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Re-Grading Kevin Colbert’s Final Steelers Draft Classes: 2021 NFL Draft (+)



Pittsburgh Steelers 2021 NFL Draft Prospect RB Najee Harris
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris during practice on Feb. 1, 2021 ahead of the 2021 Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala. -- Alan Saunders / Steelers Now

In many ways, the Pittsburgh Steelers were victims of their own success toward the end of the tenure of general manager Kevin Colbert, especially as it pertains to the build-up to the 2021 NFL Draft. The Steelers suffered a huge blow when Ben Roethlisberger was lost for the 2019 season, but still managed to find a way to be .500. Expectations were lowered for a post-injury Roethlisberger, but then the Steelers rattled off a crazy unbeaten streak to start the 2020 season, putting the team firmly into AFC title contention despite a still-flawed roster.

Their playoff loss to the Cleveland Browns that January set the table for a one-last-chance run for Roethlisberger and company. Unfortunately, a pandemic-induced decrease in the salary cap really put the screws to Colbert at a bad time. The team was unable to retain free agents like Mike Hilton, Matt Feiler, Bud Dupree and Alejandro Villanueva. That, combined with starters Maurkice Pouncey and Vance McDonald retiring really opened up a huge number of holes in the Steelers lineup that were nearly impossible to fill with the draft capital available.

Then after the 2021 NFL Draft, things got worse, as veterans David DeCastro and Vince Williams hung up their cleats that summer and Stephon Tuitt never returned from his injury. Looking back, Colbert had nearly and impossible task to complete with the 2021 NFL Draft — spring boarding a rebuild while at the same time plugging a half-dozen major holes to help provide Roethlisberger one last chance at winning.

Those are goals that are infrequently aligned, and it shows in a draft class that looks poorly thought out at this point.

Part I: 2020 NFL Draft

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