The Pittsburgh Steelers added nine new pieces to its roster in the 2021 draft. They selected Doak Walker award-winner Najee Harris in the first round to add to their backfield depth. They also landed Penn State tight end Pat Freiermuth along with Kendrick Green in both second and third rounds among others.
Judging from the rest of their picks, the Steelers got more depth, fixed their leadership and shored up areas of need specifically on their running back, center, tackle and edge rusher positions.
One thing the draft class did for the Steelers is keep them in contention in the AFC North. They’re not the most perfect team just yet but they’re arguably better than the team that exited last season. Here are two of the best moves that the Steelers did in this year’s draft:
Drafting Quincy Roche at no. 216 in the sixth round
On day three of the draft, the Steelers selected Roche fresh from the Miami Hurricanes. He’s a low-risk, high-reward replacement for Tennessee Titans linebacker Bud Deupree. Roche was a former AAC Defensive Player of the Year during his time at Temple and is considered as the biggest steal for the Steelers in the draft. The 23-year-old fits in the edge rushers spot for the Steelers, known for his aggressive play and strong rip at the snap.
Steelers’ 6th-round pick Quincy Roche, Miami ED
Highest career pass-rushing grade in the 2021 Draft class (93.0) pic.twitter.com/PG8kUIA2J9
— PFF College (@PFF_College) May 1, 2021
The former Miami star has improved his pass-rushing moves and can handle being around the corner despite his measured athleticism—something needed in today’s pass-obsessed NFL. Roche has the potential to be a standout rush linebacker and has the opportunity to make an impact for the Steelers right away.
Drafting Nejee Harris at no.24 in the first round
The Steelers entered the draft with the goal to fill in starters at several positions in the roster. And they answered by selecting Doak Walker award-winner Harris, who will likely be their starting running back this upcoming season. He might not provide what Derrick Henry did but he can potentially be what Le’Veon Bell once was for the Steelers. Nejee can fill in the major offense piece that the Steelers have missing.
Najee Harris has forced 33 missed tackles on RECs since 2019!
That was 1st among all RBs in college football…
Steelers got a playmaker 💪
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) May 8, 2021
The Steelers needed a young and talented prospect for the team and it makes sense as to why Nejee was selected. He can run the ball effectively with his tremendous speed and make a defensive impact in his rookie year right away. Drafting the Alabama prospect was a good move for the Steelers because not only did they fill the starter role they desperately needed but they also got someone who they can depend on late in the game.
Steelers President Art Rooney II did say that the Steelers will need to improve their running attack this offseason. True enough, they pulled through by using their first four picks to boost their ground game offense. Not only did they select one of if not the best running back in the 2021 draft class but they also added an offensive tackle, center, tight end, linebacker and defensive tackle in this year’s draft.
The Steelers could potentially go back to what they once were—a gritty team that can certainly run with the ball.