The Pittsburgh Steelers have begun the 2020 season with a record of 5-0. Pittsburgh has one of the best defenses in the NFL, if not the best. On offense, the Steelers have found success on the ground. In this 2021 Mock Draft, we’ll be controlling the Pittsburgh Steelers as we hop into the war room and reload the franchise. With an aging quarterback, and several key players set to hit free agency, this should be a fun one.
First Round – Pick 27
Zach Wilson, Quarterback, BYU
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is on the backend of his career. If he goes two more seasons, I’d be pleasantly surprised. I don’t believe that Pittsburgh has a long-term replacement for Big Ben on it’s roster.
As a result, let’s draft a franchise quarterback for the Steelers. Zach Wilson has been impressive for BYU this season, albeit with an easier schedule than most. I’m concerned about what Wilson will be able to accomplish when asked to throw into tight windows with accuracy on a consistent basis. Nonetheless, I still believe that Zach Wilson is the type of quarterback prospect that a franchise, such as Pittsburgh, can develop.
Second Round – Pick 59
Jaycee Horn, Cornerback, South Carolina
Pittsburgh has Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow, and Baker Mayfield in the division. Even if they’re able to make a seamless transition at the quarterback position, they have three prolific passers to compete with. Needless to say, the secondary isn’t a pressing need, but it needs to be addressed.
Jaycee Horn has been extremely impressive this season. Horn will only be 21 years of age at the time of the 2021 NFL Draft, but he’s already more gifted than most. He’s a lockdown corner that will be able to play from day one in the National Football League. The Steelers have several needs in this 2021 Mock Draft, such as wide receiver, but a defensive back is the right decision.
Third Round – Pick 90
Spencer Brown, Offensive Tackle, Northern Iowa
Earlier this week, it was announced that Spencer Brown had receiver, and accepted, an invitation to the 2021 Reese’s Senior Bowl. This games been extremely helpful to FCS-level NFL Draft prospects. Not only is the third round in this 2021 Mock Draft tremendous value for the Steelers, it’s also going to help out their quarterback development down the road.
Pittsburgh already has limited depth on the offensive line heading into the offseason. With three tackles headed for free agency, it’s not going to get any better for them. Even if Spencer Brown is shifted to the interior offensive line to begin his career, he brings much needed versatility.
Fourth Round – Pick 128
Cade Mays, Interior Offensive Line, Tennessee
Let’s go back-to-back on the offensive line here.
Cade Mays received a waiver to play from the SEC following a transfer from Georgia. Even if he started a bit late this season, Mays is still a solid draft prospect. On the previous page, I went into detail into Pittsburgh’s offensive line depth.
At the very least, Mays is an upgrade at the bottom end of depth. On the high-end, Cade Mays has a skillset and the abilities to start at guard next season. Even if Ben Roethlisberger returns next season, which I find unlikely, depth on the offensive line puts the Steelers in a much better situation.
Fourth Round – Pick 138
Mohamed Ibrahim, Running Back, Minnesota
James Conner is set to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. In the 2020 NFL Draft, Pittsburgh used a fourth round pick on Anthony McFarland. Even so, I still find it likely that they could look for additional depth.
Mohamed Ibrahim has a knack for slipping through small gaps in the trenches and breaking free downfield. Ibrahim is a three-down back that looks for contact and thrives in traffic. While the Steelers have depth at the position, Ibrahim is a draft prospect that will be able to stand out.
Sixth Round – Pick 205
Phidarian Mathis, Interior Defensive Line, Alabama
The Steelers don’t have an immediate need at defensive tackle, but let’s look at value in this 2021 Mock Draft. Phidarian Mathis has been a solid interior defensive lineman for the University of Alabama. Out of high school, Mathis was a defensive end. Even if the steelers don’t have a need on the defensive line in 2021, they certainly will down the road. Stashing Phidarian Mathis on the practice squad for a season isn’t a terrible idea. If the Steelers face injuries, they could always call Mathis up.
Sixth Round – Pick 222
Elijah Moore, Wide Receiver, Ole Miss
JuJu Smith-Schuster is set to become an unrestricted free agent and, quite frankly, I don’t believe it’s likely that they’re able to re-sign him. The Steelers have found success with Chase Claypool, but also need to find ways to take pressure off of him and spread the defense out.
Elijah Moore isn’t a replacement for Smith-Schuster, but he does excel in the short passing game. Moore is creative in space and does well in making things happen in traffic. By drafting a receiver such as Moore, it’ll take pressure off of Claypool and allow him to work cleanly downfield.
Seventh Round – Pick 231
Trey Dean III, Cornerback, Florida
In the second round of this 2021 Mock Draft, I had the Steelers select a lockdown corner in Jaycee Horn. With this pick in the seventh round, it’s about finding depth and taking a chance on a late-round prospect. Trey Dean has solid athleticism and an ability to diagnose plays quickly. However, I’d like to see him improve in coverage and tackling ballcarriers in the open field. If Pittsburgh is able to develop Dean and bring him along slowly, they could find a nice backup to contribute in zone coverage.
Seventh Round – Pick 252
Patrick Johnson, EDGE, Tulane
Patrick Johnson best projects as an outside linebacker in the National Football League. He’s certainly not ready to play right away, but he has done well at Tulane. The long-term development of Patrick Johnson will be key for the Pittsburgh Steelers, but if they’re successful in doing so, they would have depth in the front seven. More so, they could’ve Johnson for a draft pick down the road.