Steelers land game-changing defender in new ESPN mock draft

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Curt Popejoy
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ESPN NFL draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has put out his first 2021 mock draft of the season and you know we had to dig in on the Pittsburgh Steelers pick. Most Steelers fans are in one of two camps. There’s one group that believes the offensive line is the only play in the first round as part of the team’s rebuild.

The other camp is all about drafting Alabama running back Najee Harris. They believe adding an elite back will be the fix for the Steelers run game.

But Kiper went off script and instead opted for Tulsa linebacker Zaven Collins. Here’s what Kiper had to say about the pick.

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-foot-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.

Let me just say, if Collins is on the board, he would be the best player available. Collins can play inside and outside in the 3-4 and is one of the most athletic players in the draft. The Steelers have definite needs at both inside and outside linebacker and Collins has elite potential.

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