Running backs Steelers must consider taking in the 2021 NFL Draft

Javonte Williams #25 of the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Javonte Williams #25 of the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /
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The Steelers are certainly going to be in the market for a running back this April. Here are the players they should consider taking in each round. 

One of the biggest problems with the Steelers offense in 2020 was their complete inability to move the football on the ground. While there is plenty of blame to be passed around for ranking dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game and yards per attempt, there’s no doubt that Pittsburgh needs to improve their running back room.

James Conner, a former Pro Bowler in 2018, is coming off arguably the worst seasons of his four-year NFL career. He was completely underwhelming in 2020 and doesn’t possess any high-end traits at the position. For this reason, it’s incredibly likely that he signs elsewhere this offseason, and the Steelers will probably search for his replacement in the NFL Draft.

With 19 unrestricted free agents and so many needs this offseason, it’s hard to tell exactly when the Steelers will be looking to address the position during the draft, but there is little doubt that they will. Here are the players they should be targeting in each round of the 2021 NFL Draft:

Round 1:

Travis Etienne, Clemson 

Be careful what you hear on social media. There are a lot of folks out there who would leave you to believe that Najee Harris is the clear-cut number one running back in this class. I don’t believe that to be the case at all. While Harris is a very solid football player, he will be 23.5 by the start of the season with a good bit of tread already off the tires. He also has a concerning lack of breakaway speed, and big plays will likely be few and far between in the NFL.

If Pittsburgh is to target a running back in round one, Travis Etienne is the only one that makes sense to me. Though I am rarely ever a fan of taking a running back this high (due to how the position has been devalued in recent years), Etienne is the best RB prospect in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’s a bit on the lighter side (listed at 205 pounds), but he proved to be an impressive receiver this year and he’s an incredibly fast and explosive player. If all goes well, he could be an Alvin Kamara-type back with even more speed in the NFL.