Could Benny Snell supplant James Conner as the Steelers’ feature RB?
By Tommy Jaggi
I know it might seem like a stretch to write about Benny Snell Jr. possibly supplanting a Pro Bowl running back in James Conner, but is it within the realm of possibility?
Benny Snell was a pick that a lot of Steelers fans enjoyed. He was a bruising, bell-cow back in the SEC, and accounted for a large portion of his teams’ offense.
Snell shares a lot of similarities with teammate James Conner – they are both big running backs that win with power and contact balance between the tackles. Conner and Snell were both major contributors on their respective teams in college, as well as touchdown machines. Both running backs played 39 games in college. While James Conner racked up 56 touchdowns, Snell earned a respectable 48 scores.
Though both running backs are considered big for their positions, their body types are slightly different. Conner stands at 6’1” and weighted 233 pounds coming out, while Snell has a lower center of gravity at 5’10 3/8” and 224 pounds. Both running backs have a desired frame to carry a workload.
Probably the biggest difference separating the two backs is age. James Conner was significantly older coming out of school. On the other hand, Benny Snell was a true Junior who turned 21 at the end of February. Conner will be 25 years old in May. Though they were drafted just 2 years apart, Conner is nearly 4 years older than Snell.
Though I don’t think it is likely that Snell will end up taking Conner’s job in his rookie year, there is still a chance it could happen by default. James Conner has not played a 16-game season yet, and his missed 5 total games in two years – including the playoff game against the Jaguars in his rookie season.
There’s a good chance that, at some point, Snell may be forced into action as a rookie. The tools are all there to be a feature back. Snell will have to prove his worth in the action he sees on the field.
The Steelers aren’t going to just give up on a 25-year old Pro Bowl running back who is one of the most liked players in football. However, if Snell plays well enough, it could be enough to hand him the reigns once Conner’s rookie contract expires.