In 2021 the Steelers will be on the other side of the picks used to move up to get Devin Bush, so they’ve got a 1st, 2nd and 3rd Rounder for the first time in a couple years. They are also projected to have three compensatory picks. Those should be a 4th Round pick for Javon Hargrave, 6th Rd for B.J. Finney and a 7th rounder for Nick Vannett. That brings their pick total to NINE, which is pretty good.
General Manager, Kevin Colbert has done a great job of retooling the Steelers Defense. Other than possibly needing a new starting Nose Tackle and one Inside Linebacker the Steelers are set for starters. This mock assumes that Ulysees Gilbert and/or Vince Williams will be able to fill the ILB spot and either Chris Wormley, Tyson Alualu, Isaiah Buggs or UDFA, Josiah Coatney, will be able to man NT. That leaves the team only looking for depth players on Defense with Safety, ILB and NT being the priority.
On Offense, 2021 will be the year the Steelers need to start rebuilding the O-Line. Offensive Tackle, Zach Banner, couldn’t handle speed rushers in college and I’m guessing he’ll have the same problem if he starts at Right Tackle for the Steelers. Interior line depth is also lacking and Maurkice Pouncey’s game began to slip in 2019.
I’m also guessing the Steelers will still need Wide Receiver help. Juju Smith-Schuster wilted under the pressure of being the Steelers top WR and instead played like a low performing WR3. He’s also developed a bad habit of dropping key passes. The Steelers may not even pick up his 5th year option. Diontae Johnson has shown promise but he also had ball security problems and led the team in drops. Ryan Switzer is still on the team for reasons I can’t understand.
Tight End should be set with Eric Ebron, Vance McDonald and Zach Gentry. I would go for a Running Back but the Steelers have added some young players in the last few seasons. Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland need to have chance to show what they can do. If they could get a full season out of James Conner there might not be many problems here.
Way Too Early 2021 Mock Draft.
1st Rd – OT – Thayer Munford – Ohio St – 6’-6”, 315# – Keeps his man in front of him in pass protection. Not a waist bender, plays with good technique. Good change of direction. Can be a road grader in run blocking and looks for work once he’s dealt with his primary assignment. Technique greatly improved from sophomore to junior year. Had back surgery in 2018 and looked much better in 2019. If Munford continues to improve in 2020 he could be a set and forget player at Left Tackle. He’s here to challenge Banner for the starting RT spot in 2021. In the video, below, Munford is #75 at LT.
2nd Rd – WR/RS – Jaylen Waddle – 5’-10”, 182# – 4.37/40 – After playing behind Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Davonte Smith in 2019, Waddle will see much more field time as a starter in 2020. Has the speed to blow the top off the Defense. Routes generally look good as do his hands. Puts in good effort in blocking and is effective for his size. In two seasons Waddle has 78 catches for 1408 yards at 18.1 yards per and 13 TDs.
For some reason Ryan Switzer is still on the Steelers roster. Waddle could end that. He’s a great punt returner with 36 returns for 720 yards at an insane 20.0 yards per and 2 TDs. He has also returned 5 kickoffs for 175 yards at an equally koo-koo 35.0 ypr and 1 TD.
4th Rd – Free Safety/Nickleback/CB – Kary Vincent Jr. – LSU – 5’-10”, 183# – 4.38/40 – If he was a couple inches taller, Vincent would be going much higher. Very fast, versatile Defensive Back who can handle Free Safety, Nickleback and maybe Cornerback duties. I’m guessing it’s by the coach’s instruction but he currently gives receivers too big of a pad. Other than that he’s generally good in man coverage and shows nice anticipation and ball skills. Talented player who should be a good sub at Free Safety with starting Nickleback potential. His versatility should allow him to be used the same way the Steelers want to use Minkah Fitzpatrick, in 2020. A two year starter, Vincent had 47 tackles, 2.0 for a loss, 4 interceptions and 8 pass deflections in 2019.
4th Rd (Comp JH) – Strong Safety/FS – Paris Ford – Pittsburgh – 6’-0”, 195” – 4.50/40 – Ford is a hard hitting Strong Safety with a nose for the ball. Has the range to sub at FS. Pitt used two high Safeties, a lot but I think Ford would prefer to be around the line of scrimmage where he can get more smack down time. Will thrive in the box and be a factor against the run. Very quick closing on the ball. Always tries to use a jarring shot to dislodge the ball. Not a lot of film of him in coverage because of the Panther’s Cover-2 but shows the athleticism and anticipation to be good against TEs, RBs and some slot receivers. He did play some Cornerback in his sophomore year. Should be a great special teamer. Had 90 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, 3 interceptions including a pick six, 9 pass deflections and 3 forced fumbles in 2019.
5th Rd – Traded to Seattle for TE Nick Vannett
6th Rd (Comp B.J.F) – ILB – Rayshard Ashby – Virginia Tech – 5’-10”, 237# – 4.72/40 – Defensive team leader and tackling machine. Calls the shots for the front seven and shows good diagnostic skills. Rarely gets fooled by misdirection. Disruptive at the line of scrimmage and impacts a high number of plays. Very little film of him in pass coverage but should be able to handle RBs and TEs. High motor player who will excel on special teams. Could be a great sub for Devin Bush. 120 tackles, 17 for a loss, 5 Sacks and 5 QB hits in 2019.
7th Rd – WR/KR – Ihmir Smith-Marsette – Iowa – 6’-1”, 186# – 4.51/40 – Another player to get Switzer off the roster. Smith-Marsette is a triple threat as WR, Kick Returner and runner. Good combination of size, speed and agility. Runs good routes and shows very good hands. Tracks the ball very well. Moves like a Halfback and could probably be one if he put on 15 pounds. Decisive as a kick returner. He catches the ball, sees his move and goes. Should see the field as a rookie on Kick Returns and in the Slot. Has the size and game to move outside. Has major contributor/starter potential. Frankly, I don’t think this kid will make it out the 4th Rd but most Draft sites currently have him going in the 7th.
In 2019 he had 44 receptions for 722 at 16.4 ypc and 5 TDs. Smith-Marsette added 11 carries, mostly on jet sweeps and end arounds, for 108 yards at 9.8 yards per and 3 TDs.. Not stopping there, he has 45 kickoffs returns for 1344 yards at a 29.9 yard average and 2 TDs on his career.
7th Rd – Nose Tackle – Phidarian Mathis – Alabama – 6’-4”, 317# – Big 1-technique who draws double teams. Has some pass rush moves. Plays with a high motor. Had 27 tackles, .5 sacks, 2 QB hits and forced fumble as a reserve playing in 12 games in 2019. Should be a starter for Alabama in 2020. This pick is for Dan McCuller’s roster spot.
7th Rd (Comp NV) – OG/OT – Rashawn Slater – Northwestern – 6’-4”, 315# – A three year starter, Slater has played both Left and Right Tackle. Good hand use and rarely loses his man once he’s latched onto him. Looks solid in pass protection. Very good at pull, trap and move blocking. Should be a good swing sub and spot starter at OT. Has the athleticism to play and maybe start at Guard. Could be a steal. Slater is #70 at Left Tackle in the video below.
So, like I said, this Mock is more about boredom from lack of football and the never ending Covid-19 pandemic but I think it’s a good exercise to begin to look at options heading into the 2020 season. A lot of starting Seniors graduated last season so there’s not a lot of film on some 2021 prospects.
What do you think of this mock? Let us know in the comments. And lets hope we have a full season of Football for both the college players and the NFL!!!