2021 Steelers Season Recall: NFL Draft concludes with focus on defense
Steel City Underground presents our 2021 Steelers Recall: a look back at Pittsburgh Steelers games and storylines from last season.
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the third and final day of the 2021 NFL Draft without selecting a single player on defense.
During the offseason, it was clear that the team had to improve on its bottom of the league rushing offense and potentially add other weapons around an aging Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback. Therefore, the first four rounds of picks included all offensive players, such as RB Najee Harris, TE Pat Freiermuth and two offensive linemen, Kendrick Green and Dan Moore Jr.
Moore would start off the final day of the draft for the Steelers, as their first of two fourth round picks. With the second selection, the organization finally headed toward the other side of the ball, picking Moore’s Texas A&M teammate, LB Buddy Johnson twelve choices later.
Johnson was a 2020 Butkus Award semifinalist and played an incredible 47 games in college.
With four more picks remaining, the Steelers would continue to lean heavily in areas other than offense.
With no fifth-round pick, anyone still paying close attention to draft coverage would be surprised that the Steelers jumped back into the fifth round, trading for the 156th pick overall from the Miami Dolphins, by sending Miami their fourth-round pick in 2022.
This pick would see the team take Wisconsin DE Isaiahh Loudermilk, who was an All-Big Ten third-team selection and an East-West Shrine Bowl selection.
Continuing with the theme, with the 216th pick overall, the Steelers would select Miami edge rusher Quincy Roche in the sixth round. Roche was the AAC’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 before transferring to University of Miami in 2020.
Two seventh round selections remained as Pittsburgh would pick late in the round, first using the 245th overall choice for “Swiss Army Knife”, as Tre Norwood was called on live TV by head coach Mike Tomlin. The versatile defensive back out of Oklahoma preceded the Steelers final selection, Pressley Harvin III, a punter out of Georgia Tech.
Harvin, taken five selections from the draft’s final “Mr. Irrelelvant” pick, was the nation’s Ray Guy award winner as college football’s top punter: he also tips the scales of specialists at 6-5, 255 lbs.!
Overall, the Steelers used nine draft picks to bolster their 2021 roster, with four apiece used for offense and defense, and the new punter looking to challenge incumbent Jordan Berry in training camp.
As it would turn out, all but Roche would make the final 53-man roster, with over half of the players listed playing at least some role throughout the regular season – and with the top four picks on offense all becoming full-time starters.
Najee Harris would headline the class as SCU’s Rookie of the Year, accumulating 1,667 yards from scrimmage and 10 total touchdowns, while being named to his first Pro Bowl as an alternate, replacing Cincinnati Bengals RB Joe Mixon.