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5 players the Steelers should avoid in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft

Here are 5 players the Steelers should absolutely avoid in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

Troy v Missouri Photo by Ed Zurga/Getty Images

The only thing that gets talked about more than a good draft pick is a bad one. We all appreciate it when the Steelers can grab a T.J. Watt at the end of the first round, but when that first round pick is an Artie Burns or Jarvis Jones, it often overshadows the many good first round picks in recent memory.

Whether it be because of poor effort, coaching, or schematic fit, we see first round picks each year that never reach their full potential. This year, the prospects that are considered to be more boom-or-bust may slide due to teams having less information on them. Athletically gifted prospects that did not have the greatest tape will also not have a scouting combine to display their talents at and potentially improve their stock.

Most mock drafts have the Steelers drafting an offensive prospect in the first round, but if the they address some of the major needs with at least low-end starters in free agency, one should expect them to leave all options on the table. And with Ben Roethlisberger restructuring his contact, the Steelers are just a couple roster cuts away from being able to make some noise in free agency. We will see if that is the path they take, but I would expect them to make at least a couple moves in the next few weeks.

Listed below are five players that the Steelers should avoid in round one of this year’s draft and reasons why we should avoid them. These are all prospects that have been mocked in the first round at least occasionally. We would obviously want to avoid any projected fourth-round prospects in round one, but we realize that already. This list is made up of only players that could potentially go in the top 20-30 picks.

Landon Dickerson — C — Alabama

I was a big fan of Dickerson when his stock was really low before the 2020 season, but I cannot get on board with taking him in the first round. The biggest reason why is the injury concern. He has suffered four injuries in the past five years, and all of them are lower-body injuries. Only time will tell as to whether injuries become a chronic issue for him in the NFL, but the lengthy injury history in college makes him a risky option in round one. He is the top center in my rankings, but I do not see a huge drop-off in talent from Dickerson in round one to Trey Hill or Quinn Meinerz in round three or four. I would consider taking Dickerson if he were available in the second round, but I would be hesitant to pull the trigger on him in round one.

Gregory Rousseau — EDGE — Miami

Rousseau opted out of the 2020 season, but he was a sack machine in 2019, accounting for 15.5 sacks and 19.5 tackles for loss. The problem with Rousseau is that the stats do not tell the whole story. Several of his sacks were more coverage sacks than anything else, and his motor was not always running at 100% on every down. Mel Kiper, Jr. has eluded to this as well. Rousseau has the versatility to move inside and rush from the interior in certain situations, but 2019 is pretty much the only tape we have on him. He suffered a broken ankle at the beginning of the 2018 season and then opted out this past season. There is definitely a chance that Rousseau becomes one of the game’s top sack artists, but there are still a low of unknowns with him.

Jayson Oweh — EDGE — Penn State

It is hard to ignore a pass rusher that can run a 4.3 in the 40, but there is a lot in Oweh’s game that needs refining. I do believe that his best fit is as a 3-4 outside linebacker, but he gets pushed around in the run game due to a lack of lower-body strength. When he was a down lineman in 4-3 looks, he struggled to get a quick start off the line of scrimmage, but he was much better in that department as a rush linebacker, which is what he would be for the Steelers. Despite the physical tools that he has, he is still raw and probably should have returned to school. He may be worth the risk on day two for a team that employs a 3-4 defense, but he is very boom-or-bust at this point. He may get drafted in round one because of the physical traits, but he is still a year or two away from being an every-down player.

Nick Bolton — ILB — Missouri

Bolton is not a terrible prospect, but round one is a reach for him as well. I think of him as a very poor-man’s Devin Bush. He can cover, play the run, and even blitz a little, but he is somewhat tight in the hips and slow when it comes to processing information. He is not afraid to lay a hit on an opponent, but he will occasionally blow an easy tackle opportunity by taking a bad angle. He has been mocked to the Steelers in multiple mock drafts, but I do not think he is the ideal compliment to Devin Bush. Robert Spillane played better than anyone expected last season. It would be better if he was the third option at inside linebacker, but if he had to start alongside Bush, so be it. He proved last season that he will not be a liability. I have an early second round grade on Bolton, which is why pick 24 is a bit rich for me. The Steelers have bigger needs to address early on.

Liam Eichenberg — OT — Notre Dame

Eichenberg is a bit different than some of the other prospects on this list because he is the furthest thing from boom-or-bust. He will likely be a serviceable left tackle at the very least, but what is his ceiling? Speed rushers can get the best of him because of his inconsistent footwork, and he does not have the athleticism to win with pure strength and talent. He is a solid run-blocker who can get to the second level of the defense, but he is not a mauler that will be consistently moving defenders. In his sophomore and junior seasons, I remember him getting called for several holding penalties after the defender got the quicker first step off the line of scrimmage. Nevertheless, he seemed to be much cleaner in the penalty department in 2020. He deserves to be someone’s second round pick because of his high floor, but I am not sure that he brings enough upside for the Steelers to consider him in round one.

Which of these prospects do you think the Steelers should avoid? Were there any players not mentioned that you think should be avoided in round one of the draft? Be sure to light up the comment section below with your thoughts on this and all things NFL Draft!