(Photo by Icon Sportswire by Jordon Kelly/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
In my opinion, the Steelers' top three needs in the draft are at running back, offensive tackle and center, in that order. They need a true bell-cow running back to carry the load at running back, which is something they've desperately missed since Le'Veon Bell played his last year with the Steelers in 2017. The Steelers have ranked 29th or worse in rushing yards per game the last three years, and in 2020 they ranked dead last, averaging 84.4 yards per game.
They also need to revamp the offensive line. They have a big void to fill at center with Maurkice Pouncey retiring in February. Going into the 2021 season with B.J. Finney as the starting center is risky, so I think they need to address the center position at least in the third round. There's also a lot to be desired at offensive tackle, especially at left tackle. Who's going to protect Ben Roethlisberger's blindside in 2021? Chuks Okorafor? Zach Banner, who many consider more of a right tackle?
Alejandro Villanueva is still out there as well as a free agent, but he turns 33 in September and his play noticeably declined in 2020.
That's why I can see the Steelers drafting an offensive tackle high in the draft, possibly even the first round. If the Steelers were to do so, Alijah Vera-Tucker out of Southern California certainly would fit the bill.
Doug Farrar of USA Today Sports tweeted tonight that Vera-Tucker has the Steelers written all over him.
Vera-Tucker has been linked to the Steelers in a lot of mock drafts, along with Oklahoma State offensive tackle Teven Jenkins.
Vera-Tucker played both guard spots and left tackle at USC. This past year he was at left tackle. Many believe he has the potential to play either position at the pro level. Vera-Tucker won the Morris Trophy in 2020, awarded annually to the best offensive and defensive linemen in the conference, as selected by opposing players. Vera-Tucker was also named first-team All-PAC 12 in 2020 and was selected as second-team All-PAC 12 in 2019.
Below is a scouting report on Vera-Tucker by The Draft Network.
"Alijah Vera-Tucker has aligned predominantly at left tackle this season for the Trojans offense. He has exceptional athleticism, as evidenced by his balance and body control in his pass set. He is an easy mover who demonstrates his athleticism in the passing game, particularly in his kick slide. He plays with very good competitiveness when he is bull rushed. In the run game, he comes off the ball hard to strike and he excels by getting his body in favorable positions. He’s played this year at left tackle, affording him much more value due to his ability to play that position in a pinch at the next level."