The Steelers could be looking to add their future running back in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s my scouting report on Ohio State running back, J.K. Dobbins.
The Steelers 2019 season was riddled with injuries at several positions. Amongst them, running back was one of the most affected. Reliable depth has to be looked at in this upcoming draft class.
Each one of the Steelers running backs brings a different running style to the table. James Conner brings a combination of burst and power. Benny Snell is a vintage power back. Jaylen Samuels is the swiss army knife. However, the one thing these guys have in common is none of them played a full 16 game schedule last year.
Current starter James Conner missed six games in 2019 with a hurt AC joint. Backups Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels had knee surgeries forcing them to miss several weeks. The Steelers should be looking to the draft to add a safety net.
RB J.K. Dobbins, Ohio State
- Balanced runner that is tough to knock off course
- Three down back that can be plugged in any time
- Great vision upfield
- Quick feet that don’t stop churning in a pile
- Finds space in the passing game as plays break down
- Effective on screens, stature makes him tough to track down
- Physical runner that lays the wood
- More than willing blocker that snuffs out the inside rush
- Excels at getting linebackers to overcommit and open up cutback lanes
- Durable player, didn’t miss any games with 300 carries last year at Ohio State
- Impressive physique. Takes nutrition serious
- Good character and leader in the locker room
- Lacks elite top speed
- Susceptible to being chased down on breakaways
- Frame does not fit the Steelers track record for feature running backs
- Gets lost in pass protection against looks with multiple rushers
- Concentration mistakes lead to some drops
- Needs work on hand usage when blocking, relies on his pop to stop rushers
- Did not get to see him run at the NFL Combine due to injury concerns
J.K. Dobbins fit in Pittsburgh
Dobbins is not the quintessential Pittsburgh running back when looking at his measurables. At 5’9” 209 pounds, he can be naively underestimated. However, Dobbins brings a blue-collar running style to the field every snap.
In addition to the cultural fit for Dobbins, he checks all the boxes for what the Steelers need from a feature back. He can affect the game between the tackles for gap run plays. He also ran plenty of outside zone and option plays in college. Dobbins posted 247 yards receiving with an average of 10.7 yards per catch in 2019. He proved to be useful as a first down runner and third-down receiving option. If he receives a little coaching on his pass protection he could earn playing time early on.
Pro Comparison: Dalvin Cook
Dobbins and Cook have been compared together in the past. Brian Baldinger first made the comparison in a film breakdown of Dobbins on twitter. The comparison could not be more spot on. Both runningbacks bounce off would-be tacklers like a pinball.
They both have exceptional vision for finding space upfield. Cook is 5’10” 210 pounds virtually mirroring Dobbins. They both have rock hard physiques and are willing to lay a big hit on opposing defenders. Cook and Dobbins are also both top rushers in different categories for their alma maters.
Dobbins is going to be ready to hit the ground running as a rookie. He has time to nurse his bumps and bruises before training camp. Once Dobbins is 100%, he will be breaking out big plays in no time like Dalvin Cook once he got healthy.
We also cannot forget that if taken by Pittsburgh he will not have to shoulder the load totally alone. James Conner is signed for one more year. Benny Snell is coming into his second year with high hopes. Dobbins could take a back seat and see how veterans carry themselves while navigating training camp as a rookie.