After starting the 2020 season 11-0, the Steelers fizzled in December, losing four of their final five games, including a 24-22 loss to the Browns in Week 17. At 12-4, Pittsburgh still won the division, but faced Cleveland again in the Wild Card round for the Browns’ first playoff appearance since 2002. Cleveland took a 35-10 lead into the half, and while the Steelers made it close late, they ultimately lost 48-37, meaning Mike Tomlin and co. haven’t won a playoff game since the 2016 season.
Heading into this year’s draft, there have been lots of conversations around Pittsburgh’s need to improve the run game (the team finished last in the league in rushing yards last year). James Conner left in free agency and has since signed with the Cardinals, leaving Benny Snell Jr, Anthony McFarland Jr and Kalen Ballage (a free agency signee) as some of the team’s top names at the position. The Steelers are reportedly eager to draft a running back in the first or second round. Clemson’s Travis Etienne and Alabama’s Najee Harris are likely the top running backs in the 2021 draft class.
Earlier this month, Tomlin stressed that personnel changes on their own won’t be enough to fix Pittsburgh’s issues on the run. “The improvements in the running game go beyond just the acquisition of additional players,” Tomlin said. “We’re capable of performing better than we have, players aside. Schematics, formations, the things that we do to give ourselves a strategic advantage need to be improved and that’s some of the things that we’re working on.”
The offensive line could also be a focus for the Steelers in the 2021 NFL Draft after center Maurkice Pouncey retired earlier this year and Matt Feiler, who played both right tackle and left guard in his time with Pittsburgh, signed with the Chargers.
Click here for the entire 2021 NFL Draft order and keep reading to see who the Steelers take in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL Draft Picks:
- Round 1: No. 24 – Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
- Round 2: No. 55 – Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State
- Round 3: No. 87 – Kendrick Green, G, Illinois
- Round 4: No. 128 – Dan Moore Jr., OT, Texas A&M
- Round 4: No. 140 – Buddy Johnson, ILB, Texas A&M
- Round 5: No. 156 (From DAL through PHI and MIA) – Isaiahh Loudermilk, DT, Wisconsin
- Round 6: No. 216 – Quincy Roche, LB, Miami
- Round 7: No. 245 – Tre Norwood, CB, Oklahoma
- Round 7: No. 254 – Pressley Harvin III, P, Georgia Tech
Check out draft picks for other teams in the AFC North