Running back is no longer considered a position to be filled with a first-round draft unless it is an obvious Pro Bowl talent. But while the Steelers’ worst rushing total in the league of 1,351 yards in 2020 could at least in part be explained by offensive quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was in operation, the team was ineffective when they decided to run the ball. Pittsburgh’s 3.6 YPC average was also the worst mark in the NFL, so it’s clear a bigger upgrade is warranted.
Three year old starter James Conner Recently signed with the Cardinals, and while receiving a humble contract from Arizona, the Steelers are reworking – renewing their hasty attack under the new OK Matt Canada and new orienteering trainer Adrian Klemm – just wanted to go in a different direction. Plus, Conner isn’t exactly the explosive player Pittsburgh believes can land in the draft.
With the # 24 overall pick, the Steelers should have at least one of the top two RBs in this year’s draft: Alabama’s Najee Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne. Harris is a strong runner who is just as effective between tackles as he is on the sidelines, and he has become a dependable receiver over the course of his college career. Etienne, meanwhile, is at risk of abandoning a big game if he touches the ball, and he would make an excellent pawn for Canada trying to take advantage of cheap matchups against opposing defenses.
Dulac says if the Steelers pass an RB in the first round, they’ll surely grab one in the second. The top prospects for Day 2 include UNCs Javonte Williams – who is unlikely to fall 55th on Pittsburgh’s pick in the second round – his colleague Tar Heel Michael Carter and the Ohio State Trey Sermon.