The Steelers pick at 24 might be one of the more interesting selections to watch in the back third of the first round. A team that struggled to run the football during their epic collapse from undefeated for a good chunk of the season to limping into the playoffs to be knocked out by their division rival the Cleveland Browns.
On the surface it might be easy to conclude that they look to be in prime position to grab the top running back in the draft and after their running game collapsed in 2020 and they allowed their starter to move on during free agency; however, that might be putting the cart in front of the horse. Their offensive line was atrocious and yet it got significantly worse since 2020 ended. Maurkice Pouncey retired, Matt Feiler was lost in free agency and Alejandro Villanueva looks like he will be allowed to sign elsewhere. Where are the replacements going to come from other than this draft? Although the need at running back is substantial, can they really use a first-round pick on this position meanwhile they have arguably the worst offensive line in the league now?Embed from Getty Images
Would Harris be a great addition to this offense? Yes, without a doubt. Can he solve all of the issues with this offense or its running game? No chance. Harris might be the best back in this draft class and he may even be one of the most talented backs in the NFL, but with zero offensive line in front of him, his talent will never transition fully into production. He won’t be able to break enough tackles to gain substantial yards consistently. The Steelers don’t just need depth or a single starter from this draft, they’re really looking to replace three starters and that’s looking at it conservatively. This might be possible if all of the first three picks are spent on the line, but even that’s a significant stretch. At the heart of a great running game is a fantastic offensive line.
In the second round of Mel Kiper’s Steelers mock draft 4.0, he expects the pick to be offensive tackle Dillon Radunz.
Pittsburgh will be starting two new tackles in 2021, they need to get one of them here. Radunz played with Trey lance at North Dakota State and he combines impressive tape, albeit against lesser competition, and great physical attributes. He fits the mold of a Steeler by being a physical finisher and someone who contributes in pass and run blocking with equal skill and tenacity.
In the first two picks of Mel Kiper’s Steelers mock draft 4.0, he expects them to draft Najee Harris to replace James Connor and Dillon Radunz to help fill the void left behind by the gutting of the offensive line this offseason. Pittsburgh has no real other choice than to continue using draft capital on adding to the competition to find multiple starters along the offensive line. They also could use help in the secondary, a tight end, and a replacement for Bud Dupree.