(Photo by G Flume/Getty Images)
As the draft process moves along, as well as the NFL Offseason. We gain more clarity in terms of what the Pittsburgh Steelers’ depth chart may look like. I used Pro Football Network’s mock draft simulator to help regulate the likeliness of a player’s availability. Round 1, Pick 24: Pat Freiermuth, TE, Penn State This may shock most readers, but hear me out. First of all, Mike Tomlin has all but cemented Zach Banner as the team’s left tackle. That alone makes me want to shy away from the position this early. If you’re still reading through the rage, thank you. This is a player who helps the Steelers’ offense in multiple ways. The Steelers had their share of drops all season long. According to Pro Football Focus, Freiermuth did not drop a single pass in the red-zone in his three seasons with the Nittany Lions. Many will want some blocking help on the offensive line and very understandably so. This tight end can block, and can block very well. He has a very nasty-aggressive side to his play and it extends through his blocking. After a few games, it is easy to witness the amount of defenders who were put on their backside. He can inline-block and also edge block. After the catch, the former Nittany Lion is a menace. He can go around defenders, or force his way through them. Before the catch, he can create space and separation through nuance and high football IQ. Tight ends have a very tough time making the transition to the NFL to make an early impact. I think Freiermuth has the tools and potential to not only make a smooth transition, but he can start week one and he can become a top-12 tight end in the NFL by season's end. Other players on the board considered: OT Tevin Jenkins, LB Zaven Collins, CB Ifeatu Melifonwu Round 2, Pick 55: Javonte Williams, RB, University of North Carolina Williams very well can end up being the best running back in this draft class. Art Rooney has expressed his displeasure with the run game in 2020 and I think Javonte Williams can create an uproar as the Steelers’ new lead back. Williams can score at any time, from anywhere. The explosiveness, coupled with his athleticism and knack for breaking tackles makes the former Tarheel especially dangerous. An aggressive style of running makes Williams tough to tackle. Owning a skillset that has excellent vision, decisiveness and willingness to hit holes hard make it tough to get him to the ground for a loss and gives defenders less time to make up ground to get near him. A few concerns with Williams, and neither are glaring, include his lack of involvement in the pass game and the consistency as a pass blocker. Williams had to share the backfield with another great runner in Michael Carter, who also caught 25 passes in 2020. There is room for improvement as he gains experience. As a pass blocker, would like to see his technique improve as well as taking on bigger players. These issues are easily correctable with coaching and experience. Round 3, Pick 87: Jack Carman, OT, Clemson With Alejandro Villanueva likely leaving Pittsburgh in free agency, the Steelers will need to secure some depth at the position. Mike Tomlin has all but cemented Zach Banner at the left tackle position, but some competition and long-term depth is needed. Carman is a big, sturdy player who is excellent and reliable in the run game. As big as he may be, getting to the second level is something the Clemson product does regularly. As a pass blocker, Carman is reliable, but quicker pass rushers can get the best of him. Slimming down from 335lbs could be beneficial for him. As an anchor, the former Tiger is very tough to elude once he gets a grip. Other players on the board considered: LB Chazz Surratt, WR Tylan Wallace, OC Quinn Meinerz
Round 4, Pick 121: Trey Hill, OC, Georgia
With Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement and only JC Hassenauer on the roster, the Steelers must address the center position this offseason. Hassenauer is not a viable season-long option.
Hill has experience at both guard and center and we know how much versatility is valued on the offensive line. A true mauler in the run game who can get to the second level
Other players on the board considered: QB Jamie Newman, LB Tony Fields, WR Seth Williams
Round 4, Pick 142 (Projected Compensatory selection): Robert Rochell, CB, Central Arkansas
Joe Haden could be a cap casualty, or if not, is only a short-term solution to the cornerback position. Rochell is a tremendous athlete. According to Pro Football Network, Rochell’s numbers were colorful: “4.38 40-yard dash time, 41-inch vertical jump, 140-inch broad jump, and 3.98-second short shuttle time, all at 6-foot-1, 197 pounds.”
Rochell is a physical player, but that can get him into trouble with penalties, especially in press coverage. If he can get coached to sure up this inconsistency, he could be extremely effective.
The shockingly high football IQ is a very fresh aspect of his game. Recognizing route concepts, not biting on double moves and has excellent instincts. The ability to click and close on routes and in tackling situations is a valuable trait that the Central Arkansas product possesses.
Other players on the board considered:EDGE Duke Dimukeje, LB Monty Rice, WR Shi Smith
Round 6, Pick 217: Marlon Williams, WR, UCF
I’m predicting that JuJu Smith-Schuster is playing football somewhere other than Pittsburgh in 2021. This has no inflection on my personal wishes, but a practical opinion. The Steelers can bring in a receiver that is another ‘big slot’. Williams contributed as a wide receiver, a wildcat quarterback and a kick returner.
Other players on the board considered: S Tariq Thompson, DT Khyiris Tonga, LB Justin Hilliard
Round 6, Pick 225: Jamar Johnson, S, Indiana
The Steelers desperately need to address the safety depth, which has been abysmal for years. Johnson can play free or strong safety and can also cover the slot. The versatility is extremely attractive as a prospect. The former Hooser needs to clean up his tackling technique but he is a willing tackler.
Other players on the board considered: DT Lorenzo Neal, OG Tommy Kraemer, P Drue Chrisman
Round 7 Pick 225: Syrus Tuitele, OL, Fresno State
Tuitele can play any position on the offensive line, that alone has high value. The Steelers could stand to add an offensive lineman who can be a swing tackle, or guard. Tuitele projects to be a guard in the NFL. We know Tomlin likes to use an extra offensive lineman in formations, Tuitele can fit the mold. Injuries have hampered his career thus far.
Other players on the board considered: EDGE Tarron Jackson, LB Grant Stuard, P James Smith
R1: TE Pat Freirmuth
R2: RB Javonte Williams
R3: OT Jack Carman
R4: OC Trey Hill
R4: CB Robert Rochell
R6: WR Marlon Williams
R6: S Jamar Johnson
R7: OL Syrus Tuitele