2021 NFL Draft Grade: Pittsburgh Steelers
Round 1 Pick 24: RB Najee Harris
Round 2 Pick 55: TE Pat Freiermuth
Round 3 Pick 87: G Kendrick Green
Round 4 Pick 128: OT Dan Moore Jr.
Round 4 Pick 140: ILB Buddy Johnson
Round 5 Pick 156: DT Isaiahh Loudermilk
Round 6 Pick 216: LB Quincy Roche
Round 7 Pick 245: CB Tre Norwood
Round 7 Pick 254: P Pressley Harvin III
We all watched the embarrassment that was the Steelers’ loss to Cleveland in the playoffs. The little brother grew up and smacked the big brother all over the field until the final whistle. Pittsburgh was completely incapable of moving the ball on the ground in that game or for much of the season for that matter. The Steelers had the fewest rushing yards and yards per attempt in the entire NFL.
Because of that, it is not surprising at all that Pittsburgh would go running back early in the draft. Taking Najee Harris should give them a dynamic weapon; someone who is capable of not only running the ball, but also being a passing target out of the backfield.
Of course, there is going to be the crowd that believes taking a running back in the first round is never a good idea under any circumstances. While this may be the case, and taking an offensive lineman instead would make just as much sense, I believe the Steelers’ position and need warranted taking Harris at 24. He is the most talented back in the draft, and Pittsburgh can use him in a similar role as they did with LeVeon Bell.
Even if they took a running back a little earlier than what is ideal, there is no question they helped address both pass and run blocking with their next three picks. Pat Freiermuth is an excellent blocking tight end, and he has the ability to run some clean passing routes as well. He has been donned the nickname “Baby Gronk” for a reason. Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr. can also fill immediate needs. Moore is not nearly as sharp as Green yet; he still needs some improvements in technique. However, Green will do a great job of opening up running lanes for Harris, and Moore could turn into a decent tackle with some development.
I do wish they would have used a few more of their later picks on some more o-line projects, though. Instead, Pittsburgh chose to go defense with four of their final five picks. That said, defense has always been a main focal point for the Black and Gold. It has allowed them to build a very strong unit over the past few seasons, so I can’t knock them too much.
The Pat Freiermuth pick is the one I’m not quite sold on. If Pittsburgh didn’t have needs along the o-line, I would be fine with it. They have major needs though, especially after the loss of Alejandro Villanueva. Freiermuth will do as much as he can from the tight end position, but with guys like Jalen Mayfield and Brady Christensen still on the board, going in the direction of tackle seems more logical to me.