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Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021

The Steelers want one more run with Ben Roethlisberger. How did the Steelers’ 2021 NFL Draft picks grade out?

Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Draft Picks & Grades 2021
Dec 19, 2020; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are betting on one more run with Ben Roethlisberger. However, after a free agency where they lost key free agents, this team will need to do some retooling in order to make that happen. It is about value just as much as it is about need for Pittsburgh. What grades did the Steelers’ 2021 NFL Draft picks receive?

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Steelers draft picks in 2021

  • 24th Overall Selection (R1-P24): Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
  • 55th Overall Selection (R2-P23): Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
  • 87th Overall Selection (R3-P24): Kendrick Green, OG/OC, Illinois 
  • 128th Overall Selection (R4-P23): Dan Moore, OT, Texas A&M
  • 140th Overall Selection (R4-P35, compensatory pick): Buddy Johnson, LB, Texan A&M
  • 156th Overall Selection (R5-P12, from Philadelphia): Isaiahh Loudermilk, EDGE, Wisconsin
  • 216th Overall Selection (R6-R32, from Tampa Bay): Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami
  • 245th Overall Selection (R7-P18, from Miami): Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma
  • 254th Overall Selection (R7-P27, from Baltimore): Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech

Who did the Steelers draft on Day 1?

With the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Alabama running back Najee Harris.

Pittsburgh Steelers grades for 2021 NFL Draft

The Steelers needed to improve the running game in some way. Harris is a phenomenal talent at the position.

Najee Harris, RB, Alabama

An elite receiver with great vision and contact balance, Harris is going to upgrade the Steelers putrid running back room. He has the agility and burst for his size that should allow him to create yards after contact.

The Steelers did pass on Teven Jenkins, Creed Humphrey, and others that could make a more tangible improvement upfront. Still, the pick will largely be decided by how well they can attack the offensive line over the next two days of the draft.

Grade: B-

Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State

The Steelers took a much-needed tight end with Penn State’s Pat Freiermuth. Freiermuth brings a masterful blend of physicality, size, route running, and strong hands that should allow the Steelers to get the successor to Eric Ebron. He will step in and improve the running game and give the Steelers a 12-personnel package they have not had in a long time. The value here is worth it, even if they passed on linemen.

Grade: B+

Kendrick Green, OC/OG, Illinois

The Steelers waited until the third round, but they have their starting center of choice. Kendrick Green is an athletic center with more than enough strength to drive guys out of their spots on a play-to-play basis. Green should be a Day 1 starter with upside, and he will improve a Steelers running game that badly needed an infusion of talent.

Grade: A

Dan Moore, OT, Texas A&M

The Steelers add a long, flexible tackle in Texas A&M’s Dan Moore. Moore is a tackle who lacks pop behind his punches, but he is controlled within his technique and squatty frame. He has improved his body over the course of his college career, so the work ethic is good. This might be slightly early for Moore, but he is a good developmental chip.

Grade: B

Buddy Johnson, LB, Texan A&M

The Steelers add in an athletic, physical football player in Buddy Johnson. Johnson lacks play strength and can be manhandled when he tries to attack downhill. He will also have to improve on his eye discipline. However, he has coverage upside with his fluidity and is a vocal leader. Overall, the Steelers will have to develop Johnson, but there is the athletic upside that could warrant this pick.

Grade: B

Isaiahh Loudermilk, EDGE, Wisconsin

A bit of a tweener, the Steelers came up in the draft to select Isaiahh Loudermilk who they will likely see as either a potential outside linebacker or five-technique. Loudermilk flashes some burst with spurts of power. He flies around the football field with a hot motor. Loudermilk is likely to be a special teamer on Day 1 but has some upside to become more. Still, trading up for him is a bit of a tough pill to swallow.

Grade: C+

Quincy Roche, EDGE, Miami

The Steelers waited until late in the draft to add some depth behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith, but they hit a home run with value. Quincy Roche is an explosive, bendy edge rusher who is perfect for their 3-4 OLB position. He can drop into space, and while he has some warts, this is a great value pick.

Grade: A

Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma

The Steelers finally added a much-needed cornerback with Tre Norwood of Oklahoma. A guy who lacks length and size, Norwood is a feisty and physical defensive back. However, he is a shoddy tackler. Still, he should be a safety and nickel cornerback hybrid for the Steelers who has plus ball skills.

Grade: B

Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech

An absolute unit of a punter at 6’0”, 255 pounds, Pressley Harvin III fills a big-time special teams need that the Steelers have needed to fill for years. There is not always a ton of bang for your buck with a punter pick, but this late in the draft, it cannot hurt if that is a chronic need. The Steelers had a chronic need, and Harvin can help fill the void.

Grade: C+

Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Grade: B-

The Pittsburgh Steelers had a draft that is quite topsy-turvy, to say the least. There Loudermilk pick is questionable at best. He is a projection and trading an extra fourth for him is not great. However, Harris, Freiermuth, Roche, and Green are all especially good football players. Moore and Johnson could develop into future starters. It all comes down to value at positions at this point. Should the Steelers have addressed the offensive line earlier? I believe so, but there’s no question they made this roster better, so it is hard to be too upset.

Team needs for Pittsburgh coming into the NFL Draft

The Steelers have at least one more year with Big Ben under center, but what positions must they address in the 2021 NFL Draft?

Running Back

The Steelers may have the worst running back room in the NFL right now. No one inspires confidence behind any offensive line, and with James Conner gone, this is a position that will be addressed early in the draft.

Offensive Line

The Steelers should target both center and tackle early in the draft. They lost three starters, including Maurkice Pouncey at center. It makes sense for them to attack this position early to improve the running game and allow Ben Roethlisberger to drop back comfortably.

Cornerback

After losing both Steven Nelson and Mike Hilton, the Steelers need depth at the cornerback position. Make no mistake, they need a starting slot cornerback as well. It would not be a surprise to see the Steelers double down at this position.

EDGE

Bud Dupree walked and while the Steelers do have Alex Highsmith to fill the void, they have zero depth at the position. They need someone to eat up rotational reps behind Highsmith and T.J. Watt.

Tight End

Vance McDonald’s retirement has left the Steelers without a suitable second tight end. Eric Ebron is no blocker, and while he is a capable receiver, the Steelers need a tight end of the future at some point in this class.

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