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2021 NFL Draft

NFL.com Mock Draft Has Steelers Selecting Michigan OT Jalen Mayfield

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The Pittsburgh Steelers certainly have needs on the offensive line entering the 2021 season, and Daniel Jeremiah of NFL.com has them meeting that need head on in his latest mock draft.

Jeremiah predicted that the Steelers will select Michigan tackle Jalen Mayfield in the mock draft he released on Tuesday.

Mayfield (6-foot-5, 320 pounds) was a three-year letterman at Michigan, but does not have a ton of snaps under his belt as a collegiate. He appeared in three games at left tackle as a freshman in 2018, started all 13 games at right tackle in 2019, when he was an all-Big Ten honorable mention, and made two starts at right tackle in 2020 in an injury-plagued season.

The Steelers are likely to lose starting left tackle Alejandro Villanueva to free agency, but Mayfield’s lack of overall experience and the fact that his most recent playing experience has all been on the right side does not make him seem like a day one fit at that spot.

However, 2020 Week 1 starting right tackle Zach Banner is also an unrestricted free agent as he recovers from ACL surgery and Banner’s replacement, Chukwuma Okorafor, is entering the final year of his contract, so the Steelers certainly have short- and long-term needs at the tackle position.

Jeremiah had the Steelers choosing Oklahoma State tackle Teven Jenkins in the first version of his mock draft, with Mayfield going at No. 20 to the Chicago Bears. He has Jenkins going at No. 29 to the Green Bay Packers in his latest update, which includes new information gleaned from the Senior Bowl.

Jeremiah has Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw, who has also been repeatedly connected with the Steelers, going at No. 19 to Washington in this latest updated. Running back Najee Harris (No. 18, Miami) was also already off the board.

2021 NFL Draft

Kansas RB Pooka Williams’ Biggest Strength is Versatility

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In Lawrence, Kansas, the first pro day of the NFL Draft cycle began as the University of Kansas hosted their pro day. Among the participants was a talented and much-hyped up running back in Pooka Williams. A folk hero of sorts in Louisiana, Williams has been in the spotlight since high school. Williams has been in regular contact with some of Louisiana’s best running backs in recent memory.

“I’ve been talking to those guys since I was in high school,” Williams said when asked if he talked to NFL players Leonard Fournette and Tyron Johnson. “They just told me to keep my head on, I will be special.”

Williams’ versatility, however, was the main draw of the day. NFL teams have asked Williams to play and drill at punt returner, running back, and wide receiver.

“I ran a go ball and a post today at receiver,” Williams said.

In his three years at Kansas, Williams racked up 66 catches for 534 yards and 4 touchdowns. With it, the natural comparisons to Nyheim Hines, Tarik Cohen, and other scat backs have come back, but Williams sees someone else in himself.

“I always admired Reggie Bush,” Williams said. “I always look up to him because I think I play like him.”

Williams harped on his receiving skills as well. When asked what part of his skill set would translate to the next level, Williams exuded confidence in his route running, hands, and the attitude he brings towards the game. That same attitude, built on physicality and grit for a 5-foot-10, 170 pound running back, is something he prides himself on.

“This is a physical game,” Williams said. “I love being physical. I’m not just about to get bullied, don’t matter the size.”

Williams carries that physicality over into pass protection as well.

“Every time I’m on the field, that is my mindset,” Williams said.

Williams reportedly ran somewhere in the ballpark of a 4.42-4.45 40-yard dash on Friday.

The time would be a solid time for Williams, who is being viewed as a multi-faceted weapon of sorts. More so, he is viewed as a three-down scatback with good speed and explosiveness.  Williams projects to a mid-day three pick, somewhere in rounds 5-7 and would best fit in a zone-based running scheme.

Could be an option later on for the Steelers?

It is always possible, but Williams did state that he hasn’t met with the Steelers just yet. Williams has met with the Chiefs and the Saints. He has met with “five-plus” teams. Nine teams were present at Kansas Pro Day on Friday.

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2021 NFL Draft

ESPN’s Todd McShay Mocks Alabama RB Najee Harris to Steelers

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Another day, another mock draft projecting Alabama running back Najee Harris to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

This time it is ESPN’s Todd McShay, who has the Steelers selecting Harris with the No. 24-overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft.

“With James Conner heading toward free agency, the run game could use a punch,” McShay wrote. “Harris is that and more, showcasing speed, size, decisiveness and ball security as a rusher, as well as upside as a receiver and pass-protector. Pittsburgh’s offense fell off a good deal in the second half last season, and the top back still on the roster is Benny Snell Jr., who managed just 3.3 yards per carry last year. Harris averaged 6.0 over four seasons at Alabama, and his 26 rushing touchdowns in 2020 led college football.”

McShay also had the Steelers taking Harris in his first mock draft of the cycle. Sports Illustrated and NFL Insider John Clayton also have Harris projected to Pittsburgh.

Harris was outstanding during his senior campaign in Tuscaloosa, rushing for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns. He also improved as a receiver, catching 43 passes for 425 yards and four more scores in 2020.

Not only did Harris win the National Championships with the Crimson Tide in January, but he was also named a unanimous All-American and awarded the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back.

Selecting Harris would provide a significant boost to the Steelers’ run game, which was the worst in football last season. Pittsburgh averaged just 84.4 yards per game and 3.6 yards per attempt in 2020.

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday, April 29 in Cleveland.

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2021 NFL Draft

CBS Sports Mock Draft has Steelers Taking DE Carlos Basham Jr.

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CBS Sports’ Ryan Wilson has released his latest 2021 NFL mock draft, and has the Pittsburgh Steelers selecting a pass rusher in the first round.

With the No. 24-overall pick, Wilson is projecting the Steelers to draft Wake Forest pass rusher Carlos Basham Jr.

“Basham is a physical freak who reinforced the notion during Senior Bowl week,” Wilson writes. “Consistency will be the key to his success, but he has all the physical tools to dominate.”

Standing at 6-foot-5 and 285 pounds, “physical freak” is certainly an apt description of Basham. Basham recorded 19.5 sacks, 35.5 tackles-for-loss and seven forced fumbles over his career with the Demon Deacons.

He especially shined in 2019, when Basham tallied ten sacks, 18 tackles-for-loss and three forced fumbles. He earned First-Team All-ACC honors for his performance. Steelers Now caught up with Basham at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Alabama.

While Basham was a productive edge rusher at Wake Forest, many draft analysts project him as a 4-3 defensive end. The Steelers run a 3-4, where Basham would figure to slot behind T.J. Watt and would seem to duplicate the role of 2020 third-round draft pick Alex Highsmith.

The 2021 NFL Draft kicks off Thursday, April 29 in Cleveland.

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