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3 Players Steelers Should Pick Instead of Najee Harris in 2021 NFL Draft

Max Staley
Three players the Pittsburgh Steelers should select in the first round instead of Alabama's Najee Harris.
Three players the Pittsburgh Steelers should select in the first round instead of Alabama's Najee Harris. / Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers are traditionally one of the most physical, hard-nosed franchises in the NFL. That identity was historically rooted in a dominant rushing attack. But that all changed last season. The Steelers had the NFL's least productive rushing game in 2020, generating 1,351 yards.

That has led many to speculate that Pittsburgh could be targeting a running back, likely Alabama's Najee Harris, in Round 1 of the 2021 NFL Draft.

But putting a first-round RB behind an offensive line this bad is like leasing a Ferrari while living in your parents' basement. It's a luxury the Steelers can't afford.

Here are three players Pittsburgh should target at No. 24 instead of Najee Harris.

Steelers Rumors

3. Kyle Trask, QB, Florida Gators

With no clear-cut succession place in plan for Ben Roethlisberger, drafting a James Conner replacement before landing Big Ben's heir apparent would be football malpractice. Pittsburgh is almost certainly going to miss out on the top-five passers in this class, barring a shocking fall, but the next tier of signal-callers is pretty intriguing. Of that group, which includes names like Kellen Mond, Davis Mills and Kyle Trask, the Florida QB feels like the best fit. The tough, 240-pound passer has drawn a lot of comparisons to Roethlisberger and could be a fixture in Pittsburgh for years to come.

2. Alijah Vera-Tucker, OT/OG, USC Trojans

If it's not a quarterback, the Steelers should absolutely address the offensive line. No projected starter on Pittsburgh's offensive line received a ProFootballFocus grade above 66.2 in 2020, and that unit lost Maurkice Pouncey and Matt Feiler this offseason. Though the two tackle spots are the most pressing issue, the interior of this line needs some upgrades as well. That should make USC's Alijah Vera-Tucker a very intriguing option. The 21-year-old offensive lineman is one of the most polished and versatile prospects in this class, as he can play either guard or tackle at the next level. His versatility should allow Pittsburgh to get creative as they look to rebuild the O-Line over the next few seasons. Alabama's Alex Leatherwood offers the same positional versatility and could be a target as well, though he might be a bit of a reach at No. 24.

1. Teven Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State Cowboys

Pittsburgh is set to start Chukwuma Okorafor, who finished 70th out of 79 qualifying tackles (per PFF) at LT. Bookending him at RT is Zach Banner, who has never played more than 216 snaps in a single season. Simply put, Pittsburgh cannot afford to come out of this draft without adding a stud tackle. Teven Jenkins certainly fits the bill. Jenkins plays like an old-school Steeler. The 23-year-old tackle is a straight up mauler who regularly destroyed opponents while blocking at Oklahoma State. He's the rare offensive line talent that can turn a block into a highlight-reel play. That's the hard-nosed, physical identity this team needs to reclaim. If a tackle like Jenkins isn't the pick at No. 24, Pittsburgh is making a huge mistake.

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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.