With the 23rd pick, the Jets built up their defense in anticipation of Robert Saleh’s new scheme. The Steelers reportedly are locked into a few options at 24.
At pick 23, the Jets picked Asante Samuel Jr., the CB from Florida State. Cornerbacks went back to back at 22 and 23 as Joe Douglas continues to rebuild the Jets. After strengthening the defensive line and wide receivers in free agency, the Jets didn’t address their cornerback group. It was imperative they used an early pick on the position and Samuel will be a day 1 starter barring any further free veteran signings.
The Steelers are on the clock at 24 and are reportedly locked in on three players. Speaking on Pittsburgh radio station 93.7 The Fan, Tony Pauline of ProFootballNetwork.com says his sources have told him the Steelers are looking at Najee Harris, Landon Dickerson, and Teven Jenkins with the 24th pick. The Steelers’ draft philosophy is to draft the best player available at a position of need, so it’s no wonder they’ve zeroed in on these three.
James Conner is now in Arizona, leaving the Steelers without a bell-cow back. Harris would be a fantastic fit in Pittsburgh and give the team the dynamic presence they’ve been missing in the backfield since Le’Veon Bell left. In Dickerson, the Steelers would have their replacement for Maurkice Pouncey, their mainstay at center who retired this offseason. Dickerson will need to prove he can stay healthy but his leadership and versatility at guard and center will be a welcome presence on any team.
The Steelers would certainly love to get a tackle here, but with Jenkins gone in our mock, they’ll need to look elsewhere. After Bud Dupree left in free agency, the Steelers will need depth on the edge and could look at Azeez Ojulari or Jayson Oweh to slot in behind T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith as the third edge rusher. We’ll take a look at the first 23 picks and then check out the Steelers’ options.
- Jacksonville Jaguars – Trevor Lawrence, QB, Clemson
- New York Jets – Zach Wilson, QB, BYU
- San Francisco 49ers – Justin Fields, QB, Ohio State
- Atlanta Falcons – Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida
- Cincinnati Bengals – Penei Sewell, OT, Oregon
- Miami Dolphins – Ja’Marr Chase, WR, LSU
- Detroit Lions – DeVonta Smith, WR, Alabama
- Carolina Panthers – Rashawn Slater, OT, Northwestern
- Denver Broncos – Trey Lance, QB, North Dakota State
- Dallas Cowboys – Patrick Surtain, CB, Alabama
- New York Giants – Micah Parsons, LB, Penn State
- Philadelphia Eagles – Jaylen Waddle, WR, Alabama
- Los Angeles Chargers – Christian Darrisaw, OT, Virginia Tech
- Minnesota Vikings – Alijah Vera-Tucker, OL, USC
- New England Patriots – Mac Jones, QB, Alabama
- Arizona Cardinals – Jaycee Horn, CB, South Carolina
- Las Vegas Raiders – Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
- Miami Dolphins – Kwity Paye, EDGE, Michigan
- Washington Football Team – Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, LB, Notre Dame
- Chicago Bears – Caleb Farley, CB, Virginia Tech
- Indianapolis Colts – Jaelan Phillips, EDGE, Miami
- Tennessee Titans – Greg Newsome II, CB, Northwestern
- New York Jets – Asante Samuel Jr., CB, Florida State
The Steelers will look to bolster their pass rush or revitalize their run game at pick 24.
Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
A good bet to be the first running back taken in 2021, Harris was the bell-cow back for the Crimson Tide for the last two years. He’s a big back capable of running over or around defenders (or even leaping over them). Harris is also an adept receiver out of the backfield, as he caught 70 passes combined in the past two seasons. He projects as an every-down back capable of starting on day one.
Landon Dickerson, C, Alabama
As the heart and soul of the top offensive line in the country, Dickerson was awarded the Rimington Trophy and named first-team All-American as the nation’s top center. At 6-foot-6, 333 pounds, he’s a mountain of a man with the capability to open up holes in the second level. He does have an injury history, including a season ending ACL tear this past season, which kept him out of the College Football Playoff. He could struggle with more athletic rushers but his base is strong enough to ward off most bull rushers. His leadership versatility at both guard and center will be attractive to many teams.
Azeez Ojulari, EDGE, Georgia
The Bulldogs keep producing quality edge rushers from their 3-4 defense, and Ojulari is the latest in that line. He leaves Athens after a redshirt sophomore year that saw him accrue 9.5 sacks, 12.5 tackles for loss, and four forced fumbles in just ten games. Three of those sacks came in Georgia’s bowl game against Cincinnati. With excellent speed and functional strength, he looks to have all the tools to turn into a top-flight pass-rusher, and given his youth, he has a tremendous ceiling. He just may need to add some bulk over time to hold up in the run game.
Jayson Oweh, EDGE, Penn State
Of all the edge rushers in this draft, Oweh may be the most athletic. While he didn’t record a sack in 2020, Oweh finished with 6.5 tackles for loss and was voted first-team All-Big Ten. The tools are not all there yet, but Oweh only played 20 games in college and didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. At 6-foot-5, 257 pounds, he has the strength and speed to be a situational rusher from day 1. Oweh does not have many pass rush moves in his arsenal and will need to develop counters to what he’ll see in the league. He may be too raw to make a real, every-down impact in his first season, but teams will be salivating over the possibilities down the line.
With the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Steelers select…
The Steelers will be charged with replacing beloved franchise figures like Maurkice Pouncey and James Conner this draft. They will likely have their pick of the top running backs in the class should they go that direction. Check back tomorrow at 11 AM EST to see who they pick and to see the Jaguars’ options at 25. Then, at 4 PM EST, we’ll take a look at who the Browns will pick at 26 as they look to improve on their first playoff season since 2002. Be sure to vote here and on Twitter @acmepackingco.