Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 bold predictions for the 2021 offseason
The Pittsburgh Steelers began the 2020 season on an 11-game win streak. However, in the final five games, the Steelers wound up going 1-4 and were bounced out in the first round by the Cleveland Browns. Due to some key injuries on defense and virtually no run game, the Steelers collapsed within the final part of the season. The 2021 offseason is huge for Pittsburgh. Not just for next year, but the future as well. Sure, their defense is stacked and will keep them competitive, but with Ben Roethlisberger aging, the front office is bound to find his replacement sooner, rather than later.
Additionally, the Steelers had the worst run game in the league in 2020. James Conner is unlikely to play for Pittsburgh next season. Pittsburgh has a few young running backs on the roster, but none of them was impressive last season. This franchise may select a running back within the first two rounds of the draft.
Furthermore, this franchise will be without Maurkice Pouncey, as he has already announced his retirement. The front office has to acquire a new center, as it’s considered an immediate need after Pouncey’s departure.
The Steelers don’t have the most cap space available, which means most of their acquisitions will likely come from the NFL draft. They play in a very competitive AFC North division, and with the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns threatening to take over the north, Pittsburgh will need to be busy this offseason to retain the top spot. Here are four bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 offseason.
Pittsburgh Steelers Bold Prediction: Re-sign Bud Dupree
Bud Dupree is someone who has played a vital role in this Pittsburgh defense. Although he only played 11 games last season due to injury, Dupree still finished with 31 total tackles, eight sacks, and two forced fumbles. He’s likely going to have many suitors during the free agency period, which means there is a legitimate chance an opposing franchise outbids Pittsburgh.
For the Steelers, it’s in their best interest to keep Dupree on the roster. With TJ Watt already dominating as a pass rusher, keeping Dupree gives Pittsburgh a massive edge on defense. Between the two of them, they accounted for 23 of the 56 total sacks acquired. If this franchise wants to remain competitive next year and beyond, signing Bud Dupree should be considered a priority.
Pittsburgh Steelers Bold Prediction: Draft Mac Jones
Ben Roethlisberger will be entering his 18th season, which means he’s close to retirement. Big Ben didn’t seem like the quarterback we’re familiar with last year. Especially during the last five games of the season. With Roethlisberger’s retirement looming in the near distance, the front office should be selecting a new quarterback to at least compete for playing time with Mason Rudolph next year for a starting spot.
In comes Mac Jones out of Alabama. The NFL prospect capped off an impressive final year, throwing for 4,500 yards and 41 touchdowns. He helped lead the Crimson Tide to a National Championship, and threw the ball to Heisman Trophy winner, Devonta Smith all season long.
Jones seems like a guy who can thrive with a solid supporting cast around him. With a deep wide receiver group and a solid offensive line, Mac Jones has the potential to be a solid quarterback in Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers Bold Prediction: Draft Javonte Williams
The Pittsburgh run game in 2020 was just absolutely pathetic, putting up a putrid 1,351 rushing yards on the year. James Conner began the year looking rather solid but then fell apart as the season progressed. None of the young backs on the depth chart did much when given the opportunity and play-calling for the run game was questionable.
If the Steelers draft Mac Jones, it’s likely their first-round selection. By the time Pittsburgh picks again, both Najee Harris and Travis Etienne are likely long gone. However, this franchise will have the opportunity to draft one of the best running back prospects in this draft class, Javonte Williams.
Williams is a powerhouse in the backfield, as he finished his final year at North Carolina with 1,140 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns. He’s quick and finishes his carries falling forward. Not only is he an excellent runner, but he provides excellent pass blocking as well. He’s a great all-around prospect that could thrive in the Steelers’ offense if he lands there. He’d likely have no problem becoming the immediate starter for Pittsburgh.
Pittsburgh Steelers Bold Prediction: Draft Creed Humphrey
Maurkice Pouncey has retired and the Steelers have to find his replacement. The front office should look no further than Creed Humphrey. He’s projected to be a third-round selection right now, but he has the potential to be the top center in this draft class. Coming out of Oklahoma, Humphrey is being pegged as one of the smartest interior linemen in the draft.
It may take some time to develop Humphrey. However, with the Steelers’ glaring weakness being center, he could be receiving a ton of playing time right away if he’s selected by Pittsburgh. Not only is he a great fill-in for Pouncey, but Humphrey has the potential to be a consistent starter for a long time in the NFL.