the best reactions from Steelers players, and others, on their reaction to the Steelers selecting Najee Harris.

The former Alabama guys:

MY DAWG @ohthatsNajee22

— Minkah Fitzpatrick (@minkfitz_21) April 30, 2021

Yesssssiirrr https://t.co/tB9OB2oxgg

— Isaiah D. Buggs (@BigPooh_91) April 30, 2021

Some current Steelers, who once played for the Crimson Tide were very vocal about Najee Harris. Minkah Fitzpatrick was especially pumped as he called the pick about a month ago.

The Rest of the Gang:

YES SIR‼️ @ohthatsNajee22

— Eric Ebron (@Ebron85) April 30, 2021

Welcome to the FAM https://t.co/Vvqvq9m2FM

— Diontae Johnson (@Juiceup__3) April 30, 2021

Touchdown...

— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) April 30, 2021

Yesssssirrrrrrr!!!!!!!!

— Joe Haden (@joehaden23) April 30, 2021

A defenses best friend is a good running game! Man let’s go @ohthatsNajee22

— Cam Heyward (@CamHeyward) April 30, 2021

@ohthatsNajee22 congrats bro. I’ll see you at training camp for a one on one!!!

— stephon tuitt (@DOCnation_7) April 30, 2021

It didn't matter if you played on offense or defense, the Pittsburgh Steelers were all fired up for this pick. Given Najee Harris is known as a great locker room guy and outstanding on the field it is easy to see why the guys would be so excited.

Former Steelers:

Welcome to PITTSBURGH @ohthatsNajee22 ‼️ #HEREWEGO

— Willie Parker (@3williethadude9) April 30, 2021

@ohthatsNajee22 Najee, welcome to Pittsburgh! Running backs can make the difference.

— Franco Harris (@francoharrishof) April 30, 2021

Yesssss!!!!!!! Let’s go Najee Harris! Welcome to the ‘Burgh!!!!!

— Max Starks IV (@maxstarks78) April 30, 2021

Perfect pick for the Steelers Najee Harris

— Mike Wallace (@Wallace17_daKid) April 30, 2021

Lord, let Najee go to the #Steelers... pic.twitter.com/JDnA0St19X

— Nate Washington (@nwash85) April 30, 2021

The Steelers alumni even took to social media in support of the pick. From another famous ‘Harris’ to big play receivers it sounds like the Steelers drafted the guy that players desperately wanted.

The Rivals:

Why has nobody picked Najee now the Steelers get him smh

— Marlon Humphrey (@marlon_humphrey) April 30, 2021

AFC north easily got the best RB’s Mixon, Chubb, Hunt, Jk, Gus Bus, and now Najee

— Marlon Humphrey (@marlon_humphrey) April 30, 2021

Even Baltimore Ravens corner, Marlon Humphrey had to show his appreciation for the pick.

We know how the players feel about the pick, but what do you think of Najee Harris? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.

All you need to know about the Steelers’ top pick, Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 7:32am
Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Alabama RB Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. Here is all the coverage on their Day 1 pick.

The Pittsburgh Steelers made a bold, and strong, statement in the 2021 NFL Draft by selecting Alabama RB Najee Harris in the first round. With the 24th pick the Steelers took Harris without thinking about other prospects who might have been available when it was their turn to select, but this doesn’t seem to bother Mike Tomlin or Kevin Colbert.

Without looking ahead, the Steelers did something they’ve needed to do since Le’Veon Bell left the team in free agency. What they needed to do was none other than select a premiere running back. With Harris’ skill set on the roster, it immediately gives a boost to the Steelers’ dreadful 2020 running game. A running game which ranked dead last in both yards per game and yards per attempt. Even without addressing the offensive line, which they will likely do on Day 2 of the draft, the Steelers’ running game should be improved in 2021.

Harris was the first running back taken in the first round since the Steelers selected Rashard Mendenhall out of Illinois in the 2008 NFL Draft.

With that said, be sure to check out all of our coverage on the Alabama running back here in this stream, and be sure to check back so you don’t miss a thing on all of our draft coverage as the Pittsburgh Steelers continue to press on throughout Days 2 and 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Grading the Steelers first round selection of Najee Harris

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 7:30am
Photo by UA Athletics/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Alabama RB Najee Harris with the 24th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Good news, Steelers Nation. After being subjected to a mind numbing amount of mock drafts and plenty of unsubstantiated speculation during what seemed like an inordinately long pre-draft process, minus the Scouting Combine to break up the monotony, the 2021 NFL Draft is finally upon us. I have been given the distinguished task of trying to apply a letter grade to each Steelers selection.

There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal the validity of any grade given, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value. Draft value is achieved by evaluating each players actual selection against their projected draft position, whether that be player rankings or projected round.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected RB Najee Harris from the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide with the 24th selection of the 2021 NFL Draft. The pick came as no real surprise to any Steelers fan who has been paying attention during the pre-draft process. GM Kevin Colbert and HC Mike Tomlin never even tried to hide the fact they were enamored with the bruising young back. The Steelers have paid lip service to their desire to improve their steadily declining rushing attack over the past few years, but after hitting rock bottom by finishing dead last in the league in that department last season the Steelers are finally putting their money where their mouth is with this pick. There is no where to go but up.

Harris is a punishing power back that stands 6'2" and weighs 230 lbs. He is a well rounded back that never has to leave the field because he possesses excellent hands and receiving skills. He is also a willing and able pass protector. Although he handled the football early and often throughout his collegiate career, he has tremendous ball security and rarely ever fumbles the rock. He has solid athleticism, but lacks the extra gear necessary for breakaway runs. He still breaks longer runs on occasion thanks to the best stiff arm in this draft class and some nice high hurdle abilities in the open field.

I give the Steelers first round selection of Najee Harris an initial draft grade of A.

There are multiple reasons why I have arrived at that conclusion. The Steelers obviously had a plan coming into the draft, and they didn't deviate from that plan. Colbert referenced the unusually deep center class this year, which is a huge area of need for the Steelers as they strive to rebuild their offensive line and improve their rushing attack. The running back class was nowhere near as deep, considered top heavy with the Big Three. The Steelers weren't willing to gamble that one of the three would still be there when their next selection rolled around.

The Steelers are getting an outstanding young man of character by all accounts. Harris is a high effort kind of runner, always striving for extra yards rather than running out of bounds in a act of self preservation. He is renowned as an exemplary teammate, and displayed his team first mentality and determination by driving all night to attend Alabama's initial pro day after his flight was cancelled. That would be impressive in it's own right, but even more so when you realize he wasn't even scheduled to participate in any workouts that day. He just wanted to show support for his teammates who were. That is the type of behavior reserved for a champion, a trait no doubt learned from his time with the Crimson Tide.

Harris, like so many draft prospects, had to overcome a tough upbringing to get to where he is now. He realizes his potential impact and influence in the community, and has already started giving back. He helped organize a pre-draft party at a homeless shelter he had to frequent as a youth with his family. His maturity will fit perfectly with the Steelers culture.

A lot of national pundits are already comparing Harris to Le’Veon Bell because of his three down abilities and versatility, but I think another former Steelers rusher is a far better comparison: Franco Harris. Franco was a upright runner with superior length and power who excelled running between the tackles. Like Franco, Najee seems to take his performance up a notch when the pressure is the highest. Franco even campaigned for the Steelers to select Najee, believing he would help improve the running game. I concur.

Najee Harris was the top rated running back on many draft boards, and he is a plug and play starter for the Steelers the moment he arrives at the facilities. He instantly improves the Steelers stable of running backs, allowing each to focus on their particular skill set. Not only does Harris fill a huge need for the Steelers offense, he also serves as another example of the Steelers commitment to a rather obvious change in philosophy on the offensive side of the ball.

Now we want to hear from the BTSC community and from Steelers Nation. What do you think about the Najee Harris selection and what initial grade would you give it. Please place your vote in the attached poll and share your reasoning in the comment section below.

I am pleased to welcome Najee Harris to the Steelers family on behalf of the BTSC staff and community. Go Steelers!

2021 NFL Draft: BTSC Big Board, Top 50 heading into Day 2

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 6:30am
Joshua L. Jones via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Looking at the best of the rest heading into the second day of the 2021 NFL Draft.

The first round of the 2021 NFL Draft is over, with the Steelers selecting Najee Harris out of Alabama with the 24th pick overall.

Here’s my Big Board breakdown of Harris:

24. Najee Harris — RB — Alabama
#22, Senior, 6’ 2”, 230 lbs
2020 season stats: 1,466 rushing yards, 26 rushing touchdowns, 5.8 yards per carry (YPC), 43 receptions, 425 receiving yards, 4 receiving touchdowns.

Ryland B.: Considered a top recruit coming out of high school, Najee Harris underwhelmed in his first few years at Alabama, but slowly improved each season to become the best running back in his draft class by his senior year. Harris has the size of a NFL running back, but he also has the power and athleticism to succeed at the next level. He is a patient runner with good vision, and can consistently make something out of nothing if the play breaks down. He ends runs with power, and is hard to bring down once he gets going, even unleashing an impressive hurdling ability at times. He isn’t the fastest, but has enough speed and burst to succeed at the NFL level — although he won’t be a home-run hitter. As a receiver, Harris showed some good hands and yards after catch ability in 2020. If there’s one concern, it’s mileage, as Harris had over 800 touches during his 4 years at Alabama. He hasn’t shown any durability concerns, but it’s certainly something to be aware of due to the short shelf life on NFL running backs. Overall, Harris is the most complete and NFL-ready back in the draft class, having shown athleticism, talent, and production over his successful college career.

But there are still six more rounds to go, and a lot of impactful picks to be made. Below, I’ve listed the top 50 players still remaining heading into the next day of the draft. The rankings are based off of Andrew Wilbar’s top 300, with the analysis and stats being from the BTSC Big Board. I’ve also added some “draft notes” to go along with the prospect analysis with some more up to date opinions on how the draft is falling.

And as always, the consensus rankings are from big boards from CBS Sports, Drafttek, ESPN, Mock Draft Database, and Tankathon.

Let’s take a look at the best players remaining in this year’s draft:

14. Azeez Ojulari — EDGE — Georgia
#13, So, 6’3”, 240 lbs
Consensus ranking: 39 (58, 30, 58, 22, 25)
2020 season stats: Tackles 31, TFL 12.5, Sacks 9.5, PD 2, FF 4, FR 1 (10 games)

Itz JustNoah: Ojulari has great athleticism and technique. He uses his hands well, he’s quick and he’s got a great bend that helps him stay upright. He has average size for an edge rusher so he could use a bit more strength but his speed off the line has helped him be successful without the ideal size. His major flaw comes as a run defender. When he’s forced outside and has to set the edge, he doesn’t have his burst off the line so he isn’t able to get by blockers. He’s not polished, but he’s got a high ceiling that makes him well worthy of being taken in the first round. He excelled in Kirby Smart’s 3-4 defense at Georgia and I think that’s where he will fit best in the NFL.

Draft notes: Ojulari is a fantastic pass-rusher, but it seems like NFL teams had others ranked even higher on their boards. Payton Turner, Gregory Rousseau, Jayson Oweh, and Joe Tryon all went ahead of the Georgia product.

18. Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah — LB — Notre Dame
#6, Sr, 6’1”, 215 lbs
Consensus ranking: 21 (23, 29, 14, 19, 18)
2020 season stats: Tackles 62, TFL 11, Sacks 1.5, FF 3, FR 2, PD 3, Int 1, (12 games)

steelerfan11: While not the biggest linebacker in the world, Owusu-Koramoah has serious range in coverage and outstanding versatility. His lack of size occasionally bites him when trying to tackle a well-built running back or tight end, but the burst he displays when rushing the passer makes up for it. His versatility also allows him to play safety in certain packages, and he has had no trouble covering receivers and tight ends out of the slot. Adding some weight would only help him, but he will be a valuable piece for a defense that can use his versatility correctly.

Draft notes: Perhaps the biggest name to fall out of the first round, it seems as if NFL teams are concerned with JOK’s size. He’ll likely go early in the second round due to his athleticism and coverage ability — but if he falls to #55 the Steelers will likely be interested.

21. Joseph Ossai — EDGE — Texas
#46, Jr, 6’4”, 253 lbs
Consensus ranking: 34 (34, 36, 29, 38, 34)
2020 season stats: (0 games)
2019 season stats: Tackles 90, 14.5 TFL, 6 Sacks , Int 2, PD 3, FF 2 (13 games)

Itz JustNoah: I absolutely love Ossai. He has pretty much everything you want in a 3-4 OLB. He’s very quick off the line, his balance is phenomenal, he uses his hands extremely well and he has a wide range of pass rush moves. The stats may not show it but he is almost always in the backfield whether it be a run or a pass. Unlike a lot of the other edge rushers in this class, Ossai is very versatile. He can easily drop back into zone coverage or even play man against some tight ends or running backs, so he is the perfect 3-4 edge. I see a lot of TJ Watt in him because of his quickness, balance and his knack for creating turnovers. I’ve seen him fall out of the first round in some mocks but I think that any team that uses a 3-4 should take him before any other edge rusher.

Draft notes: Ossai is a versatile defender who is a perfect fit for the Steelers system. Earlier in the draft process BTSC writer KT Smith broke down how he could be a great second round pick for the team HERE.

22. Samuel Cosmi — OT — Texas
Jr, #52, 6’7”, 309 lbs
Consensus ranking: 43 (32, 24, 84, 25, 28)
2020 season stats: (8 games)

steelerfan11: Cosmi is not a sure thing at tackle, but I liked what I saw from him in both 2019 and 2020 when he was at left tackle. Generally, raw tackles will start out at right tackle if they play at all their rookie season, but I think Cosmi’s natural fit is on the left side. He depends on his superb athleticism too often, but all of Cosmi’s technical issues are fixable. When he leaves his chest exposed and a defender can land a punch, he loses balance but can usually save himself with his length. His kick-slide needs to become smoother, but that will come with improved footwork and hip angles. His pad level also needs to be lower on a more consistent basis, but that got much better in 2020. Cosmi does a good job of getting to the second level of the defense as a run-blocker, and he has the length and mobility to be a dominant pass blocker. If he can add a good 15 pounds to his frame, he could develop into one of the top blindside protectors in the game.

Draft notes: Cosmi is the best remaining tackle on the board, and the Steelers definitely have a need at the position. Cosmi is raw, but is a good fit at LT with tremendous upside.

23. Pat Freiermuth — TE — Penn State
#87, Jr, 6’5”, 250 lbs
Consensus ranking: 39 (26, 47, 41, 39, 41)
2020 season stats: 23 receptions, 310 receiving yards, 1 receiving TD’s, (4 games)

steelerfan11: Freiermuth is one of my favorite prospects in this class because of his style of play. Every year people try to compare the top tight ends in the class to Rob Gronkowski, but I actually find it fair to compare Freiermuth to him. I expect Freiermuth to get closer to the 260 pound range once he is in the NFL, helping him hold up against stronger NFL athletes. He does a good job of boxing out defenders and getting in good position to make catches, and he has the soft hands that you want in a tight end. I realize that he is still very raw and undeveloped as a blocker, but I believe that he is fully capable of becoming one of the top blocking tight ends in the league. It just may not come in year one. If he has fully recovered from that shoulder injury that ended his 2020 season early, he will be able to contribute immediately as a legitimate red zone threat. They say that a good blocking tight end is an extension of the offensive line, so if the value does not present itself at center or tackle, maybe the Steelers would consider the local tight end instead.

27. Christian Barmore — DL — Alabama
#58, So, 6’5”, 310 lbs
Consensus ranking: 29 (26, 49, 30, 21, 20)
2020 season stats: Tackles 37, TFL 9.5, Sacks 8, FF 3, PD 5, (12 games)

Itz JustNoah: Barmore has great size even for his position. He has all the right technique that you want from an interior lineman. His strong upper body helps him get in the backfield with ease and he has plenty of strength to help against the run. He’s much more refined than Nixon and I think that a team like the Raiders or possibly the Vikings that are ready to compete now and need a defensive tackle would work best. He can fit in a 3-4 and a 4-3 as long as he plays on the interior. I would not be opposed to the Steelers taking him to add some youth to the defense but the offensive line is definitely a bigger need if the top tier guys are still there.

28. Kelvin Joseph — CB — Kentucky
#1, Jr, 6’1”, 192 lbs
Consensus ranking: 73 (NA, 111, 46, 69, 66)
2020 season stats: Tackles 25, TFL .5, PD 5, Int 4, (9 games)

Ryland B.: A smart, fluid mover in zone, Joseph had a sneaky solid season in 2020 for Kentucky. I watched his tape against Alabama, and he more than held his own against DeVonta Smith, who was the best receiver and route runner in college football last year. Joseph’s not the quickest, but he still has a good athletic profile to match up with NFL receivers. Joseph’s tackling is by far the worst part of his game, but overall he’s a corner with the instincts and athletic ability to succeed in the NFL.

Draft notes: The Steelers have an underrated need at corner. Joseph is great at zone and could likely play on both the outside and in the slot.

29. Nico Collins — WR — Michigan
#1, Sr., 6’4” 215 lbs
Consensus ranking: 125 (138, 157, 43, 161, NA)
2020 season stats: Opted out
2019 season stats: 37 receptions, 729 receiving yards, 7 receiving TD

steelerfan11: Collins opted out of the 2020 season for Michigan, and his absence was quite evident. Collins did not have a great quarterback throwing him the ball during his time in Ann Arbor, but he bailed Shea Patterson out many times down the field in 2019. For a guy at that size, he actually runs decent routes and gets in and out of his cuts pretty quickly. His ball skills are tremendous, and he has good speed. If he would have had good quarterback play last year and decided to play this season, we may be talking about him as a top 15-20 pick. I still think that he is deserving of first round consideration simply based off on talent, but it is likely that he falls to day two.

30. Trey Smith — G — Tennessee
Sr, #73, 6’6”, 330 lbs
Consensus ranking: 47 (28, 39, 70, 48, 50)
2020 season stats: (10 games)

steelerfan11: Smith played left tackle in 2017 for the Volunteers before having issues with blood clots in his lungs in 2018. The former five-star recruit was able to get the issue resolved in time to play in 2019, but he moved inside to guard, which turned out to be the right move. Smith was much more dominant at guard and became one of the best run-blocking guards in the country while holding his own as a pass protector. In 2020, he was not quite as quick on his feet, and he struggled to win the battle for leverage. However, I like his game as a whole, and I believe he has a chance to be an absolutely dominant run-blocking guard.

31. Rondale Moore — WR — Purdue
#4, So., 5’9” 180 lbs
Consensus ranking: 32 (17, 20, 58, 29, 34)
2020 season stats: 35 receptions, 270 receiving yards, 0 receiving TD (3 games)

Ryland B.: Rondale Moore is an interesting prospect, as most of his first-round hype is based off of his incredible freshman season — back in 2018. That year Moore had over 100 catches and 1,200 yards to go along with his 12 touchdowns, making him a surefire first round pick when he would eventually enter the draft. However, a torn ACL at the beginning of his sophomore campaign didn’t help his draft plans, and then a decision to opt-out of the 2020 season due to COVID-19 concerns essentially made Moore a one-year wonder. But when he’s on the field, there is a lot to like about his game. Moore is very fast and elusive, and is a monster after the catch. There are some concerns about his smaller frame, as Moore isn’t suited for contested catches and struggles against physical corners, although he has good hands. Moore is a boom-or-bust prospect entering this year’s draft, but if he can be the player he was in 2018, the team that drafted him will be quite happy that they did so.

32. Creed Humphrey — C — Oklahoma
Jr, #56, 6’5”, 320 lbs
Consensus ranking: 58 (96, 40, 51, 44, 61)
2020 season stats: (11 games)

Ryland B.: There were questions about Creed Humphrey’s athleticism entering the 2021 draft cycle, but he silenced the doubters with a 10/10 RAS score in 2021, making him one of the most athletic centers ever tested. But his technique is just as impressive. A former wrestler, he plays with good functional strength and excellent leverage. He’s a proven leader with a great football IQ as well. Being left-handed might cause some issues, but that shouldn’t drop him on many boards (could it raise him on Miami’s?). Humphrey has really cemented himself as the top center in this class, and could hear his name called early on in the second round.

Draft Notes: The Steelers desperately need a center, and if Humphrey falls to #55 it would be a home-run draft in the first two rounds for the Steelers.

33. Aaron Robinson — CB — UCF
#31, Sr, 5’11”, 193 lbs
Consensus ranking: 76 (NA, 108, 64, 68, 63)
2020 season stats: Tackles 41, TFL 1, FF 1, PD 7, Int 0, (9 games)

steelerfan11: Robinson is yet another scheme versatile corner who does his best work in man coverage. The dude is just a baller no matter where he is lined up. He can reroute receivers at the line when he is lined up on the perimeter, and he has the quickness and agility to cover receivers coming out of the slot. While he is not the biggest corner in the world, he has good functional strength and seems to be well-built. Robinson actually transferred from Alabama, and I cannot help but wonder what his draft stock would be if he would have stayed. Now, he may not have seen the opportunities he wanted at Alabama, but his tape this season would have made him a surefire first round pick if his production came at Alabama instead of UCF.

34. Javonte Williams —RB — North Carolina
#25, Junior, 5’ 10”, 220 lbs
2020 season stats: 1,140 rushing yards, 19 rushing touchdowns, 7.3 YPC, 25 receptions, 305 receiving yards, 3 receiving touchdowns

Ryland B.: I’ve seen some debates online over the past month or so arguing that Williams is the second-best running back in this class over Travis Etienne — and while I’m not ready to go that far yet, Williams’ incredible 2020 season certainly puts him in the discussion. He’s a running back that screams “Pittsburgh Steeler”, as he’s an underclassmen, runs with power and an attitude, and produced well in college. If he gets a good SPARQ score you might as well pencil him in as the Steelers’ second round pick. In a way, I see Javonte Williams as Benny Snell 2.0, someone with the powerful rushing style and contact balance the Steelers liked in Snell, but paired with good speed and burst to make him a complete back, something that Snell certainly lacks. Williams isn’t the fastest in this class, but he’s an excellent power back with enough speed to be a starter in the NFL. He’s definitely someone to keep an eye on as the draft gets nearer.

37. Asante Samuel, Jr. — CB — Florida State
#26, Jr, 5’10”, 184 lbs
Consensus ranking: 36 (26, 24, 45, 44, 42)
2020 season stats: Tackles 31, TFL 1, FF 1, FR 2, PD 6, Int 3, (8 games)

Necksnation: The son of a four-time Pro Bowler, Asante Samuel Jr. has been rising on draft boards and has the potential to be a high quality starter in the NFL. Samuel is best in man, and he defends the run well. Although he’s somewhat undersized, Samuel projects as an outside corner in the NFL who can also play in the slot. Samuel doesn’t have great ball skills, but he did register three interceptions in 2020, so he seems to be improving in that regard. The Steelers have reportedly met with Samuel, but I wouldn’t want him selected in the first two rounds.

Draft notes: Samuel is someone who many saw as a sleeper first round pick for the Steelers. He certainly seems like someone the team would be interested in, and could be a fit at #55 if he lasts that long.

39. Walker Little — OT — Stanford
#72, Sr, 6’7”, 313 lbs
Consensus ranking: 88 (120, 87, 85, 81, 66)
2020 season stats: (0 games)
2019 season stats: (1 games)

steelerfan11: Before Walker Little opted out of the 2020 season, I thought that he had a chance of being a top 15 pick. He has all the traits that you want in a blindside pass-blocker. The former five-star recruit was a very fluid mover, and his ability to mirror well in pass protection made him look the part of a franchise tackle. Hand usage was good, and he was very good instinctively. The only problem is that we have not seen him play in two years. Little had a knee injury at the beginning of the 2019 season and then opted out this season. I really would like to see how well he moves and performs post-injury, and that will be difficult to do considering that there is not a combine to evaluate him at either. I absolutely love the upside that Little brings, and he could be the steal of the draft, but he is anything but a sure thing. I must say that the more I watch of him from 2018, the more I would welcome the idea of the Steelers grabbing him if he is available on day two.

40. Davis Mills — QB — Stanford
#15, Sr, 6’4”, 225 lbs
Consensus ranking: 107 (62, 185, NA, 99, 80)
2020 season stats: 1,508 passing yards, 7 passing touchdowns, 3 interceptions, 37 rushing yards, 3 rushing touchdowns (5 games)

steelerfan11: Mills was getting absolutely no hype two months ago, but people have begun to take notice of his talent. Mills shocked scouts when he ran a 4.58 in the 40 at his pro day, but what was more impressive was the accuracy he displayed in the rain, especially on deep throws. There were several games where Mills turned the ball over a lot, but he did not let the turnovers phase him. He generally came up clutch when his team needed a big play, and he showed good poise in the pocket for a quarterback who is inexperienced. He only started 11 games at the collegiate level, but the upside is a high-level NFL passer who can occasionally make plays with his feet. He has a very good chance of being taken inside the top 50 picks.

41. Daviyon Nixon — DL — Iowa
#54, So, 6’3”, 305 lbs
Consensus ranking: 43 (NA, 27, 61, 42, 43)
2020 season stats: Tackles 45, TFL 13.5, Sacks 5.5, FF 1, (8 games)

Itz JustNoah: In a relatively weak class for defensive lineman, Nixon is a bright spot. He’s not completely pro ready but he shows plenty of potential. He has excellent hands and athletic ability. Despite having 5.5 sacks (which is not bad for an interior lineman) he didn’t overly impress me as a pass rusher but his power as a run stopper is incredible. He has the ideal size and physical tools to be a starting defensive tackle, he just has to learn proper technique as a pass rusher to be really successful. I don’t think he’s a first round talent yet, but if a team wants to take a chance on him the upside is high.

42. Elijah Moore — WR — Ole Miss
#8, Jr., 5’9”, 184 lbs
Consensus ranking: 54 (NA, 56, 36, 68, 54)
2020 season stats: 86 receptions, 1193 receiving yards, 8 receiving TD (8 games)

Ryland B.: I hadn’t watched Elijah Moore at all until looking at film for this board, but I came away very impressed. He’s very quick and has solid speed, and runs crisp routes. He was very productive in college as well, and although he ran a lot of short routes, mainly bubble screens and curls, he was really successful when he got the chance to run vertically. I think he’ll translate quite well into the NFL as a starting slot receiver.

43. Carlos Basham — EDGE — Wake Forest
#9, Sr, 6’5”, 285 lbs
Consensus ranking: 50 (56, 62, 41, 48, 42)
2020 season stats: Tackles 28, TFL 5.5, Sacks 5, PD 1, FF 1 (7 games)

Ryland B.: Basham is a powerful edge rusher who has more of a clear fit as a 4-3 defensive end than anyone I’ve profiled so far for this board. He’s not a bad athlete per se, but he lacks the pure agility and bend of some of the others on this list, and his array of pass-rush moves isn’t the strongest. Still, Basham has good strength, plays with good discipline, and has a solid all-around game. He may not be an overly dynamic athlete, but Basham still made his impact at Wake Forest with some big plays. Hell be a good second round pick as he can start right away but probably not a great fit in Pittsburgh.

45. Trevon Moehrig — S — TCU
#7, Jr, 6’2”, 202 lbs
Consensus ranking: 23 (25, 17, 15, 30, 28)
2020 season stats: Tackles 47, Sacks 0, Int 2, PD 11, FF 0, FR 0, (10 games)

steelerfan11: Moehrig is the best safety in this class, but not by much. He has some versatility, but he will most likely settle in as a free safety in the NFL. His physicality is what I like most about him. He does not shy away from contact and isn’t afraid to hit hard. He has solid ball skills and good instincts, but his tackling is inconsistent. It seems as if sometimes he will go for the big blow rather than simply wrapping up the ball carrier. Moehrig will likely be a starting free safety in the NFL, but I would not take him until day two.

46. Tyson Campbell — CB — Georgia
#3, Jr, 6’2”, 185 lbs
Consensus ranking: 48 (31, 47, 55, 54, 52)
2020 season stats: Tackles 29, TFL 2.5, PD 6, Int 1, (10 games)

Ryland B.: Campbell is a good athlete who is still figuring out the corner position. He has good size and is physical in man coverage, with the speed to match up with top receivers. He’s a smooth mover with good quickness and he flips his hips well, but he can be a slow processor and still end up a step behind receivers. Campbell is an incredibly raw corner with all of the tools to succeed, but he will need to be developed by whichever NFL team drafts him.

48. Jabril Cox — LB — LSU
#19, Sr, 6’4”, 231 lbs
Consensus ranking: 62 (85, 54, 39, 60, 71)
2020 season stats: Tackles 58, TFL 6.5, Sacks 1, FF 0, FR 1, Int 3, (11 games)

Ryland B.: Cox is quickly becoming one of my favorite linebackers in this draft. He’s built nearly the same as Jamin Davis, and similarly is an excellent athlete who is rock solid in coverage. He has the same big play gene as the Kentucky linebacker as well. But where Davis struggles in navigating traffic, Cox is a heat-seeking missile. He flies across the field and through contact to make tackles, and while he’s still developing as a run defender, he shows all of the required tools and effort. He’ll be excellent value in the second or third round.

Draft notes: Besides JOK, Cox is my favorite linebacker remaining. And the Steelers love to draft linebackers. Cox could be an playmaking defender to pair next to Devin Bush in 2021.

49. Landon Dickerson — C — Alabama
Sr, #69, 6’6’’, 325 lbs
Consensus ranking: 67 (76, 59, 93, 56, 52)
2020 season stats: (12 games)

Ryland B.: If it wasn’t for Dickerson’s extensive injury history, I’d have a much higher grade on him. Dickerson is a technically sound, smart center with good size and strength who plays very aggressively. He’s a proven winner and leader as well. His strength and physicality shine in his run blocking, and he is good in pass protection thanks to his football IQ and technical ability. Besides the injuries, Dickerson’s weaknesses involve his overall athleticism, as it isn’t bad but far from elite, and he isn’t the most mobile. He’s a strong player though and shined at the SEC level, so there isn’t a whole lot to worry about there. If Dickerson can stay healthy he’ll be a very good NFL center. If you’re interested in reading more in-depth analysis on him, check out K.T. Smith’s extensive breakdown on Dickerson HERE.

Draft notes: Creed Humphrey is a fantastic center, but if it wasn’t for Dickerson’s many injury issues he would be in the same conversation. If the Steelers are confident that he can hold up at the NFL level, they could definitely bring him into Pittsburgh to block for his Alabama teammate Najee Harris.

50. Richie Grant — S — UCF
#27, Sr, 6’0”, 199 lbs
Consensus ranking: 84 (NA, 28, 186, 56, 66)
2020 season stats: Tackles 72, Sacks 1, Int 3, PD 0, FF 2, FR 2, (9 games)

Ryland B.: Grant is a top-tier coverage safety who really stood out in the Senior Bowl. He’s quick and instinctive in coverage with excellent ball skills. As a free safety his play recognition and range isn’t the greatest, but far from a concern. He isn’t the biggest, but still plays very physically and is a surprisingly good tackler. Grant projects best as a safety in the NFL, but he was fairly versatile in college, and I think that in the right scheme he could be a solid slot cornerback.

Draft notes: An underrated option to replace Mike Hilton here.

52. Dillon Radunz — OT — North Dakota State
Sr, #75, 6’6’’, 299 lbs
Consensus ranking: 64 (67, 84, 56, 57, 55)
2020 season stats: (1 games)
2019 season stats: (16 games)

Ryland B.: Radunz has flown under the radar for a while, but began to pop up on draft radar as his teammate Trey Lance began to get more hype — and Radunz showed up on the tape. He’s not a freak athlete like Cosmi or Darrisaw, but he’s still a fairly good one with good mobility and strength. He’s a little undersized for the position, an issue I think will pop up more in the NFL than it did at the FCS level. I think he has the frame to bulk up, though. He’s solid in pass protection but shined best in run blocking, showing excellent power and drive. Radunz had a strong Senior Bowl and showed the versatility to play at guard as well. Radunz’s smaller size and school are legitimate concerns, but as for now the NDSU linemen has established himself as a fringe first round candidate at offensive tackle.

53. Amon-Ra St. Brown — WR — USC
#8, Jr., 6’1” 195 lbs
Consensus ranking: 62 (58, 68, NA, 61, 60)
2020 season stats: 41 receptions, 478 receiving yards, 7 receiving TD (6 games)

steelerfan11: St. Brown has the bloodlines and the talent that warrant a first round selection, and he has a skill set to complement that. He is very quick and clean in and out of his cuts, he runs decent routes, has good body control and sideline awareness, has solid speed, and displays reliable hands week in and week out. Former USC receiver Juju Smith-Schuster is a reasonable comparison here as well, but I honestly think St. Brown’s game is a little more complete and a little better in terms of overall upside. While he isn’t dominant in any one area, he is very good in almost every category. If he isn’t a WR1 for some team, he will most certainly be one of the best #2 receivers in the league. He is a high floor prospect with a reasonably high ceiling.

55. Terrace Marshall — WR — LSU
#6, Jr., 6’3”, 200 lbs
Consensus ranking: 41 (65, 35, 35, 36, 35)
2020 season stats: 48 receptions, 731 receiving yards, 10 receiving TD (7 games)

Ryland B.: Part of a highly productive LSU offense in 2019, Marshall still managed to shine despite being in the same wide receiver room as Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase. Both Jefferson and Chase didn’t play in 2020, and Marshall was able to capitalize on the opportunity, putting up good numbers before opting out part way through the season. Marshall has really great size and good vertical speed and ball skills, although his hands aren’t the most consistent. Marshall is a good route-runner as well, although there is room to grow regarding his quickness and agility. Having been overlooked early on in his career due to the talented offense he played on, Marshall could be steal in the upcoming draft.

56. Teven Jenkins — OT — Oklahoma State
Sr, #73, 6’6’’, 320 lbs
Consensus ranking: 61 (109, 96, 33, 37, 32)
2020 season stats: (12 games)

Ryland B.: Jenkins is a powerful run-blocker at the tackle position who is still improving at the pass-blocking aspect of his position. I wasn’t all that impressed at first but he grew on me the more I watched. Jenkins really has that mauler mentality and plays with great power and drive. Put a guy in front of him and Jenkins will move him out of the way. This overaggressive style of play can get Jenkins in trouble at times, especially when paired with his lack of athleticism and technique. Overall I like Jenkins, as tough, aggressive linemen are something the Steelers really need more of on their roster. Still, there are a lot of issues that are hard to ignore, and Jenkins certainly needs to develop.

Draft notes: If the Steelers are all-in on improving their run game in 2021, Jenkins is the tackle to draft. However, his fit is definitely on the right side, and the Steelers have a bigger need at LT.

57. Jevon Holland — S/CB — Oregon
#8, Jr, 6’1”, 201 lbs
Consensus ranking: 57 (52, 59, 59, 54, 61)
2020 season stats: (0 games)
2019 season stats: Tackles 66, Sacks 0, Int 4, PD 4, FF 0, FR 0, (14 games)

steelerfan11: Holland has the best versatility of any safety in this class. He can play both safety spots as well as nickel cornerback, and I expect the team that drafts him to use him sporadically at each of those positions. Holland opted out of the 2020 season, but he was the leader of the Oregon defense in 2019, accounting for four interceptions and over sixty tackles. Holland has ideal speed and length to excel in man coverage, and he did exactly that in college. He has loose hips and moves fluidly when dropping into zone, but there are a few instances where he would drop too deep or not deep enough. He became much more consistent in 2019 in that department while still displaying his athletic traits and versatility. He was projected to be a top 15 pick before opting out, but his stock has fallen to a probable day two pick. He could be one of the true steals of the draft if he is still on the board after the top 50 picks.

58. Patrick Jones — EDGE — Pittsburgh
#91, Sr, 6’5”, 260 lbs
Consensus ranking: 55 (31, 67, 49, 67, 60)
2020 season stats: Tackles 44, TFL 13, Sacks 9 (11 games)

Ryland B.: Jones is an athletic pass-rusher with an insanely quick first step. He has solid size, and while he’s still a little raw overall there aren’t any major concerns when rushing the passer or defending the run. As a 4-3 defensive end, Jones is a very solid prospect who will just need some time to grow into his role in the NFL. However, as a 3-4 outside linebacker, a position Jones would play in the Steelers’s system (an actual possibility as the team met with him at the Senior Bowl), there would be a lot more to work on. Jones has the ideal size and athletic profile but is severely lacking when it comes to anything besides rushing the passer from a defensive end stance.

60. Wyatt Davis — G — Ohio State
Jr, #52, 6’4”, 315 lbs
Consensus ranking: 33 (NA, NA, NA, 29, 37)
2020 season stats: (8 games)

Ryland B.: There’s a lot to like about Wyatt Davis. He’s a powerful, athletic guard who has been a starter for a while on one of the better lines in college football. He’s a mauler who can move defenders in the run game, and he’s pretty solid in pass protection. Davis isn’t the most polished player at his position, as he can get pushed back sometimes and can struggle staying on a block. However, he’s an experienced, high-upside prospect overall who is still a safe pick in the early rounds.

61. Quinn Meinerz — C/G — UW-Whitewater
Sr, #77, 6’3”, 320 lbs
Consensus ranking: 157 (NA, 130, 176, 165, NA)
2020 season stats: (0 games)
2019 season stats: (15 games)

steelerfan11: Meinerz played his entire collegiate career at guard until his senior season. After an offseason of, well, interesting training, he made the move to center and played at a really high level for Wisconsin-Whitewater. He was still somewhat of an unknown commodity up until a few weeks ago when he shined at the Senior Bowl. He consistently won in one-on-one drills and showed his toughness and attitude as a blocker. His personality, style of play, and hair all make Ryan Jensen a logical comparison. I’m not saying that he will become one of the top two or three centers in football and go on to win a super bowl like Jensen, but he does not seem to be as raw a prospect as the initial scouting reports were saying. The NFL is quite a leap from Division III college football, but Meinerz has the toughness and moxie to be a really good interior lineman down the road.

Draft notes: The small school standout looked great at UW-Whitewater, but will it translate to the NFL? Meinerz is a fantastic prospect but Humphrey and Dickerson have more experience at center and against better competition. If both are gone at #55 and the Steelers need their center, Meirnerz is still a viable option in the second or third.

62. Liam Eichenberg — OT, — Notre Dame
Sr, #74, 6’6”, 302 lbs
Consensus ranking: 63 (105, 77, 46, 45, 43)
2020 season stats: (12 games)

Ryland B.: The highest rated member of a very good Notre Dame offensive line last year, Eichenberg has been projected all the way from the first to the third round in some mock drafts. A very good run blocker, Eichenberg plays tough while showing decent strength. In pass protection, his lack of athleticism shows, but he is still solid overall. Speed rushers give him fits though and cause him to lunge too often. Eichenberg is a good high floor/low ceiling prospect who will probably be a starter at the NFL level, although I’m not sure if he has Pro Bowl potential.

63. Shaun Wade — CB/S — Ohio State
#24, Jr, 6’1”, 195 lbs
Consensus ranking: 100 (144, 66, 108, 98, 86)
2020 season stats: Tackles 35, TFL 1, PD 1, Int 2, (8 games)

steelerfan11: Wade had a fantastic year in 2019 when Jeff Okudah and Damon Arnette were manning the outside, but Wade struggled mightily when he was asked to be a boundary corner in 2020. Wade made a few decent plays, but he struggled for the most part. However, literally whenever Ohio State moved him to the slot for a few plays, he was his old self and was blanketing receivers. Ty Fryfogle of Indiana absolutely torched Wade all day when he was playing on the outside, but on the few occasions he was put in the slot, he did well against Whop Philyor and the other Indiana receivers. As a prospect, I like Wade’s athleticism and upside, and I think the 2020 season was just a fluke. Some think that he will move to safety, but I honestly think playing the nickel is what he does best. If he can be an inside-only corner for a team, he could be a potential pro-bowler down the line.

64. Trey Hill — C/G — Georgia
Jr, #55, 6’4”, 330 lbs
Consensus ranking: 113 (148, 123, NA, 88, 91)
2020 season stats: (8 games)

steelerfan11: If you ever read my comments about my hopes for the Steelers this offseason, Trey Hill has probably been mentioned at some point in time. Hill just turned 21 and still has a lot of room to grow as a prospect, but he could start from day one if the Steelers needed him to be. He gets good leverage, uses his hands well, and maintains a low pad level. He has excellent power and is an absolute mauler in the run game, and I believe his ability to get to the second level of the defense is way better than what your average scouting report on him will say. While he has sufficient mobility and has shown the ability to pull as either a center or guard, he isn’t super light on his feet. If he remains at center, he may want to drop a couple pounds, but I would love to see Hill next to Kevin Dotson on that offensive line. I believe that Hill is one of the most underrated players in this draft. If he is still there on day three, some team is getting an absolute steal.

65. D’Wayne Eskridge — WR — Western Michigan
#1, Sr., 5’9” 190 lbs
Consensus ranking: 109 (NA, 89, 105, 134, NA)
2020 season stats: 34 receptions, 784 receiving yards, 8 receiving TD (5 games)

Ryland B: Eskridge’s draft stock rose meteorically during the Senior Bowl, going from a mid-round grade to a viable late first-rounder to many. Despite playing at a lower level of competition, Eskridge showed he could put DB’s at any level on skates during his impressive string of practices at the all-star game. Eskridge runs very snappy routes, making sharp cuts, and showing off great acceleration — all while being one of the fastest receivers in this class. He’s a little small for an NFL wideout, but he still has good hands and toughness, along with a defensive background. He was a starting cornerback at Western Michigan for much of his time there, and played fairly well. Overall, there’s a lot to like about Eskridge’s game, and while a good Senior Bowl may have taken aways his status as a late-round gem, a deep wide receiver class could push him into the second round. He’s a MAC guy, too, which means the Steelers will definitely have him on their radar.

66. Tylan Wallace — WR — Oklahoma State
#2, Sr., 6’0”, 190 lbs
Consensus ranking: 53 (62, 50, 60, 72, 67)
2020 season stats: 59 receptions, 922 receiving yards, 6 receiving TD (13 games)

Ryland B.: Tylan Wallace has been consistently productive as a three-year starter at Oklahoma State, racking up nearly 3,500 receiving yards in his career as a contested-catch specialist. Wallace doesn’t have great size or speed, and his lanky frame limits his agility and quickness. However, he’s a good football player, period. Wallace has really great hands and tracks the ball well, and despite not being the biggest guy, he wins a lot of jump balls. He’s a scrappy, physical receiver who is an excellent blocker and tough to bring down after the catch, fighting hard for yardage every time. He also sells out for the ball when it’s in the air, fighting through the defender and contorting his body to find a way to make the catch. Wallace was an excellent college receiver, but his athletic profile may hinder his transition to the NFL.

67. Jalen Mayfield — OT — Michigan
So, #73, 6’5”, 320 lbs
Consensus ranking: 32 (29, 44, 26, 32, 29)
2020 season stats: (2 games)

steelerfan11: Another example of Ed Warriner’s excellent coaching, Mayfield was very raw when arriving at Michigan, losing frequently to quicker edge rushers that had a quicker first step than he had and getting overpowered by more powerful pass rushers. After several years under good coaching, Mayfield has taken amazing strides in his game and has become much more refined. He knows how to move defenders in the run game, and his strong lower body helps him anchor well. His footwork is somewhat slow and sloppy at times, and I would like to see him get out of his stance a bit quicker, but Mayfield has a high floor due to his versatility to play both tackle and guard. His ceiling will likely depend on whether he can slide over to the left side in the NFL.

68. Brady Christiansen — OT — BYU
Jr, #67, 6’6’’, 300 lbs
Consensus ranking: (137, 195, NA, 112, NA)
2020 season stats: (12 games)

Ryland B.: Trusted with protecting top quarterback prospect Zach Wilson at BYU, Christiansen was excellent as a pass protector. He’s a smart, physical player with decent size and strength. He’s also a good run blocker who plays powerfully and with good technique. Where Christiansen is lacking is in his athleticism, as he’s not that mobile and had some trouble with agile, athletic pass-rushers. He also went on a mission trip while in college which makes him older than most of the prospects in this draft, which might have aided in his college success, as well as taking away a couple years from his NFL career. It’s worth noting he’s pretty popular with the folks at PFF, but who knows how those grades will translate at the next level. Christiansen doesn’t have a very high ceiling, but his floor is high enough to be a solid starter early on in his NFL career.

69. Jackson Carman — OT/OG — Clemson
Jr, #79, 6’5”, 335 lbs
Consensus ranking: 62 (37, 71, NA, 66, 74)
2020 season stats: (12 games)

steelerfan11: Carman may have the highest upside of any tackle after Penei Sewell, but inconsistency has been the story of his collegiate career. Carman was playing at about 345 pounds at Clemson, which allowed him to be an absolute mauler in the run game. That size became a double-edged sword, however, as he was often unable to win battles against speedy edge rushers one-on-one. His first step is slower than what you would like in a blindside protector, and his pad level could use a little work in the run game. He has every tool you could ever want, but I really think he needs to drop 10-15 pounds if he is going to reach that potential at tackle. If not, I think that a move to guard at the next level is inevitable (Note: Carman weighed 317 pounds at his pro day. Sounds like he wants to stay at tackle).

70. Dylan Moses — LB — Alabama
#32, Sr, 6’3”, 240 lbs
Consensus ranking: 59 (76, 48, 54, 62, 53)
2020 season stats: Tackles 80, TFL 22, Sacks 6.5, FF 1, FR 0, PD 4, Int 1, (13 games)

Necksnation: Once considered a potential top 10 pick, an underwhelming 2020 caused Moses to plummet on draft boards. He is an above average tackler who is very athletic, although it isn’t always evident in his film. Moses’ awareness is a reason for concern. In the film I watched, he was frequently getting fooled by read options, and it sometimes looked like he didn’t know where the ball was. His coverage skills could also use some work, as he only registered two interceptions and four pass breakups in his three seasons at Alabama. However, if he can return to his 2018 form, Moses has the potential to be a quality starter for an NFL team.

72. Anthony Schwartz — WR — Auburn
#1, Jr., 6’0”, 179
Consensus ranking: 117 (141, 92, NA, 118, NA)
2020 season stats: 54 receptions, 636 receiving yards, 3 receiving TD (10 games)

steelerfan11: Schwartz is one of my favorite prospects in this entire class. There is fast, and then there is freakishly fast. Tyreek Hill fast. Schwartz honestly disappointed me with his 4.26 40 time at his pro day. Listed at only 179 pounds, Schwartz could probably afford to add ten pounds and not lose his world class speed. Schwartz has pretty good hands for a speed guy, and he is not afraid to work the middle of the field. He can line up on the outside or in the slot, although his best fit in the NFL will likely be the slot. I wish that he was a more willing blocker and had a little more shiftiness to his game, but the sky’s the limit for a guy with Schwartz’s speed.

73. Hunter Long — TE — Boston College
#80, Jr, 6’5”, 253 lbs
Consensus ranking: 90 (NA, 111, 49, 110, NA)
2020 season stats: 57 receptions, 685 receiving yards, 5 receiving TD’s, (11 games)

Ryland B.: Long was targeted a lot last year as a big part of Boston College’s offense, and responded well with some admirable production. He has good size and decent athleticism, although he lacks the athletic upside of some of the others in this class. As a receiver he has solid hands and speed, and while his routes aren’t anything special, they’re more than adequate for a man his size. Long is a great blocker, being both willing and effective, with good hand placement and drive. While Long is still above-average as a receiver, there are still some issues overall. He isn’t the most athletic and could have a tough time getting separation on the next level. His hands are good, but there are still some drops here and there, and while he made some tough catches, he failed to hold onto some passes you would expect a big, imposing tight end to come down with. He’s not much of a threat after the catch, either. Overall I’m not as big a fan of Long as some others are, but in a weak class he’s a solid third option. He could be a good #2 tight end for an NFL team, but I don’t think he has much starter upside.

Draft notes; Long is a decent prospect, but likely won’t be anything more than a #2 tight end. Is that worth a mid-round pick for a team with bigger needs?

74. Cameron McGrone — LB — Michigan
#44, Jr, 6’1”, 236 lbs
Consensus ranking: 88 (121, 69, NA, 83, 79)
2020 season stats: Tackles 26, TFL 2, Sacks 4.5, FF 1, FR 0, PD 1, Int 0, (5 games)

steelerfan11: Familiar with Devin Bush? McGrone has a similar profile but has a smaller sample size. He has the same size, speed, and blitzing ability that made Bush a top ten pick, but we did not see it week in and week out. However, much of that may have been because of Michigan’s inconsistent play as a unit. When Aidan Hutchinson went down with a season ending injury, Michigan’s defensive line struggled to get consistent pressure, which made Josh Ross’ And McGrone’s job more difficult. McGrone had an injury of his own in 2020, but he displayed amazing toughness and played through it. He is excellent in man coverage, but his ability to play zone coverage is an unknown at this point because of how rarely Michigan employed zone philosophies. If he reaches his full potential, he’s Devin Bush 2.0, but the Steelers already have the real Devin Bush. I expect them to find someone who would be more of a complement to Bush’s skill set.

75. Alim McNeill — DL — North Carolina State
#29, Jr, 6’2”, 320 lbs
Consensus ranking: 68 (NA, 63, NA, 75, 67)
2020 season stats: Tackles 26, TFL 4.5, Sacks 1, FF 1, FR 1, (11 games)

steelerfan11: McNeill does an excellent job of splitting the A-gap and applying pressure from the interior, but he will sometimes get upfield too quickly on running downs and become a non-factor against the run. It is rare for a 320 pound prospect to have issues with “overrunning” plays, but that is sometimes the case with McNeill. He has a quick first step out of his stance, and he maintains a good pad level, but I have concerns as to whether he can adjust the technical difficulties in his game. That said, he has enough intrigue as a penetrating 3-4 nose tackle to warrant a day two pick.

76. Pete Werner — LB — Ohio State
#20, Sr, 6’3”, 242 lbs
Consensus ranking: 112 (126, 121, 96, 106, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 54, TFL 2.5, Sacks 1, FF 2, FR 0, PD 1, Int 0, (8 games)

steelerfan11: I was not looking at Werner as a potential fit for the Steelers during the season simply because I did not know if he had the necessary athleticism, but he silenced doubters like me by recording a 4.58 40 and a 39.5 inch vertical. He is very good instinctually and plays a very smart version of football. His role increased in Ohio State’s defense despite the crowded linebacker room, and he was up to the task both in coverage and against the run. If Werner continues to improve in coverage, his size and athleticism will make him a valuable player as early as year one.

77. Milton Williams — DL — Louisiana Tech
#97, Jr, 6’4”, 278 lbs
Consensus ranking: 225 (NA, 292, NA, 157, NA)
2020 season stats: Tackles 44, TFL 10, Sacks 4.5, PD 1, FR 3, (10 games)

Ryland B.: Williams is an athletic prospect with a lot of upside, but questions regarding his size and strength will make him a risky pick in the upcoming draft. He has good mobility and has some nice pass-rush moves, and he’s a good tackler and run defender. He’s undersized though, and got pushed back more often than you’d like to see from an interior lineman. He rarely did much against double teams, too. On tape I did notice he got held a lot, which is a testament to his quickness and hand-usage. Williams will be an interesting late-round pick, but some major holes in his game may damper his otherwise fantastic upside.

78. Ronnie Perkins — EDGE — Oklahoma
#7, Jr, 6’4”, 248 lbs
Consensus ranking: 70 (NA, 98, NA, 59, 52)
2020 season stats: Tackles 24, TFL 10.5, Sacks 5.5, PD 0, FF 0, FR 0 (6 games)

Ryland B.: Perkins is a strong, aggressive EDGE with good athleticism. He has violent hands and a good collection of pass rush moves, although there is room to develop in that area. For someone listed at under 250 pounds, Perkins plays much bigger than he is and I can’t stress enough how impressive his strength is. He’s a good tackler and has all of the tools to be a good run defender, but hasn’t completely arrived there yet, with The Draft Network noting that he is “wildly undisciplined” when defending the run. A suspension at Oklahoma could be a red flag as well.

80. Chazz Surratt — LB — North Carolina
#21, Sr, 6’2”, 225 lbs
Consensus ranking: 70 (81, 75, 47, 74, 73)
2020 season stats: Tackles 91, TFL 7.5, Sacks 6, FF 1, FR 1, PD 4, Int 1, (11 games)

Itz JustNoah: As a UNC fan, I had the pleasure of watching Surratt in a lot of games this year. His pro day numbers may not be the greatest but his athleticism is evident on tape. He’s always around the ball, he plays fast and he’s good against the pass, both in coverage and as a pass rusher. Surratt is relatively new to the position and he’s not very refined but his raw talent is undeniable and should easily make him at least a 3rd round pick if he doesn’t sneak into the 2nd. I wouldn’t mind if Pittsburgh wanted to take him but I would prefer we take Collins or Bolton before even thinking about Surratt.

81. Nick Bolton — ILB — Missouri
#32, Jr, 6’0”, 232 lbs
Consensus ranking: 37 (50, 31, 32, 36, 38)
2020 season stats: Tackles 95, TFL 16, Sacks 4, FF 0, FR 1, PD 5, Int 0, (10 games)

Ryland B.: Built like Devin Bush, Bolton has a skillset similar to that of a slightly more athletic Vince Williams. He doesn’t have sideline-to-sideline range, but he has tremendous short-area explosiveness, and is a tough, physical tackler. He’s a smart player who is decent in zone coverage, but his athletic limitations show up when in man coverage. I think he could be a great interior blitzer, using his quickness to shoot gaps, but I didn’t see him do much of that at Missouri. I’m not as big a fan of his tape as others, as he often had a really hard time shedding blocks, which could be a big problem on the next level. Bolton is a solid prospect who could hear his name called anywhere from the first to third round in a linebacker class everyone has ranked differently.

Draft notes: Bolton is another intriguing linebacker option in the second or third. He skillset would compliment Devin Bush’s well, but it would leave the Steelers with two undersized linebackers starting on defense if he was the selection.

There’s certainly a lot of talented players still on the board, and the Steelers should have lots of options with their second and third round picks (#55 and #87 overall).

Who do you think the Steelers will pick on Day 2? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below, and stay tuned to Behind the Steel Curtain for more NFL Draft news and analysis.

2021 NFL Draft: Day 2 Schedule, how to watch, streaming information and more

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 5:30am
Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

All the information to watch or listen to Day 2 of the 2021 NFL Draft over a variety of platforms

Day 1 of the 2021 NFL draft is in the books. The Pittsburgh Steelers went exactly in the direction many expected and made Najee Harris the highest drafted player out of Alabama the Steelers have ever selected since 1951. Although the Steelers have their running back, there are still plenty of needs for them to address in the next two days.

Surprisingly, there are several draft picks who were not expected to be available when the Steelers selected at 24 but are still on the board. Will the Steelers make a move to go get a player? Will they trade back to gain more picks? The only way we’re going to find out is to tune in.

So you don’t miss any of the action, listed below is the schedule for Day 2 and beyond of this year’s NFL draft, which rounds will be drafted on which day, and the various place you can watch or listen to the draft.

2021 NFL Draft Schedule TV: ABC, NFL Network, ESPN, ESPN Deportes Online: Fubo (Click HERE to create a Fubo Account and stream the entire draft), Sling TV, YouTube TV, AT&T TV, Hulu with live TV
ESPN app or ESPN+: Click HERE to watch LIVE!
Paramount+: Click HERE
Peacock: Click HERE Radio (Nationally): SiriusXM, Westwood One, ESPN Radio
Radio (Locally): Steelers Nation Radio— Viewers can listen anywhere in the world online via Steelers.com or on the Steelers Official Mobile App. Friday April 30, 2021

7 PM EST Rounds 2 & 3 (picks 33- 105)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing live broadcasts on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel Friday night for a recap and breakdown after each pick. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcasts. There will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following the selection.

Saturday May 1, 2021

12 PM EST Rounds 4 through 7 (picks 106- 259)

Behind The Steel Curtain will be doing a live broadcast on the BTSC Radio YouTube channel following each pick. With the Steelers scheduled to have two picks in both the fourth and seventh rounds, the YouTube shows will run through the second selection in those rounds. Make sure you subscribe to the channel HERE and turn on notifications to be alerted to the live broadcast. Just like the first two days, there will also be a breaking news podcast on our audio platforms immediately following the selection.

Podcast: Opinions galore on Steelers selection of Najee Harris in Round 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 4:30am

The Steelers selected Najee Harris with the 24th pick in the NFL Draft. Join BTSC for a special roundtable podcast to welcome to Pittsburgh.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a first round draft pick this year (after none in the 2020 NFL Draft), and they took a running back with the pick. With help from some BTSC friends, Jeff Hartman, Dave Schofield, Michael Beck and Bryan Anthony Davis break down the pick of Najee Harris on the latest episode of the BTSC post-NFL Draft podcast.

If you haven’t heard, we have a YouTube channel, and the main reason for this is to increase the sound quality on our shows. But if you’re a visual learner you can watch the show below. Be sure to subscribe to our channel!

If you missed the live show, be sure to check out all episodes on the following platforms:

Apple Users: CLICK HERE
Spotify: CLICK HERE
Google Play: CLICK HERE

If you’re old-school and just want the audio, you can listen to it in the player below.

Minkah Fitzpatrick called the Steelers picking Najee Harris in March

Behind the Steel Curtain - Fri, 04/30/2021 - 12:00am
Photo by Chris Williams/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers got an Alabama player in the first round in Najee Harris, and another former Rolling Tide superstar called the pick in March.

The Pittsburgh Steelers have made a pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, and that started in Round 1 when they selected Najee Harris out of Alabama. Leading up to the first round, it always is a guessing game as to who the organization will take.

Will they lean on their team needs?

Will they take the best player available?

Will they draft by position?

Within each of these questions are other questions which go specifically to schools and prospects. What some might not know is how most of the time the current players on the Steelers are finding out who the team picks at the same time as the fans.

Back in March, a fan asked Minkah Fitzpatrick whether the Steelers were going to select Najee Harris. Fitzpatrick played it cool, noting he doesn’t tell the front office what to do, but he did note whoever gets him is going to be lucky, and how he is a beast.

I let the front office do their thing, but whoever gets @ohthatsNajee22 is gonna be lucky...dude’s a beast. https://t.co/dZenvjRsQF

— Minkah Fitzpatrick (@minkfitz_21) March 31, 2021

Some might brush this off, but Fitzpatrick tweeted that in March, and on Thursday night, shortly after Harris was selected, Fitzpatrick found the tweet and made it known what he said.

https://t.co/xvZy7qZUZD

— Minkah Fitzpatrick (@minkfitz_21) April 30, 2021

Players from Alabama stick together, and why wouldn’t they? The Crimson Tide are the most dominant college football program in the country, and they produce some of the most dominant NFL talent in the game today.

Harris will not just join Minkah Fitzpatrick as Alabama alumni, but also defensive lineman Isaiah Buggs, who was drafted by the Steelers in the 2018 NFL Draft.

Shockingly, the Steelers don’t draft a ton of players from Alabama, but here is hoping Harris follows in Fitzpatrick’s footsteps. In other words, being named to two Pro Bowls and being a 1st team All-Pro twice in his first three seasons. If that happens, fans won’t be thinking twice about the selection of Harris. Instead, they will be looking to find out how they can buy his jersey to rep for the rest of the regular season.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Watch Mike Tomlin’s call to Najee Harris, and his first Steelers press conference

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/29/2021 - 11:44pm
Photo by Jamie Gilliam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Check out the first look at Najee Harris as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers!

The Pittsburgh Steelers got their guy in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they selected Najee Harris, running back out of Alabama. After the pick was made, Steelers fans were excited to welcome the newest member of the organization. Some of the organizational excitement was caught on tape, and is worth sharing.

Check out head coach Mike Tomlin’s first call to Harris letting him know he is now a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers:

'You ready to do this, young man?'

Full call to @ohthatsNajee22 coming in the next episode of 'The Standard' pic.twitter.com/mUOvVqI9fl

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2021

Harris was spending the evening at a draft party in Oakland, CA and the Steelers media was able to speak with the talented running back during his party. You’ll even see Marcus Peters, cornerback of the Baltimore Ravens, crash Harris’ press conference at one point.

Needless to say, Harris isn’t just a tremendous player, but seems to be every bit the tremendous person.

#LIVE: Najee Harris addresses the media

: 2021 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC; Draft-A-Thon on @NFL https://t.co/KoIpsNaonX

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2021

There was another famous Harris who wanted to welcome Najee to the Steelers organization, and it just happened to be the man who is in Cleveland, OH, for the NFL Draft, to announce a Steelers draft pick. Here what Franco had to say to the young, but big, running back.

Another Harris in Pittsburgh‼️@ohthatsNajee22, meet @francoharrishof! pic.twitter.com/sTLEQ1aUNf

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2021

If those videos weren’t enough, it is always great to hear the boos of the Cleveland Browns fans when it was the Steelers’ turn to pick. Check out Roger Goodell take to the podium to announce the selection.

We got our guy @ohthatsNajee22 | #SteelersDraft

: 2021 #NFLDraft on NFLN/ESPN/ABC; Draft-A-Thon on @NFL pic.twitter.com/sW4rDV8e3g

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2021

Below is the press conference with Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert talking about their selection of Harris after the pick was made:

GM Kevin Colbert & Coach Tomlin talk about the selection of @ohthatsNajee22 in the first round of the #NFLDraft.

Full : https://t.co/9bLMJfOUMR pic.twitter.com/698o19pzFz

— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 30, 2021

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Pittsburgh Steelers as they prepare for Days 2 and 3 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Knee Jerk Reactions to the the Steelers taking Najee Harris in Round 1

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/29/2021 - 10:28pm
Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

One BTSC writer shares his initial and real time unadulterated reactions to the first round of the NFL draft in anticipation of the Steelers pick.

Knee-jerk Reactions are immediate responses to a situation without taking the time to analyze the situation. That’s something as sports fans that we typically do. Especially if you are a full blood Yinzer, or even just a part Yinzer. As is the custom, I compile my knee jerk thoughts and publish them immediately after each Steelers game. It’s my version of running my mouth first and apologizing later. So with that being said, I’m going to employ that philosophy here during the NFL Draft.

  • Before anything else I have to say it... Cleveland sucks and I hate mock drafts.
  • And there are the boo’s
  • A fan from each team drafting sits in the chair from Goodell’s basement from last year? Interesting. Or Cringe-worthy.
  • Speaking of Goodell, it's like hearing from the American League West. You might have to talk to one of the blokes from down under to understand that, or just look at the logos for each team in order of the standings.
  • And now finally to the real draft.
  • Well the Jaguars pick, I mean come on their team says Jag right in it. Of course they go Lawrence.
  • I think Mike Greenberg is about to have an "personal moment" since it's the Jets turn to pick. I can't take it. Switched from ESPN to the NFL Network to watch.
  • Oh look at that another surprise! (Sarcasm)
  • The question for the 49ers isn't whether or not to take a quarterback, it's just which one will they take. And the answer is Trey Lance.
  • Hotlanta actually wasn't much of a surprise going with Kyle Pitts. They should have quite the offense
  • This probably wont get super fun until we get past pick 10.
  • Can the Bungles actually Bungle this pick? Wow, they took Burrow's old college teammate.....some will say they Bungles that pick, as some wanted a pass protector.
  • The first six picks have all been offensive players, tying a record. Now it will be interesting to see when the first defensive player comes off the board.
  • Record broken as the Lions take the 7th offensive player in the tackle from Oregon.
  • The Panthers finally break the offensive streak, taking Jaycee Horn, Poppa Joe should be proud
  • I guess the Broncos were certain about Surtain.
  • If the NFC East wasn't bad enough last year, Dallas just traded back to Philadelphia as Philly wanted to move up two picks to pass the Giants.
  • Eagle pass the Giants for a pass catcher.
  • Another trade, Giants pick to the Bears. This will be a QB. Fields to Chi Town.
  • Dallas.....Bleh, hate that star.
  • Another tackle.
  • Jets trade up from 23 with Minnesota. Take Vera-Tucker.
  • Look, there's a mumbling sweatshirt in the corner of the Patriots war room.
  • Well, my Steelers pick of Zaven Collins went 16 to Arizona.
  • The Rrrrraiders take the Alabama tackle. This was a bit of a reach in most people's eyes. Most thought of him as 2nd round talent.
  • Fins go edge rusher with their 2nd first rounder.
  • Will we get to say WTF to the WFT pick? They go LB with Jamin Davis.
  • Colts go edge with Kwity Paye from Michigan.
  • I was up at 5am this morning, could we just get to the Steelers pick please.
  • Nothing lik a little Sweet Caroline.....bomp, bomp, bomp.
  • Minnesota's pick is in at 23, Steelers on the clock #HereWeGo.
  • Vikings take Darrisaw from VTech.
  • Do Steelers go RB?
  • Steelers go with Najee Harris. That will make a lot of Steelers fans happy.
  • Can I go to bed now before I get all worked up about everyone complaining that the Steelers messed this pick up.
  • Ok, as I write this I am seeing it is scheduled to publish in a couple of minutes so maybe I can get some sleep.
  • Okay I guess I get to go to bed. I will sleep on it and be back ready to go through rounds two and three tomorrow night.

There you have it, my knee jerks. I’m going to sleep on these and see how how I feel about them in the morning, and then on to day two.

For more information on the pick, check out the breaking news podcast below:

Steelers select Najee Harris with 1st round pick

Behind the Steel Curtain - Thu, 04/29/2021 - 10:27pm
Photo by Roy K. Miller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have selected Najee Harris with their 1st round pick in the 2021 draft.

Entering the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers had a number of draft needs which they needed to address. Unlike in 2020, with no first round selection in the draft, the Steelers possessed a full allotment of draft picks. With eight picks, the following positions could be viewed as a priority entering the selection process: running back, center, pass rusher and even inside linebacker. Those positions, and more, were positions of need to help the black-and-gold get to the next level in 2021. There have been numerous thoughts and debates regarding what the team will do in Round 1 of the NFL Draft.

When the dust settled, the Steelers have selected Alabama running back Najee Harris, with their first pick in the draft.

Steelers take RB Najee Harris

— Gerry Dulac (@gerrydulac) April 30, 2021

For those who may not know much about Harris as a player, this is his overall breakdown of his game, per his NFL Draft Profile:

Overview

Plus-sized runner who elevated his game and draft stock with a well-rounded performance in 2020. Harris showed improved short-area creativity and elusiveness to go with his trademark physicality. Creates additional yardage with both wiggle and power, but he lacks desired top gear to change games in a flash. He handled a heavier lift in 2020, with almost 300 total touches in 13 games. Harris’ value as a third-down option out of the backfield and as a personal protector should not be underestimated after his performance in his senior year. His running style could shorten his career, but he’s a tough, three-down runner who can immediately upgrade a running game.

Strengths

  • Great size with the demeanor for the game.
  • Runs decisively and with urgency.
  • Rarely fumbles.
  • Able to gather and cut on short notice.
  • Downhill wiggle to slalom around bodies.
  • Change of direction is crisp.
  • Makes large number of tacklers miss for being a physical back.
  • Has tools to handle inside/outside duties.
  • Follows and bursts to daylight off of lead blocks.
  • Violent finisher who is ready to thump when challenged.
  • Plus balance to keep run on track through first contact.
  • Talent as route runner and pass catcher was on full display in 2020.
  • Soft hands with above-average ball skills.
  • Willing and able in pass protection.

Weaknesses

  • Runs with inconsistent feel for tempo.
  • Lacks speed to threaten for the big play.
  • Gets in a hurry, hindering his ability to find developing blocks.
  • Runs with low knee action and average burst between tackles.
  • Average acceleration out of his cuts.
  • Takes on heavy contact on a consistent basis.
  • Running style could lead to challenges with durability.

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ draft needs in the remaining rounds of the draft now would be considered: offensive tackle, center, tight end, cornerback, among other positions.

What do you think of the selection? Let us know by voting in the poll below and be sure to comment in the comment section below!

For more information on the pick, check out the breaking news podcast below:

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