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2021 NFL Mock Draft: The Steelers select a hybrid linebacker with their top pick

In the latest mock draft, the Steelers continue with the trend of drafting defensive players in the first round.

NCAA Football: Southern Methodist at Tulsa Brett Rojo-USA TODAY Sports

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 profootballnetwork.com, they have the Steelers taking a versatile linebacker. 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 | Zaven Collins | LB | Tulsa | JR |

Still being somewhat early in the draft process, there may be players some fans are not familiar with. If this is the case, here is a breakdown of Collins according to thedraftnetwork.com:

After a high school career in which Zaven Collins was a four-year starter at quarterback and linebacker/safety, Tulsa was the only Division I program to offer him a scholarship. He ended his college career by claiming the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded to the nation’s best defensive player. Collins offers an exciting blend of size, length, power, football intelligence, and versatility that makes him a dynamic prospect for the NFL. Whether it’s defending the run, dropping into coverage, or rushing the passer, Collins has the requisite skill set required to execute and was arguably the most dynamic defensive playmaker in college football for the 2020 season. He demonstrated notable growth in 2020, becoming a complete defender and making high-impact, clutch plays seemingly every week. The Belichick disciples and teams that deploy that style of defense are likely salivating over Collins’ skill set and he projects as an impact defender in the NFL that can make plays in a variety of ways.

Ideal Role: Starting linebacker given opportunities to rush the passer, drop in coverage, play downhill, and in space.

Scheme Fit: Collins projects favorably to a defense that is multiple with its alignments that presents the opportunity for him to unleash the full breadth of his skill set.

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 Collins with their first pick? Or do you feel it’s time for the Steelers to invest a first-round pick on offense? Personally, I want the Pittsburgh Steelers to get the best impact player they can at pick 24. If the Steelers think a defensive player such as Collins is too good to pass up, they probably are. Being the only pick on day one, I’m sure Steelers’ fans will have a lot to stew over for 24 hours wondering what the Steelers were doing before seeing how the rest of the draft plays out. While there are plenty of things that need addressed on offense, it will be interesting to see how high in the draft the Steelers go with these various positions.

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.