The 2021 NFL draft is now less than two months away. With free agency looming followed by the NFL draft in April, the Steelers will have a plethora of decisions and moves to make before making their first draft selection. Because the NFL combine will not be held, pro days are the best option to get player information. It will be interesting to see what limited information ends up being available in regards to draft prospects this year.
When talking about mock drafts or NFL free agency, you have to first identify the team’s main needs for the offseason. Before any gains or losses in free agency, there are some who would like to see the Steelers go with either offensive line or running back with their first-round pick. Others feel tight end or linebacker could be on top of the list. With plenty of chances for the Steelers to shape their roster prior to April, their goal is usually to get into position to draft the best player available rather than target a specific position. When it comes to what position the team will select with their first pick, it is certainly up for debate.
In the latest mock draft by NFL.com, they have the Steelers getting a quarterback some have projected to go as high as the number 2 pick. Since the Steelers could go in any number of directions with their first selection, it is important to look at all the possibilities presented by various mock draft outlets.
Check out the Steelers 24th pick:
24. Pittsburgh Steelers | Justin Fields | QB | Ohio St. | JR |
Justin Fields projects as a franchise quarterback at the NFL level — he offers the blend of throwing ability, athleticism, stature and clutch play that will cause NFL teams to fall in love with his evaluation, even if his 2020 campaign showed some cracks in his play. Fields’ ability as a passer is top shelf when accounting for his natural delivery and how easily he’s proven to be able to throw around defenders or work himself into generating velocity and accuracy when on the move; the Buckeyes embraced rolling pocket with Fields at quarterback to take advantage of his arm strength and the subsequent access he’ll get to all areas of the field as a passer. Fields will kill man-coverage heavy teams with his legs; he’s big, strong and yet still quite dynamic as a runner — so breaking contain and converting third downs with his legs is a large staple of the conflict Fields is capable of putting you into as a player. There’s also plenty of examples of Fields successfully engineering option-based reps in the mesh point between zone read, RPO concepts and extending even to sparing use of the speed option, giving his NFL coordinator the full bag of tricks to create conflict defenders and isolate them in the game plan. It’s what Fields has largely done best. There are instances of overconfidence in his arm and continuing to quicken his process beyond the first read is a needed point of emphasis for Fields to stay “on schedule” and keep his sack totals down, but that is inevitably going to be part of his game that his pro team will have to be ready to live with in the same way it it true for quarterbacks like Deshaun Watson, Russell Wilson and others. Their play can be a double-edged sword at times and so it will be for Fields, who is every bit as physically gifted as those previously mentioned named passers. Fields will need to arrive to a destination that embraces his ability to win with his legs and the QB run game or else run the risk of a bumpy road early on as a starting NFL quarterback; but if he is paired with a head coach or offensive coordinator who can pull the best parts of his college game and implement them in the NFL, Fields has the potential to splash early.
Ideal Role: Franchise Quarterback
Scheme Fit: Hybrid Spread/West Coast Offense with QB power run dynamics
For all you who are preparing yourself for the draft, what do you think of the selection? Would you be on board with the Steelers taking Fields with their first pick? Or do you feel this pick is a little to unrealistic? Personally, while I would not be in favor of the Steelers trading up significantly for Fields, if he falls to them at 24 I am more than fine if they pull the trigger. Because I’ve never looked at him as a realistic option for Pittsburgh, I haven’t dove into all the pros and cons. But if the Steelers feel he is a player worth drafting, especially if they don’t have to give up other capital to do so, then it would be an exciting selection. I’m not holding my breath as I’ve seen Fields mocked as high as the second pick and this is the first I’ve seen him outside of the top 10.
As always, let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and remember these mock drafts are merely speculation and caused to create discussion among the fan base.