It is no secret that the strength of this draft is on the offensive side of the ball. From wide receiver to offensive line, the class is loaded with players who will be able to make significant contributions in year one.
The quarterbacks will always headline the draft, but it is nice to see a strong offensive tackle class for once. We could see as many as eight offensive tackles in round one, although it is more likely that we only see five or six. The same thing can be said for wide receiver. We may only see one or two running backs in the first round, but the depth is as good as it usually is. The same thing can be said for tight end, except it is not a compliment to its depth as it is to running back. It has been several years since we last had a truly deep tight end class, and the trend will not be breaking with this one.
It is not an athletic group of interior linemen, but there are a lot of maulers that could develop into really good starters down the line. There are also a decent amount of college tackles who may move to the inside in the NFL. Jackson Carman is the first one that comes to mind. The upside as a tackle is undeniable, but if he is unable drop a few pounds and become a little more mobile, a move to the interior may be inevitable.
Today, we are ranking each offensive position in the class. Pro days and other pre-draft information will likely shake things up between now and the draft, but here is a look at how I have them ranked currently.
1. Trevor Lawrence — Clemson
2. Justin Fields — Ohio State
3. Zach Wilson — BYU
4. Trey Lance — North Dakota State
5. Mac Jones — Alabama
6. Davis Mills — Stanford
7. Kyle Trask — Florida
8. Sam Ehlinger — Texas
9. Jamie Newman — Wake Forest
10. Kellen Mond — Texas A&M
It seems like the Jets are trending in the direction of trading Sam Darnold and taking Zach Wilson, but it is hard to tell. I still have Fields ever so slightly above Wilson, but it is only because Fields played against better competition. Fields needs to sit a year and get quicker at going through his progressions, but his deep ball accuracy and running ability make him a fun player to watch. Wilson is also a good athlete, but his arm may not be quite as strong as Fields’ yet. He has good touch and can deliver it from a slew of different arm angles.
The gap between Lance and Jones continues to shrink, but I still gave Lance the edge, because I believe his upside is higher if he is given a year or two to sit. The biggest riser in the rankings is Davis Mills, a former five-star recruit who took huge strides in his game this season. He isn’t terribly mobile, but his arm strength and high IQ give him the edge over Trask, who has not sold me on whether he has the pure talent to be an NFL starter or not.
1. Najee Harris — Alabama
2. Travis Etienne — Clemson
3. Javonte Williams — North Carolina
4. Rhomandre Stevenson — Oklahoma
5. Trey Sermon — Ohio State
6. Chuba Hubbard — Oklahoma State
7. Kenneth Gainwell — Memphis
8. Michael Carter — North Carolina
9. Elijah Mitchell — Louisiana
10. Jaret Patterson — Buffalo
Najee Harris very similar to Le’Veon Bell in terms of size and play style coming out of college. He is the most complete running back in the class. Etienne is not a natural catcher of the ball like Harris is, but he improved in that area in 2020. Stevenson had some off-field issues in the past, but he has lost about twenty pounds and become a more balanced running back.
If Sermon was not injured so often, he could have been in the top tier of running backs this year, but a lengthy injury history often outshines talent. Hubbard was phenomenal in 2019, but he regressed as a runner in 2020, and his pass-blocking skills are awful at this point. It is hard to tell whether Gainwell and Carter can be three-down backs or not, but they are very useful change-of-pace options that fit today’s game perfectly.
1. Ja’Marr Chase — LSU
2. DeVonta Smith — Alabama
3. Jaylen Waddle — Alabama
4. Kadarius Toney — Florida
5. Nico Collins — Michigan
6. D’Wayne Eskridge — Western Michigan
7. Rondale Moore — Purdue
8. Amon-Ra St. Brown — USC
9. Rashod Bateman — Minnesota
10. Elijah Moore — Ole Miss
I have Chase barely ahead of Smith, but it could go either way. It really depends which style of receiver you want. Waddle is a burner who has tremendous ability after the catch. Toney has some speed as well, although his hands are not quite as good as Waddle’s. Collins and Eskridge shined at the Senior Bowl, and their tape backs up what we saw in Mobile. Collins is a physical freak who has a fairly complete game, while Eskridge is another speedster who runs good routes and has reliable hands. Moore is similar to the other speed demons, except he hardly played this year and is a little more risky of a pick due to injury.
St. Brown, the bother of Packers receiver Equanimeous St. Brown, is a former five-star recruit who truly blossomed in the abbreviated 2020 season. Similar to former trojan JuJu Smith-Schuster in stature, St. Brown can do everything JuJu can do, but St. Brown has a little more quickness in and out of his cuts and better overall speed than JuJu. Bateman has been compared to Smith-Schuster as well, but concerns about his dedication and character have caused him to slip a little. I dropped him in my rankings simply because he struggled to separate against good corners; however, he reportedly ran a laser-timed 4.39 in the 40 yard dash at the EXOS combine. That should help his draft stock.
1. Kyle Pitts — Florida
2. Pat Freiermuth — Penn State
3. Hunter Long — Boston College
4. Brevin Jordan — Miami
5. Tre McKitty — Georgia
6. Tommy Tremble — Notre Dame
7. Miller Forristall — Alabama
8. Shaun Beyer — Iowa
9. Kenny Yeboah — Ole Miss
10. Nick Eubanks — Michigan
The gap between Pitts and Freiermuth is not very big on my board. I prefer tight ends that can help the run game and block in-line, and Freiermuth can do that at a high level. Pitts is more of an oversized receiver who will be used primarily in the slot in the NFL. Long’s 40 time at his pro day will likely determine how high he will go. He isn’t immune to drops, but he is a solid blocker and makes tough catches in traffic.
McKitty and Tremble were underutilized in college, but they both have the athletic intrigue to warrant a mid round selection. Forristall is the sleeper of the class. He has decent speed, good hands, and good blocking skills. Yeboah is a modern “move” tight end who is going to provide size mismatches in the slot.
1. Penei Sewell — Oregon
2. Rashawn Slater — Northwestern
3. Christian Darrisaw — Virginia Tech
4. Samuel Cosmi — Texas
5. Jalen Mayfield — Michigan
6. Walker Little — Stanford
7. Dillon Radunz — North Dakota State
8. Alex Leatherwood — Alabama
9. Liam Eichenberg — Notre Dame
10. Teven Jenkins — Oklahoma State
This tackle class is exactly what the NFL needs. Sewell is a generational talent at tackle who could be one of the all-time greats when it is all said and done. Slater’s tape against Chase Young in 2019 caught the eye of many talent evaluators, and he has been a projected first rounder ever since. Darrisaw and Cosmi both have tremendous upside, but Darrisaw was a little more consistent, and his frame is more filled out than Cosmi’s.
Mayfield played right tackle in college, but his athleticism may allow him to move to the left side in the NFL. Little was tremendous two seasons ago, but he has hardly played since then, making him a big risk. Leatherwood was realiable for Alabama, but he may be better suited as a guard in the NFL. Radunz and Eichenberg do not have the athletic ceiling of the top five prospects, but they are plug-and-play tackles that can start from day one.
Interior Offensive Lineman
1. Alijah Vera-Tucker — USC
2. Trey Smith — Tennessee
3. Landon Dickerson — Alabama
4. Wyatt Davis — Ohio State
5. Trey Hill — Georgia
6. Creed Humphrey — Oklahoma
7. Quinn Meinerz — Wisconsin-Whitewater
8. Aaron Banks — Notre Dame
9. Josh Meyers — Ohio State
10. Deonte Brown — Alabama
Vera-Tucker lined up at left tackle for USC in 2020, but his best fit is at guard. Speedy edge rushers can get the best of him when he is on the outside. Smith is extremely talented, but he did have blood clots in the lungs a couple years ago. If he clears the medicals, he could be a top 50 pick. Dickerson also has a lengthy history, but he is starting to get some first round buzz. Round one is too rich for me, but there is no denying that he played extremely well for Alabama when healthy.
Hill is an absolute mauler who has enough mobility to get to the second level. I liked him enough to give him the edge over Humphrey, who is a hard-nosed player but is not the most athletic lineman either. Meinerz is another gritty lineman who finishes his blocks and has the versatility to line up at either center or guard. After him, the next three are interchangeable. It is simply a matter of what type of player you are looking for.
Considering that the Steelers will likely be drafting multiple linemen, a running back, and maybe even a receiver and tight end, it is good to get familiarized with some of the best prospects. Which ones are your favorites? Were there any players not mentioned on this list that you think would be good value picks for the Steelers? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on these prospects.