Sunday, March 7, 2021

Pre-Free Agency Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL Mock Draft Roundup

Throughout the year and leading up to the 2021 NFL draft, we will update our Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft Roundup showing picks for the Pittsburgh Steelers from several prominent sites and draft analysts.

For a more inclusive lists of mock drafts for the Pittsburgh Steelers, check out our 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft Database.

The following are picks in recent mock drafts for the Steelers:

EDSFootball - Hanson (3/5)

24. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

The Steelers ranked last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (84.4) and while they ranked bottom five in rush attempts (373), they also ranked last in the league in yards per carry (3.6). Meanwhile James Conner has struggled to stay on the field and almost certainly won't be back in Pittsburgh next season. The all-time career rushing leader in Alabama history, the do-it-all back rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns and added 43 receptions for 425 yards and four more scores last season.

ESPN - McShay (3/4)

24. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

Ben Roethlisberger is now under contract for 2021, and he has plenty of weapons. But with James Conner heading toward free agency, the run game could use a punch. Harris is that and more, showcasing speed, size, decisiveness and ball security as a rusher, as well as upside as a receiver and pass-protector. Pittsburgh's offense fell off a good deal in the second half last season, and the top back still on the roster is Benny Snell Jr., who managed just 3.3 yards per carry last year. Harris averaged 6.0 over four seasons at Alabama, and his 26 rushing touchdowns in 2020 led college football.

Brooke Pryor on his fit with the Steelers: For a team that started 11-0, the Steelers have a laundry list of needs in the 2021 draft, and running back is in the top tier of that wish list. Harris would be an instant starter on a team likely to part with Conner in free agency. The Steelers badly need to rejuvenate the run game and actually stick with it this season. Adding Harris is the first step.

CBS Sports - Trapasso (3/3)

24. Carlos Basham Jr., EDGE, Wake Forest

Basham instantly stands in for Bud Dupree -- if he lands on another team in free agency -- and can give the Steelers some depth inside because of his large frame.

The Athletic - Beat Writers (3/1)

24. Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan

The Steelers have neglected the offensive line for nearly a decade, and it has finally caught up with them with the worst running game in the league last year. A near-total rebuild is in order up front. It has already started with the retirement of Maurkice Pouncey and the likely departure of Alejandro Villanueva as well as new offensive line coaches being hired. The remake will continue with Mayfield -- which would mark the Steelers' first selection of a tackle in the first round since the colossal bust of Jamain Stephens in 1996. Mayfield will have an opportunity to play immediately at left tackle because he fits the criteria for what the Steelers look for in a first-rounder -- Power 5 school (Michigan), underclassman (redshirt sophomore), young (won't turn 21 until the end of May) and experienced (started 15 of 18 games). The Steelers haven't taken a non-Power 5 player in the first round since Ben Roethlisberger in 2004. -- Mark Kaboly

Touchdown Wire - Farrar (2/26)

24. Alijah Vera-Tucker, IOL, USC

The Steelers aren't just dealing with Ben Roethlisberger's future and the financial ramifications thereof right now -- they also must address an offensive line that will look very different in 2021, due to center Maurkice Pouncey's retirement and left tackle Alejandro Villanueva's impending free agency. Pittsburgh's dire cap situation probably leaves Villanueva as the odd man out, so it's time for reinforcements. Factor in the team's uncertain prospects at left guard (Matt Feiler was decent in that role last season), and the need becomes even more pressing.

Vera-Tucker played right and left guard for the Trojans in 2018 and 2019, and was a revelation in 2020 when he kicked out to left tackle. Outside of a very unfortunate series of reps against Oregon's Kayvon Thibodeaux in his collegiate finale (two sacks and six total pressures allowed), Vera-Tucker shows the kind of inexpensive functional versatility the Steelers could really use right about now.

What stands out on first view about Vera-Tucker is that he's extremely aggressive and exact with his hands -- while many blockers even at the NFL level refuse to create a boundary with their hands, he's got that on lock. Many project Vera-Tucker at guard at the next level, but I think that in a power-based offense with a lot of quick passing (hellooo, Pittsburgh), he could be an asset outside if he gets his footwork and kick-slide together. In any event, he's plug-and-play in a lot of ways. - Casserly (2/25)

24. Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State

Even though the Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger are planning to continue their partnership, I don't see the veteran playing much longer. In a stunning turn of events, Fields slides all the way to No. 24 (obviously, it won't be a surprise if he goes much earlier than this) and Pittsburgh pounces at the chance to land a talented successor for Big Ben. Sitting behind a future Hall of Famer for a year is a prime spot for the Ohio State prospect. - Meinke (2/25)

24. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson

The Steelers ran the ball worse than every other team in the league last season. They just miss out on RB1, but this guy is pretty good too. Etienne averaged 7.2 yards per carry for his career. Like I said, pretty good.

San Diego Union Tribune (2/24)

24. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

The Steelers are facing difficult decisions at almost every major position after this season, but it was clear they were a one-dimensional offense down the stretch. Harris has evolved into an all-around threat. Of course, he's a powerful runner with his size (6-foot-2, 230 pounds), but he's also developed into a great receiver out of the backfield and he's very capable in pass-protection.

Previous update: Pittsburgh Steelers Mock Draft Roundup 5.0

MORE TEAMS: All NFL Team Mock Draft Roundups

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