Steelers Mock Draft 3.0: Time To Welcome Another Great Pittsburgh Linebacker?

That it is, DJ. That it is indeed. 

I, like most of you, last night and this morning have spent plenty of time already getting my fix of the NFL even after the 2020 season ended in Tampa through the addicting habit of mock drafts. 

As promised, every two weeks or so I will update you on who folks in the "know" are eyeing the Steelers to grab at 24 for the time being. So far we've seen heavy on offensive line (as expected) and even...a surprise quarterback pick

Let's get into 3.0:

Barstool Sports' Steven Cheah: Najee Harris, RB - Alabama

"The Steelers have a ton of holes, but if Big Ben is coming back for one more year, they'll need to be able to run the ball. Harris represents a huge upgrade at the position as they finally have a bell cow that can put them in better positions."

Again, do I love RB at 24? No. Do I hate it? Also, no. It just would have to be the scenario where the top tackles are already off the board and they don't trade up to try to get their next guy at QB. Najee Harris is a stud, and I'd love to see him in the black and yellow but only if the above situations are the case. 

Bleacher ReportAlex Leatherwood, OT - Alabama

"Alabama's Alex Leatherwood is the reigning Outland Trophy winner. He's not the most fluid athlete, but he's been well-coached with the length necessary to ward off pass-rushers. He could immediately step in to protect Big Ben's blind side.

Have to feel good about a big fella from Alabama, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa. Would gladly take this pick and walk away feeling like the Steelers got a steal at 24 with a day one plug and play starter at left tackle. 

PFF: Zaven Collins, LB - Tulsa

"Collins is made to play in any blitz-heavy defense, and few are willing to send the house as often as the Steelers. The 6-foot-4, 260-pound linebacker can also shut down passing lanes in zone coverage, as he picked off four passes in 2020"

This may surprise some folks because we've talked so heavily about offensive line or either finding Big Ben's replacement, but linebacker was quite the downfall of the Steelers in 2020. After Devin Bush went down after week 6 with a torn ACL we saw Robert Spillane then when he went down we had to turn to a safety converted to linebacker Marcus Allen. Depth was a problem. And as we saw Sunday night in Tampa with Devin White and LaVonte David, linebackers are important and can be wreckers. 

For those unfamiliar here's some Collins highlights from this past season:

Pro Football Network: Teven Jenkins, OT - Oklahoma State

His game translates seamlessly to the almost instant passing attack of the Steelers. He sets quickly, strikes efficiently, and gets the job done. His vertical pass sets aren’t fully developed, but until the corpse of Ben Roethlisberger retires, he won’t have to worry about long-developing passing plays very often.

Sheeesh shots taken at Big Ben any chance you can get. Corpse? Ok. Anyways, sticking with the theme of adding to that O-line rebuild and depth. As important as Devin White and LaVonte David were for Tampa what was even more important was the lack of pass protection for Patrick Mahomes on Sunday night. We've seen Tristan Wirfs, Jedrick Wills come into the league and be really, really good players from day one this past season. 

Hopefully that'd be the case with Jenkins or Leatherwood, too. 

Mel Kiper Jr: Zaven Collins, LB - Tulsa

"Pittsburgh lost five of its last six games after starting 11-0, and holes were exposed, particularly after edge rusher Bud Dupree tore his ACL in early December. And with Dupree now a free agent, this would be a pick to grab a replacement. Collins is a do-everything linebacker who had four sacks, four interceptions (two for TDs) and two forced fumbles on the way to winning the Nagurski Award last season. At 6-4, 260 pounds, he could slot into Dupree's position and excel at getting after quarterbacks or dropping into coverage to confuse offensive coordinators. Collins is a really intriguing chess piece for a smart defense. The Steelers could also think about offensive line with this pick."

Dude is big and can do a lot of different things. Him added to Vince Williams, a healthy Devin Bush, TJ Watt, and Alex Highsmith provides a lot of athletic, physical, playmakers at linebacker.