The Steelers have an important decision to make with their first selection in the 2020 NFL Draft. Here’s why they could be targeting a receiver or running back early.
In a year where the Steelers are shorthanded on draft choices and with the inability to track Pro Day visits, it’s been harder than ever to pinpoint which positions Pittsburgh will target with their first selection in the draft. As you know, that pick doesn’t come until 49th overall on day two of the 2020 NFL Draft.
Though both offensive and defensive tackle are something that has to be on their radar, and linebacker is a possibility, it’s looking more and more like the Steelers could address a skill player early in the draft.
According to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, the Steelers could go that direction early. Here is some of what she had to say about the running back and wide receiver positions:
"Both running back James Conner and wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster are in the final years of their rookie deals, and their future in Pittsburgh is far from decided. With a deep wide receiver class and plenty of good running backs left on the board at this point, the Steelers could get a quality, NFL-ready talent with their first selection."
This makes complete sense for a team that is in the closing years (or possibly even months) of a Super Bowl window. Wide receivers and running backs are two positions that have been proven could make impacts right away. Even if James Conner or JuJu Smith-Schuster extended beyond 2020, there are receivers and running backs that could give their offense a boost from the gate.
Some of the running backs that Pryor mentioned were Jonathan Taylor, Cam Akers, and Clyde Edwards-Helaire. After two reported video meetings, Taylor could be of particular interest to Pittsburgh at pick 49. He could provide an immediate boost on the ground and more speed to the position than we have seen in years.
A wide receiver is also something that could be on the Steelers radar. Pryor mentioned that TCU’s Jalen Reagor would be “an ideal” selection. Reagor projects as an X receiver who has the versatility to line up all over the formation. He’s physical at the catch point and explosive with the ball in his hands.
Prior also mentioned USC’s Michael Pittman Jr. and Penn State’s K.J. Hamler as other ideal options. Pittman is an outside receiver who is productive and well-rounded with excellent family bloodlines (his father was a long-time NFL running back). Hamler, meanwhile, may be pigeonholed to playing the slot due to his lack of size (5’9”, 178 pounds), but is a speedy receiver who creates separation with ease.
There is no doubt that the Steelers want to win as Ben Roethlisberger’s career is winding down. Adding a capable running back or receiver could give their offense an immediate boost in 2020 and provide insurance to James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster. Don’t be surprised if this is the direction they choose to go at pick 49 in the NFL Draft.