The Steelers need to rejuvenate the running game in the 2020 draft
The 2019 Steelers finished the season with the 30th ranked offense in terms of average yards per game. That is awful, there is really no other way to put it. What is alarming to me is the fact that we finished 29th in average rushing yards per game, barely averaging 90 yards per game.
Having grown up watching the Steelers teams of the 1970s, the ability to run the ball effectively was never really an issue except when injuries occurred. While we did have to deal with several injuries throughout the 2019 season, I believe the injuries that forced James Conner to miss 6 games derailed whatever chance we had of establishing and maintaining an effective running game.
I know we had other running backs on the roster, but if Conner was to be the featured running back, it’s a little tough to be featured if you’re not on the field. That is no slight on Conner; injuries happen, but the offense would have been better able to sustain drives and close out games if we had our featured running back.
For this reason, I believe the biggest position of need in the 2020 draft is running back. Now, before we all lose our minds, I realize we drafted Benny Snell in the 2019 draft, but he missed some time as well due to injury.
While I do not think the Steelers will spend a high draft pick on a running back, I do think we will take the best player available when we are on the clock, so to speak, which, at this point, will not be until the second round. The best player available may very well be a running back.
The other issue, in my opinion, with both Conner and Snell is that neither of them is a ‘lightning’ type of running back. The Steelers offense has traditionally had a ‘lightning’ and ‘thunder’ duo at the running back position. In 2019, we had a little ‘lightning’ and mostly ‘thunder’. If there’s a ‘lightning’ back available when we’re on the clock, I think we need to take him. No one is afraid of ‘thunder’ without the ‘lightning’.
Let’s take a look at another position of need.