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3 players Steelers should take in 2021 NFL Draft to reclaim AFC North

Fansided logo Fansided 4/21/2021 John Buhler
Mike Tomlin talking on a cell phone © Provided by Fansided

The Pittsburgh Steelers have a few opportunities to get better in the 2021 NFL Draft.

After an impressive 11-0 start to the 2020 NFL season, the Pittsburgh Steelers faded fast.

From looking like a team that could win Super Bowl 55, the Steelers struggled in the final weeks before losing at home to the division rival Cleveland Browns in embarrassing fashion on Wild Card Weekend. With Cleveland still rising, the Cincinnati Bengals on the come-up and the Baltimore Ravens still on top, the Steelers have to win in the 2021 NFL Draft to win the AFC North.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 3 players to take to reclaim the division

Adding a tight end could really round out the Steelers' receiving corps

It has been established how well the Steelers are historically when it comes to drafting and developing wide receivers. Seemingly any player they take at the skill-position group flourishes. With Chase Claypool having a monster rookie season out of Notre Dame, it would be advantageous for the Steelers to take his former college teammate Tommy Tremble at No. 87.

Notre Dame has a phenomenal track record when it comes to producing tight ends under head coach Brian Kelly. From Kyle Rudolph to Tyler Eifert to Cole Kmet, there is a chance Tremble could be that next Golden Domer standout at the position. While he was in Kmet's shadow in 2019, Tremble showed he is worthy of being a third or fourth-round pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Tremble leaves Notre Dame with 35 career catches for 401 yards and four touchdowns. While those stats do not jump off the page, Pittsburgh will have to love his 6-foot-4, 248-pound frame. Since he would join a receiving corps that already has Claypool and a returning JuJu Smith-Schuster, Tremble could fit right in with the Steelers' offensive plans as a rookie this fall.

He played multiple offensive line positions at two traditional powers in college

With Maurkice Pouncey retiring after 11 seasons with the Steelers this offseason, it would serve Pittsburgh to address the interior of their offensive line early in the draft. Though he is coming off yet another knee injury, Alabama Crimson Tide standout Landon Dickerson could be a nice piece for the Steelers at No. 55 overall in the second round of the draft. Here is what he could bring.

Dickerson initially played his college ball at Florida State for Jimbo Fisher. He was the first true freshman to start along the offensive line since Seminoles legend Jamie Duke. However, injuries ravaged his time in Tallahassee. After three years at Florida State, Dickerson entered the transfer portal before committing to play for Nick Saban at Alabama. Everything change for him there.

He earned All-SEC Second Team honors in his first year with the program in 2019 playing right guard. Dickerson would kick into center and play that during his redshirt senior season in 2020. Though he tore his ACL in the SEC Championship game vs. Florida, his 11 games before that led to him being a unanimous All-American and took home the Rimington Trophy back to Tuscaloosa.

Yes, you are going to have to take into account his injury-riddled collegiate past. However, Dickerson has thrived in the biggest of stages playing in the biggest of conferences. He is also 6-foot-6 and 325 pounds. Overall, Dickerson is a mentally tough player and one who would fit right into the Steelers football culture. Maybe his championship pedigree will rub off on his teammates?

This is how the Steelers can solve their ongoing running back issues

While it would be cool for the Steelers to go with back-to-back Alabama standouts in the draft with running back Najee Harris in the first round and Dickerson at center in the second round, the guy the Steelers need to take at No. 24 to solve their running back issues has to be Clemson Tigers star Travis Etienne. He would have been the first running back taken in last year's draft.

Etienne decided to return to Clemson for his senior season in 2020. While he did not accomplish all that he set out to achieve, Etienne leaves Dabo Swinney's program as a two-time All-American, a two-time ACC Player of the Year, a three-time All-ACC First Teamer and a national champion in 2018. Etienne will go down as one of the most prolific running backs in ACC football history.

In four years at Clemson, he amassed 4,952 rushing yards on 686 carries and 70 rushing touchdowns. As a receiver out of the backfield, Etienne had 102 career receptions for 1,155 yards and eight additional trips to pay dirt. While Harris was the more dominating runner in college football last year, Etienne's body of work and overall versatility more than speak for themselves.

Though Harris could go as high as No. 18 to the Miami Dolphins, No. 24 will be around the time when Etienne might come off the board. He could go to teams like the Steelers, the New York Jets or the Jacksonville Jaguars with any of their top-40 selections. By adding Etienne, the Steelers will have the production and the star power at running back they have not had since Le'Veon Bell.

Ultimately, the Steelers have to get better on the offensive side of the ball if they want to reclaim their rightful place atop the AFC North standings. Though drafting a quarterback could be an option, keep in mind that Ben Roethlisberger will be the starter for as long as he plays in Pittsburgh. By adding talent around him to elevate his declining play, Pittsburgh can have success.

If Pittsburgh goes offense-heavy with their first three picks in the draft, the Steelers can win big.


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