The Steelers need help at multiple positions this offseason. Here are four running backs who could be worth taking in the second round of the NFL Draft.
Say what you want about James Conner, but the fact of the matter is that it’s going to be very difficult to hand him a large contract after next season. Conner has missed time in all three of his seasons with the Steelers, and it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to count on him when it matters.
Benny Snell proved to be a decent option out of the backfield as a rookie, but the former fourth-round draft choice lacks the speed and agility to be an every-down, feature back. There is no question that Pittsburgh has plenty of needs on offense and a with Conner, Snell, and Jaylen Samuels already on the roster, drafting a running back late this year would seem pointless./
However, the Steelers may be able to find a feature running back in the second round of the 2020 NFL Draft. Here are four players who may be worth drafting when pick 49 rolls around:
Clyde Edwards-Helaire, LSU
Clyde Edwards-Helaire is drawing a lot of buzz recently – and for good reason. The LSU running back is currently just 20 years old but had an incredible season for the Tigers as a junior. Edwards-Helaire maybe just 5’8” and 205 pounds, but he is perhaps the most versatile running back in the draft with a rare combination of speed, explosiveness, twitch, and pass-catching ability. The Steelers could pair him with Conner right away as a third-down back who could take over by the end of the season.
D’Andre Swift, Georgia
There is a good chance that both Edwards-Helaire and D’Andre Swift will be gone before the Steelers pick in the second round, but if not, they are both players who could provide an immediate boost to this team. Swift may be lacking an extra gear as a true homerun threat, but he is a young back who can make defenders miss with his impressive lateral agility and burst. He is also an asset in the passing game – averaging over 9 yards per catch throughout his college career. Like Edwards-Helaire, he could step in and carve out a role from day one.
Jonathan Taylor, Wisconsin
Jonathan Taylor may be the best pure runner in the class with a coveted combination of size, strength, and speed. His production at Wisconsin was thoroughly impressive as he rushed for 6,174 yards (6.7 yards per carry) in just three seasons. For the first time in his collegiate career, Taylor was used as a receiver in 2019 and shows potential in that area. He has the makings of a true feature back who can do it all, but his nearly 1,000 touches over his career are concerning. Still, Le’Veon Bell was a Big Ten underclassmen with a lot of touches, but the Steelers weren’t scared to draft him.
J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
Like Taylor, J.K. Dobbins also had a big workload in college, but injuries don’t seem to be a concern for the big junior. Dobbins has played in every possible game since joining the Buckeyes in 2017 and has rushed for nearly 4,500 yards over the past three seasons. Dobbins is another young player who excels at each phase of the game. He may not have one elite trait, but his versatility gives him the potential to be a long-time starter in the NFL. He could share work with Conner as a rookie and take over full-time in 2021.
I’m not advocating that the Steelers take a running back for the sake of addressing the position, and it’s possible that all of these guys could go before they pick at 49. However, all four of these guys have the potential to be legitimate starting-caliber running backs at the next level. If the Steelers get a chance to draft one, it could help out their running game in a closing Super Bowl window.