The Steelers have some very important decisions to make in just a few days. Here’s why Wisconsin running back, Jonathan Taylor, is a possibility at pick 49.
Running back isn’t a position the Steelers are sure to address early in the draft, but it’s got to be pretty high on their radar. James Conner was a Pro Bowl player in 2018 with nearly 1,000 yards on the ground and 500 through the air to go with his 13 total touchdowns.
However, Conner has been injured in each of his first three seasons in the league, and he’s not special enough as a runner to offer up a big second contract. Because of this, it’s likely the Steelers could look for his replacement as early as this season.
Several running backs fit the size-thresholds and checks the boxes Pittsburgh looks for in a feature back. But after hearing reports that the Steelers didn’t have much interest in Jonathan Taylor, the Wisconsin running back seems to be back on the table with the 49th overall pick:
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, the Steelers had a pre-draft video call with Taylor. Pryor also noted on Twitter that the video call with the star running back was 1 of just 37 done this offseason by the Steelers.
Taylor has a lot of traits teams will desire at the next level. He’s got a prototype body for the position (5’10”, 226 pounds) and top-end speed as a home run threat (4.39 40 at the NFL Combine). In addition, Taylor shows plus vision and incredible contact balance as a runner between the tackles.
However, there are two big factors that could make teams hesitate to pull the trigger on Taylor. For starters, he had a massive college workload. Over the past three seasons for the Badgers, Taylor has carried the ball a whopping 926 times. He also has some pretty serious ball-security issues, with 18 fumbles over that span. In addition, Taylor could still use some work as a receiver and pass protector, but he flashes upside in these areas.
Some of the other running backs who could be on Pittsburgh’s radar this year include Florida State’s Cam Akers, Ohio States J.K. Dobbins, and Utah’s Zack Moss – all of which were durable college backs capable of carrying the load at the next level.
Even though Taylor was just 1 of 37 players to receive a video call from the Steelers this offseason, it’s hard to tell if there is a true level of interest here or if Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert were just doing their due diligence.
We don’t know when the Steelers will address the running back position (or if they will at all), but there have been signs all offseason of them looking that direction early. If they do, Jonathan Taylor is a player we would have to assume is back on their radar at this point.