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NFL Mock Draft: Steelers take best player available, select RB in first round

The Pittsburgh Steelers make waves with their first round selection in the latest mock draft.

CFP Semifinal at the Allstate Sugar Bowl - Clemson v Ohio State Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have several team needs entering the 2021 offseason, and after Maurkice Pouncey announced his retirement this week, center has just sky-rocketed up the team needs list.

Nonetheless, the Steelers have never promoted the draft by position approach, rather they tend to lean on the best player available approach to the selection process. Sure, the picks of Artie Burns and Terrell Edmunds might challenge the best player available theory, but with the Steelers selecting No. 24th overall, they will have plenty of time to see how things shake out.

Recently, I connected with the fine folks at Walk the Mock to take a stab at being the general manager of the Steelers. I did a standard draft, no trades, and saw who was available at pick No. 24.

Based on their rankings, there were a few offensive linemen on the board, but not anyone at center who I felt the team couldn’t target later in the draft process. With that said, the one name which stared me straight in the face was Clemson running back Travis Etienne.

This is when you will hear people talk about taking a running back in the first round. How it isn’t necessary. How there will still be talent there in the mid rounds. But Etienne could be a game changer immediately. Getting the running back will allow the Steelers to target the offensive line in Rounds 2 and 3, where there is still plenty of talent.

For those who don’t know much about the Clemson running back who was selected in my mock draft, check out Etienne’s draft profile, from the Draft Network:

Clemson running back Travis Etienne enters the NFL after a productive college career that resulted in him being the ACC’s all-time leading rusher. His burst and contact balance make him a big-play back that is capable of taking it the distance from any part of the field. While he’s an explosive back, Etienne is disciplined and doesn’t try to do too much and put his team in bad positions. He’s grown wonderfully as a receiver and is a nightmare matchup for linebackers in coverage. The primary area of concern for Etienne is inconsistent results in pass protection. His tape reveals too many instances where he is tardy to diagnose pressure schemes and lacks the technique needed to consistently execute blocks in pass protection. While his vision is sufficient, there are times when he can become too eager pressing the line of scrimmage where more patience and anticipation are needed to maximize his touches. Overall, the grips with Etienne’s game are minor and he has the upside to become one of the NFL’s most dangerous offensive weapons.

Ideal Role: Featured running back that gets plenty of chances to attack the edges and contribute as a receiver out of the backfield.

Scheme Fit: Etienne is a scheme-transcendent back.


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