We have a bit of a lull now in the NFL calendar. Not much going on for the Steelers until training camp begins. So it’s the perfect time for our seven bold predictions for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2021:
1. Najee Harris will lead the team in total yards from scrimmage:
The more we think about it, the more we believe we are going to see a whole lot of Najee Harris this season. Mike Tomlin loves himself a workhorse at running back. Look no further than the heyday of Le’Veon Bell to see he averaged nearly 300 touches a season when he was healthy. We can except more of the same usage for Harris this season. Add to that the fact that Ben Roethlisberger has basically become checkdown Charlie, and we hope Najee Harris is ready for a monster work load. With all the touches between rushing and receiving he should easily lead this team in yards from scrimmage. This one is a lock.
2. The defense will have a major regression:
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense finished third overall in 2020. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be anyway they can repeat that performance this season. Free agency has stripped them of Bud Dupree and Mike Hilton, while the salary cap cost them Steven Nelson. Now add a murders row of quarterbacks on this year’s schedule, and we are looking at some serious regression from this unit. All this considered, this defense should end up somewhere in the 15-25 range in 2021. We go into this in more detail here…The Steelers defense will not be as good as you think in 2021
3. Pat Freiermuth will get the majority of snaps at tight end:
It wouldn’t surprise us one bit if Pat Freiermuth is the starting tight end for week one versus Buffalo. The limitations of the offense when Eric Ebron is the primary tight end are just too great. This team is hell bent on rebuilding it’s running game, and that is very difficult task when relying on Ebron as a blocker. With the Steelers expected to be in eleven personnel the majority of the time, Ebron will struggle to see the field in 2021.
4. Someone not currently on the roster will be a starter at corner:
We just can’t picture a scenario where the Steelers role out week one with either James Pierre as a starting outside corner, or Shakur Brown playing all the slot corner snaps. Neither of those players is starter-capable at this point in their careers. There are still a few decent free agents out there like Gareon Conley or Brian Poole Kevin Colbert might be interested in. https://www.spotrac.com/nfl/free-agents/cornerback/. Then there’s always the possibility of cuts later on in the off-season. Either way, expect this team to sign a veteran corner to fill out the corner back room.
5. Isaiahh Loudermilk will be a major contributor this season:
The Steelers invested quite a bit in acquiring Isaiahh Loudermilk in the 2021 draft. They traded a future fourth round pick to ensure they got their man. This was a curious move considering most draft experts ranked Loudermilk as a barely draftable type talent. Obviously the Steelers see something in him most don’t. If they are right, there should be plenty of snaps to be had on this defense. Pittsburgh likes to rotate their lineman to keep them fresh throughout the game. When looking at Loudermilk’s competition, well let’s just say he has an easy path to extensive palying time. This player will be the surprise of the Steelers draft class this season.
6. Vince Williams will not make the final 53:
The inside linebacker position is the deepest on the entire roster. The starters are set with Devin Bush and Robert Spillane. Then the Steelers went out and added fourth round pick Buddy Johnson to the mix, almost ensuring him a spot as a backup. The final backup at this position group will certainly have to be a major special teams contributor. With the days of Vince Williams being a special teams demon well behind him, his roster spot may be behind him as well. Barring injury, look for Williams to be among the final cuts this summer.
7. Dwayne Haskins will get significant snaps in 2021:
When you go into a season with a 38 year old quarterback with arthritic knees and a surgically repaired elbow, you better keep the backups ready. Expecting Ben Roethlisberger to stay healthy the entire season is extremely optimistic at best. As far as the backups are concerned, don’t expect much out of Mason Rudolph this season. We are predicting Dwayne Haskins will pass him on the depth chart before this team flies to Buffalo for week one. That in turn means for better or worse, there is a very good possibility we will see significant snaps for Dwayne Haskins in 2021. This is probably our least favorite of the seven bold Pittsburgh Steelers predictions for this season, but one of the more likely to come true.