Round 4, Pick 125: Jeremy Chinn, S Southern Illinois
Two small-school players for the Steelers in one draft? When it fits their needs, the Steelers have at least been willing to take a shot on a guy outside of the Power-5 conferences, and that includes dipping into the FCS level to find their guys. They took Diontae Johnson out of Toledo last year and took Javon Hargrave not too long ago to remedy their defensive line woes.
The Steelers have to take care of their safety depth issues. And what they will look for in their safeties are great athleticism and ball skills. Over the past year, the ball skills part of things has become a pre-requisite to becoming a Steelers defensive back. Jeremy Chinn checks both of those boxes off, and his tape proves that he has that playmaking ability.
Furthermore, the Steelers are big on communication in a complicated scheme and tackling in space. Again, that is a recent thing that they have emphasized after years of woes, and Chinn is both a sure tackler in space and a high IQ football player. The Steelers are going to like Chinn, and his role on special teams early in his career should be defined. He was known for being a standout special teamer at Southern Illinois, and that only adds to the connection here as the Steelers value their special teams a lot.
Also Considered: Notre Dame S Alohi Gilman, Georgia IOL Solomon Kindley, Florida RB Lamical Perine
Round 6, Pick 179: Kevin Dotson, IOL Louisiana Lafayette
Nasty, physical, athletic, and an absolute grinder is the definition of a Steelers offensive lineman. Kevin Dotson checks the boxes of the Steelers mentality for their interior offensive lineman with flying colors. After not receiving an invite to the Combine, Dotson likely will fall further than I thought he would have beforehand. However, the fit with the Steelers gap-based scheme is a perfect mesh and fit for Dotson, who loves to use his power to drive guys into the ground at will.
Dotson has the athleticism to get out in space and reach guys when the Steelers do move to a more zone-based running scheme as well. He has a serious mean streak to his game and makes guys fly out of their gaps at times. He is fun to watch. Dotson gives the Steelers a much-needed injection of youth in the interior offensive line room and a guy with a lot of upside to be more than just a sixth-round depth pick.
Also Considered: San Diego State CB Luq Barcoo, Utah ILB Francis Bernard
Round 7, Pick 210: John Hightower, WR Boise State
The Steelers might go wide receiver earlier than this, but in actuality, they do not have to do that. With the emergence of Washington and Johnson in addition to positive contributions from Deon Cain, the Steelers have a solid wide receiver room. But in the late rounds, the Steelers will look to add someone that can add speed, depth, and, most importantly, massive special teams value.
John Hightower, who is a 6’3″ speedster, checks all those boxes and more for the Steelers. Hightower is an early day three talent but could fall due to concerns about his hands. He has not answered the questions about the drops he has shown on tape and at the Shrine Game, but he has also proven to be an electric deep threat and hard to take down in space.
Hightower also brings the ability to be a deep threat and gunner hybrid that Johnny Holton was for the Steelers in 2019 and upgrade at that position due to Hightower’s true technical precision on his releases and advanced special teams ability. This pick makes a lot of sense for a seventh-rounder with upside to do a lot and get a hat on game day.
Also Considered: Illinois ILB Dele Harding, Iowa RB Toren Young