clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Why the Steelers drafting a LB in the first round still makes sense

The thought originally left me scratching my head but there is a realistic shot the Steelers draft a linebacker in the first round

Tulsa v South Florida Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Most Steelers fans would agree the team needs to rebuild its offense starting in 2021. Sure, they have some interesting receiving options, and a couple linemen that could develop into starters, but the rest of the group leaves a lot to be desired. However, there’s a problem with trying to fill these holes in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. There is a real chance the offensive linemen and quarterbacks worth taking in the first round will have already come off the board, and we already know the Steelers views on taking running back in the first round. The organization isn't going to reach on a prospect, and the last time they traded backward in the first round was 2001, so that isn't going to happen either.

We already know the story when it comes to the Steelers drafting linebackers with their first round picks. Five of the last seven first rounders were linebackers, to be exact. Of those picks, only the first of which, Jarvis Jones, was a bust.

Bottom line, they know what they are doing.

When it comes to the 2021 NFL Draft we also have to keep in mind the sheer amount of holes the Steelers are going to have to fill. From multiple offensive linemen, a running back, cornerback, tight end, linebacker, and maybe even dip their toe in the quarterback market. In other words, the Steelers can go a multitude of different ways. The Steelers may also turn to cutting an inside linebacker to become salary cap compliant. That player being Vince Williams who, if cut, would give the Steelers an extra $4,000,000 of relief. If Williams finds himself on the chopping block, you can move inside linebacker to one of the biggest holes this team needs to fill.

The player at the top of the draft board for the Steelers’ top pick could very well be Tulsa’s Zaven Collins. Collins is an inside backer with the ability to also play on the edge. For a team that will almost certainly lose Bud Dupree to the open market, getting someone who can do both would be ideal. His measurable’s are things teams drool over.

Standing 6’4” and tipping the scales at 260 pounds, Collins’ speed resembles someone who's weighs 220 pounds. He’s a sideline to sideline linebacker who excels in a multiple front defense, like the Steelers often deploy. Collins is a heavy hitter, but he is one of the best coverage linebackers in the entire class. To top it off, no one could force turnovers like Collins throughout the entire NCAA last season. It was no surprise he won the 2020 Bronco Nagurski award as the top defensive player in college football.

Other reasons why the Steelers will be high on Collins is he is an underclassman, and just 21 years old. This is something the Steelers have clearly coveted in its draft picks. Another, but much smaller, factor which may make Collins a more likely pick for the Steelers is it would keep him from falling to the Cleveland Browns, who would almost certainly select him if he makes it to their draft position.

If the Steelers end up drafting Zaven Collins, they would have one of the best, young linebacker groups in football. The unit would be the spearhead of this team as it transitions into the next era of Steelers football. Do not fear this team selecting someone on the defensive side of the ball as early as the first round, especially if that player is as talented as Zaven Collins.

What do you think? If the top offensive tackles are off the board when it’s the Steelers turn to pick, should they call Zaven Collins name? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.