The Pittsburgh Steelers have a defense which is riddled with Day 1 and 2 draft picks. Just look at the list of players who were drafted in Rounds 1-3 in their respective draft classes:
That is quite the list. Now, if you go to the offensive side of the ball, the list is much smaller.
Now, not all of the aforementioned players have been drafted by the Steelers, like Haden and Alualu, but the defensive side of the ball has seemingly be the focus of the team for the past several seasons.
The 2021 NFL Draft was different in a lot of ways, and one of those was how the team drafted four straight offensive players in their respective rounds:
Round 1: RB Najee Harris, Alabama
Round 2: TE Pat Freiermuth, Penn State
Round 3: C/G Kendrick Green, Illinois
Round 4: OT Dan Moore Jr., Texas A&M
The Steelers taking four straight offensive players hadn’t been done since 1984 and don’t think players like Ben Roethlisberger haven’t noticed. It isn’t as if the team’s offense has been devoid of talent, but it has been a while since the draft has been more offensive focused in the early rounds.
“It’s been a while since we have gotten so many weapons early on offensively. Guys look great, but we are in shorts and t-shirts and we are still waiting to see what some of the guys can do. What I have seen so far has been really impressive. Knowledge of the game of football, picking up the offense already.” Roethlisberger told the media via Zoom. “These guys came in for rookie minicamp and haven’t left. To have the repetition with those guys, to communicate with them, to talk to them whether it’s at a locker, on the field, I am excited about the group we have in here.”
Having all these new players on the offensive side of the ball is something Roethlisberger isn’t used to, but having a new stud running back behind him in Najee Harris is another welcome addition to the veteran quarterback.
Roethlisberger spoke about Harris Tuesday during his media session.
“He is a really hard worker. He is in here extra-long hours. I think the other day the running backs coach (Eddie Faulkner) told him I have to go home now. That just shows he is still in there watching film. He is constantly asking questions. That is good. He doesn’t seem lost. It’s not like it’s too big for him. His head isn’t spinning. He is asking questions and that is good. He is playing fast. The most exciting part about Najee, that we are all going to be excited to see, once he gets it, it clicks and he goes full speed, man it’s going to be something to see.”
Roethlisberger hasn’t had a superstar running back since Le’Veon Bell left the team, and Harris could provide the balance the Steelers need on the offensive side of the ball. But getting contributions from those top three picks will be key to the team’s offensive success, or failure.
The Steelers are in the midst of their second week of Phase III of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the rest of OTAs, mandatory minicamp and Training Camp.