Steelers 2021 NFL draft needs heading into the season

Curt Popejoy
·3 min read

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In just a month, the Pittsburgh Steelers will finally be playing some football. The offseason has been agonizingly long and a lack of preseason games only makes things worse. But 2020 could be the last best chance for the Steelers to make a serious push for a Super Bowl before big changes come across the roster.

Those changes will have to come via the draft due to a tight salary cap situation next year. Here is our breakdown of the Steelers top draft needs for 2021 as of right now.

1-Edge rusher

There’s almost no chance the Steelers get Bud Dupree back. He’s playing on the franchise tag this season but with his teammate T.J. Watt on the verge of a massive extension, there won’t be much left to pay Dupree. The Steelers drafted Alex Highsmith in the third round in 2020 but beyond him, there isn’t much to build around.

2-Offensive tackle

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If Zach Banner and Chuks Okorafor turn out to be great, this need slides down the list a little. But for now we are leaving it near the top because of how important having great tackles in the NFL is. On the left side Alejandro Villanueva has been fine but an upgrade there would be a smart move.

3-Defensive line

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The Steelers can never have enough good defensive linemen. Pittsburgh lost Javon Hargrave to free agency this year and are hoping to replace him with some combination of Tyson Alualu and Chris Wormley. This isn’t going to be enough and so finding some talent for the middle of the defensive line will be a top priority.

4-Wide receiver

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This is another draft need that will depend heavily on free agency. If the Steelers can find a way to re-sign JuJu Smith-Schuster, wide receiver isn’t a need at all. But if Smith-Schuster leaves, look for the Steelers to use a mid-round pick to fill in depth at the position.

5-Cornerback

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No one expects Joe Haden or Steven Nelson to leave next season but the problem is Mike Hilton. The Steelers have been buying time with the talented slot cornerback but it is going to be time to pay up. If Hilton has another big season he is going to be too expensive for the Steelers and drafting his replacement will be a priority.

6-Quarterback

(Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

We all hope Ben Roethlisberger is going to play five more years and when he finally retires, Mason Rudolph will step in without missing a beat. But the reality is 2019 happened and nothing is certain. If a top quarterback slides early in the draft, I’d be fine with the Steelers taking a shot on him.

7-Running back

(Karl Roser / Pittsburgh Steelers)

On paper the Steelers have several interesting running backs on the roster. But none of these guys look like the type of player who can carry a rushing offense. You figure in that James Conner is a free agent who has underperformed since taking over for Le’Veon Bell and it is more clear why the Steelers are still going to be searching for that next great running back.