The Pittsburgh Steelers are going to need quite a bit of help this offseason if they hope to rebound from last year. The Steelers are expected to lose at least three of their starting offensive linemen from 2020 this offseason (including Maurkice Pouncey who announced his retirement) and they will need to shift their focus primarily to that area of the team.
Thankfully for the Steelers, there is plenty of offensive line talent in this 2021 NFL Draft and they could take advantage of adding offensive line depth deeper in the draft than they would usually have to. With that being said, the Steelers have one pick in each of the NFL Draft’s first three rounds and they could use those selections to add some great long-term investments to their roster.
The Steelers have some solid players to build around in wide receiver Chase Claypool and a bright young defense, but they also have their fair share of needs. The Steelers will likely use the NFL Draft to address their needs on the offensive line, the running back position, and fine tune the secondary a little bit.
Pittsburgh could dominate in the AFC yet again if they make the right picks in the NFL Draft this year and they certainly plan to do so.
Let’s take a look at who the Steelers should take in the 2021 NFL Draft’s first three rounds.
Round One, #24 Overall: Alex Leatherwood, OT, Alabama
The Steelers aren’t going to want to smell the flowers in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. The Steelers are going to want to draft a guy who can start on the offensive line right away and not have to have him sit for a year or two. The Steelers could have that guy in Alex Leatherwood out of Alabama.
Leatherwood is one of the most experienced and decorated offensive linemen in the entire NFL Draft and his impact would be felt right away. He was a starting offensive tackle for two National Championships and he was a two-time First Team All-SEC offensive tackle twice and had to settle for a second team nomination once.
He is as surefire as they come other than the top two dogs on the board and the Steelers could put him in the Black and Yellow immediately. If the Steelers picked Leatherwood right here, they would have their franchise tackle to build around.
Round Two, #55 Overall: Greg Newsome, CB, Northwestern
The Steelers could double dip on offensive line in the second round, but they should look to snag one of the most underrated cornerbacks in the entire NFL Draft. Greg Newsome, a 6-foot-1 cornerback out of Northwestern, is as good as they get and in his All-American season in 2020, he only allowed 12 receptions all season.
Pittsburgh needs a young cornerback who can learn and develop into the next star defensive back in Pittsburgh. Newsome lining up across from Joe Haden could be a lethal combination to try to throw against and the Steelers should look to make this happen.
Newsome, in his career, accumulated 71 tackles, one tackle for a loss, one interception, and 20 passes defended while at Northwestern. Teams hardly threw on Newsome’s side of the field, which in result limited his interception opportunities. Newsome isn’t much of a ball hawk, but the Steelers could certainly benefit from his shutdown skills.
Round Three, #87 Overall: Michael Carter, RB, North Carolina
The Steelers don’t have a dire need at running back, but picking up the third highest ranked running back in the third round of the 2021 NFL Draft could be a great choice. The Steelers aren’t certain about the future of James Conner in Pittsburgh and they could draft North Carolina running back Michael Carter to make up for their loss.
Carter is as quick and agile as they come and to be quite frank he reminds me a lot of what Le’Veon Bell brought to the Steelers. He has nimble feet and a quickness about him that makes him the perfect mix of what Bell and Conner both gave the Steelers.
Carter, in four years at North Carolina, accumulated 514 rush attempts, 3,404 rushing yards, 6.6 yards per carry, and ran for 22 touchdowns. He also hauled in 82 receptions for 656 receiving yards (8.0 yards per reception) and six receiving touchdowns as well. He could be an elite running back for the Steelers.