2020 Draft: Steelers 4th rounders get speed at RB and strength at OL
The Steelers continued adding to the offense in the 4th round, adding a speedy RB and a nasty IOL to block for him
The Steelers were situated with the 124th and 135th picks in the fourth round and addressed two offensive positions with Anthony McFarland and Kevin Dotson respectively.
Looking first at McFarland, he is a small shifty back with breakaway speed. He epitomizes change of pace, as his 4.44 40-yard dash makes him the fastest back on the Steelers roster. Looking into his tape, that seems to be about all he will bring to the Steelers.
In only two years at Maryland, McFarland logged 239 attempts for 1636 yards and 12 TD’s while also catching 24 passes for 199 yards and 1 TD. He was a big-play threat that relied on his shiftiness to make the big play. While his hands seem ok, he was never a heavy contributor in the passing game.
Looking at his pros, it starts and stops with his speed. He looks every bit as fast as his profile suggests in his game tape. The idea with him is to give him the ball and space and watch him fly. He has decent size as well, standing 5’8 208 lbs. He is a bit short and compact, which aids in his ability to make guys miss on the field.
What I like about McFarland is his tenacity as a runner. Even though he is a small and shifty back, he plays like he is bigger than his listed size. He isn’t going to be trucking anyone out there, but he plays bigger than he is. Combine that with his twitchy athleticism and you have a back that should be productive at the next level.
The main issue with McFarland was his lack of production at the college level. While he was constantly making the big play, he never really became a feature back at Maryland. This limits his upside in the NFL, as his ability to be a starting RB is inhibited.
As well, McFarland has a lot of character issues, reportedly complaining like a child weekly. This would explain why he left Maryland so early, as he had two more years of eligibility at Maryland. While these issues are important to note, Tomlin has ties to Maryland via his son playing there.
Finally, given his size, McFarland has had some injury issues. He played injured last year and given his smaller size may be more prone to injury. Considering he is likely to be just a parttime player, the injury issue is a little less frightening, but it should be made aware that he doesn’t have the body type to withstand a full NFL season as a starter.
All in all, McFarland is a fun back to watch who can take any ball to the house due to his speed. That said, given the depth at this position and his body type, he won’t be an every-down player for the Steelers. What they could see is an Alvin Kamara style player, one that sees the field on passing downs and looks to make most of his plays in open space. No, he isn’t as talented as Kamara, but he can provide the offense with a similar style of player.
Moving on to Dotson, he was a combine snub that’ll look to make his mark in Pittsburgh. Considering the hit the OL took in the offseason, it seemed certain that the Steelers would target someone on the line. While they did wait until the fourth, they grabbed a guy with a ton of upside.
Dotson is a mauler as a run blocker, utilizing his immense strength to move everyone out of the way. That strength is easily his biggest upside, as he is the definition of a man mover. This naturally makes him a great run blocker, something the Steelers emphasize with their interior guys.
His biggest issues stem from his technique as a pass blocker and how he is on the move. While his technique isn’t horrible, it is one of the weaker points of his game. The Steelers have done a good job of improving players in aspects like these though, so it shouldn’t be a big concern.
On the move is a bigger issue, as the Steelers like to pull their OGs in the run game. If Dotson can’t get better on the move, he will naturally struggle in this area. That said, with David DeCastro on the other side, the Steelers can utilize him to pull. As long as DeCastro is around, Hunt can do what he does best while scheming around his weaknesses.
Overall, there is little to not like in Dotson’s game. He is big and ferocious as a run blocker with developmental traits as a pass blocker. He honestly reminds me a lot of Ramon Foster; a big powerful OG that is an anchor in the run, decent in the past, but won’t be on the move that often. Expect to see him thrown into the OG competition early on, and if he doesn’t win out this year, an extra year of working on his technique should lead him to be a favorite to start next year.
The fourth round added some needed strength along the interior while also a speedy threat at RB. It’ll be interesting to see the Steelers try and get these guys on the field this year. The Steelers were dedicated to helping out the run, and both of these players should do just that.