The 2021 NFL regular season is directly on the horizon, and many are wondering just what might become of their favorite team. The best part about this time of year is just how hopeful all fans are. It doesn’t matter the team, most fans are brimming with hope. Maybe it is just hope of improvement, while others might be hoping for a Super Bowl championship.
Regardless, hope springs eternal for football fans, and that includes Pittsburgh Steelers fans. But that hope might wane a bit after reading a recent article by ESPN where they took at stab at projecting the 2022 NFL Draft order.
On the surface, this is a harmless practice, but if you look deeper you can see more than just what these writers are thinking about teams in the 2021 season. In case you didn’t know, the draft order is based solely on the team’s performance the previous season. There is no lottery system in the NFL.
So, how do the writers see the Steelers shaping up in 2021? Well, let’s just say they are projecting them to struggle. How much? Try to the tune of Mike Tomlin’s first losing season since being hired in 2007. Tomlin has finished 8-8 on more than one occasion, but with the 17th game added this year, .500 is no longer an option. With that said, ESPN predicts the Steelers to fall flat after a 12-4 season, and finish 8-9.
Where does that have them landing in the 2020 NFL Draft order? Try picking 13th overall.
Some fans might find pleasure in seeing this, considering many are pining for the next franchise quarterback, but most fans would be dejected knowing their favorite team didn’t have a shot at a ring in 2021.
Check out the full projected draft order, according to ESPN:
2022 NFL Projected Draft Order (Projected 2021 Record)
1. Houston Texans (5-12)
2. Detroit Lions (6-11)
3. New York Jets (6-11)
4. Jacksonville Jaguars (7-10)
5. Philadelphia Eagles (7-10)
6. Cincinnati Bengals (7-10)
7. Las Vegas Raiders (7-10)
8. New York Giants (7-10)
9. Atlanta Falcons (7-10)
10. New York Giants (via Chicago) (7-10)
11. Carolina Panthers (8-9)
12. Arizona Cardinals (8-9)
13. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-9)
Average draft position: 15.7
FPI chance to earn No. 1 pick: 1.2%
FPI chance to earn top-five pick: 10.7%
Stat to know: The Steelers had the fewest total rush yards (1,351) and fewest yards per rush (3.6) in the league last season. They selected former Alabama RB Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 draft. It was the first time the Steelers have drafted a RB in the first round since taking Rashard Mendenhall 23rd overall in 2008.
14. Washington Football Team (8-9)
15. Los Angeles Chargers (9-8)
16. Denver Broncos (9-8)
17. Minnesota Vikings (9-8)
18. New Orleans Saints (9-8)
19. Philadelphia Eagles (via Indianapolis) (7-10)
20. Dallas Cowboys (9-8)
21. Philadelphia Eagles (via Miami) (7-10)
22. New England Patriots (9-8)
23. Tennessee Titans (9-8)
24. New York Jets (via Seattle) (6-11)
25. Detroit Lions (via LA Rams) (6-11)
26. Miami Dolphins (via San Francisco) (9-8)
27. Cleveland Browns (10-7)
28. Green Bay Packers (10-7)
29. Baltimore Ravens (10-7)
30. Buffalo Bills (11-6)
31. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (11-6)
32. Kansas City Chiefs (12-5)
If you do the math, you see ESPN predicting a repeat of last year’s Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Buccaneers, but with the Chiefs getting the best of Tom Brady and the boys. What do you think of all this? Think their projection is legitimate, or are they reaching? Let us know what you think in the comments below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the regular season.