The age old saying is “Hindsight is 20/20” and looking back is always easy. Going back and doing things over can be an exercise which is both frustrating and fun. The same can be said in the NFL with NFL Draft “re-drafts”. This is where a person(s) go back and look at things with a different lens.
This is exactly what ESPN did with their 2021 NFL Draft re-draft where they went back after the year is almost complete to see what teams might have done differently.
For the Pittsburgh Steelers, they possessed the 24th overall pick in the 2021 Draft, and that means they largely had to wait and see what took place in picks 1-23 before they knew who would be available. In this re-draft, only trades which actually took place were registered, and it certainly was interesting to see how things shook out.
Some teams, like the Jacksonville Jaguars taking Trevor Lawrence and the Cincinnati Bengals selecting Ja’Marr Chase, didn’t see their re-draft change anything from what actually took place in April of 2021. However, for teams like the Steelers they saw their picks change, but not necessarily because they would have changed a thing.
In the ESPN re-draft the experts had the Arizona Cardinals changing their pick of Tulsa LB Zaven Collins to Alabama running back Najee Harris. With Harris off the board, the Steelers were still determined to get a ball carrier in Round 1, and they did so by taking North Carolina running back Javonte Williams.
See what they had to say about the pick...
24. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original pick: Najee Harris, RB
New pick: Javonte Williams, RB
After the way the 2021 season played out, it’s clear the Steelers needed to address the offensive line in addition to adding a top-tier running back to fix the run game. But at the No. 25 overall selection, Harris was already off the board and the premium offensive line help — like center Creed Humphrey — was also gone. Because of that, it makes the most sense to add a running back and address the line with a later pick. Williams had a standout rookie year with 903 rushing yards, four rushing touchdowns and three receiving touchdowns. Harris is still the best running back in the class, but Williams showed capabilities of being a close second.
With the Steelers selecting Williams in Round 1, you now have to wonder what the team will do with the 55th overall pick in Round 2. The Steelers ultimately chose Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth with their actual pick, but in the re-draft Freiermuth was the top pick by the Jaguars to start the second round of the selection process.
So, who did the Steelers end up taking in this re-draft? They address their need at offensive tackle by taking Dillon Radnunz.
See what they said about the pick...
55. Pittsburgh Steelers
Original pick: Pat Freiermuth, TE
New pick: Dillon Radunz, OT
The Steelers’ offensive line needed the most help in the 2021 season, and Radunz would’ve competed for a starting outside job on either side of the line and been a versatile sixth man — all necessities with Zach Banner never returning to form after his 2020 ACL tear. The Steelers’ biggest position of need on the line is still at center, but at this point in the re-draft, the premium talent is gone and aren’t any great mid-tier center who should go this high.
Sure, you can think about the re-draft and what it would be like to have Williams and Radunz on the Steelers’ current roster, but I tend to view these type of articles in a different way. I like to see how the experts view who the Steelers actually drafted, a year later.
In this regard, the Steelers did extremely well in the 2021 NFL Draft, at least with their top two picks.
Najee Harris ended up jumping eight spots to the Cardinals at pick No. 16, and Freiermuth jumped a staggering 22 spots to No. 23, going to the Jaguars.
Not too shabby when you look at it in that regard. Nonetheless, what do you think of the re-draft? Would you rather have the duo re-drafted by ESPN, or the current duo of Harris and Freiermuth? Let us know in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers this offseason.