History tells us the Pittsburgh Steelers stick to a fairly strict philosophy when it comes to their first round pick. They almost always draft players which Mike Tomlin and/or Kevin Colbert attended their Pro Day, they prefer underclassmen to seniors, and they don’t draft players outside of Power-5 schools.
Considering Tomlin and Colbert have only attended nine different Pro Days, and the list of prospective players shrinks considerably. It shrinks even further when you factor out players that don’t fit the system, and shrinks even more when you cut out all the players that should be off the board before the Steelers pick at No. 24.
When you put it all together, history tells us either Liam Eichenberg, Jalen Mayfield, or Jayson Oweh will be the pick for the Steelers.
Here’s the problem, Eichenberg is more of a day two pick, Mayfield had a bad Pro Day, and an edge rusher would be a head scratching move given the other needs. This leads me question whether or not the Steelers will stick to the usual script. I also wonder if they are throwing smoke screens toward other franchises to conceal their real top target.
For starters, the last time the Steelers had big time interest in a non power-5 school player it was for Houston’s William Jackson III. The division rival Bengals would go on to leap frog the Steelers and take Jackson. Steelers fans know what happened next, and it was a knee jerk reaction pick of Artie Burns. Perhaps the Steelers may be invested in a linebacker, but don’t want the Browns to pull the rug out from under them.
Or maybe they have seen all they have needed on tape and didn't deem it necessary to send out the big dogs to a campus in a COVID-19 affected world. After all, they weren't at either of Tevin Jenkins or Javonte Williams’ Pro Day’s, both of which are seen as top targets for this team.
Or perhaps they've turned their backs on targeting the youngest players and want a more experienced runner in either Najee Harris or Travis Etienne. Either of which could be the top runner in Pittsburgh in 2021.
Bottom line is this, I fully expect the Steelers to select a player they wouldn't typically target in years prior. This draft may be the most unpredictable draft of the Kevin Colbert era, and I think more fans than not will be surprised at the selection on draft night. For the first time in a long time it feels like they could justifiably draft someone at any position, and with flexibility like that they may buck their draft traditions to land the best player available.
But what do you think? Will the Steelers break some of their traditional draft philosophies this year? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.