Updated: Apr 29
(Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Most mock drafts have the Steelers selecting either a running back or offensive lineman in the first round. However, the inside linebacker position is starting to gain some traction, as well.
According to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, a source with knowledge of the dynamics driving the 2021 draft tells PFT that the Steelers are expected to take Harris or Collins if either is available at 24th overall. Florio also mentioned that the Cardinals are expected to take Collins at No. 16 if cornerbacks Patrick Surtain II and Jaycee Horn and receiver Jaylen Waddle are gone.
In addition, Bucky Brooks of NFL.com has the Steelers selecting inside linebacker Jamin Davis of Kentucky at 24th overall in his 3.0 mock draft.
Below is Brooks' explanation on why he believes the Steelers will pick Davis in the first round.
"Adding speed and athleticism to an already-fast defense would give the Steelers a decided advantage over opponents opting to spread it out. Davis is a playmaker with instincts, awareness and ball-hawk ability."
Davis has risen as of late on a lot of boards, as many believe he has a ton of upside with the athleticism that he displays. Like Collins, Davis would pair well with Devin Bush at the inside linebacker position and would give the Steelers two inside linebackers that both can play the run and drop back in coverage.
Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert spoke about the inside linebacker position at their pre-draft press conference on Monday and how much the position has changed over the years.
"You know, in terms of the physical makeup of the linebacker position, I think it's been widespread in college ball prior to evolving and becoming more widespread in our game," Tomlin said. "I believe it's probably less of an issue now, to be quite honest with you. I think it was a significant discussion when we drafted Ryan Shazier, and he was kind of an outlier or precursor to what's a common discussion now, a guy capable of running with anyone and covering and playing in all circumstances."
Colbert had similar remarks as Tomlin.
"Yeah, I agree with what Coach said," Colbert said. "The game has changed. It's more horizontal, and Ryan was ahead of the curve when we took him. You've got to keep pace with what's going on and what we have to defend in this league. But it's not different from what's going on at the college level. It used to be, in the old days, 'Who could take on that fullback?' Well, there are no fullbacks now, for the most part. 'Who could take on a guard?' Well, most of the time, they're running past that guard instead of taking them on. So we value that."
Below is a scouting report on Davis by The Draft Network.
"Jamin Davis projects as a WILL linebacker at the NFL level and appears to have the ceiling of an NFL starter. Davis is long, rangy, and explosive and that correlated to several big plays in the passing game throughout the course of Kentucky’s 2020 campaign. Davis exploded onto the scene in 2020 and wasted little time making the leap to the NFL, but his lack of high volume sample size as a featured player is cause for buyer beware. There’s plenty of untapped potential in Davis’ game and his length flashes to deconstruct blocks while he also showcases the processing power after the snap to duck under blocks and spill opposing ball-carriers into pursuit. But he has yet to master a feel of scraping through traffic and his overall quickness and confidence in decision-making leaves the door open for confident passers and ball-carriers to exploit small creates caused by his delay. Davis has very good range and long speed that will draw the attention of NFL decision-makers—as second-level speed is at a premium right now due to league trends."