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2021 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers select a versatile lineman with their top pick

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers look to bolster their offensive line.

Army v Michigan Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images

The 2021 NFL draft is now a month and a half away. With free agency kicking off 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 usatoday.com, they have the Steelers taking an offensive tackle who could also possibly slide in and play guard. 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 | Jalen Mayfield | OT | Michigan | SO |

Even though the draft process has been going on for a while, there may be players some fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Mayfield according to thedraftnetwork.com:

Jalen Mayfield projects as a high-quality starting offensive lineman at the NFL level. He’s got ample size and athleticism to play in space in pass protection and with just two years of starting experience under his belt, Mayfield is only going to continue to get better with more repetitions. Mayfield showed impressive improvement from Year 1 to Year 2 after facing a murderer’s row of pass rushes in his first season as a starter in 2019, having to block top-50 picks Yetur Gross-Matos and Chase Young while also having to handle other prominent pass rushers such as Anfernee Jennings, Jayson Oweh, Shaka Toney, Terrell Lewis, Khalid Kareem, Julian Okwara, and others. Mayfield endured a baptism by fire as a college starter but the physical tools and raw athleticism were undeniable. Complicating Mayfield’s 2021 projection is an even smaller sample size than the abbreviated 2020 Big Ten season—Mayfield played in just two games this season and will enter the pros with 15 starts under his belt at Michigan. But Mayfield was dominant and looked like a much more refined prospect in 2020; so much so that I’m pushing my chips into the table on this one. I think Mayfield is a high-level right tackle prospect who could be trained to switch sides and play on the left or, alternatively, be left to continue to grow on the right side. His athletic profile and build wouldn’t hinder him from a transition to guard either—in case his small sample size of strong play isn’t sustainable and he struggles at the NFL level on the outside. Given his physical skills and the multiple avenues to get on the field, I’m betting Mayfield ends up a big hit in the pros.

Ideal Role: Starting offensive tackle (could play either side, high-ceiling OG, as well).

Scheme Fit: Scheme transcendent talent.

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 Mayfield with their first pick? Or do you feel the Steelers should look at one of the other offensive tackles who could be available? Personally, I am all for the Steelers investing their top draft pick on the offensive line if that’s the way they want to go. When it comes to which player, or which position, they feel would be best food for them to draft at pick 24, I trust their judgment for the subtleties among the plethora of options in this year‘s draft to decide which one would fit best in Pittsburgh. As many tackles which could be available in the first round, it may come down two the interview process and which players personality and work ethic they covet the most.

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.