Despite what some draft “experts” may say, it does not seem wise for the Steelers to spend an early draft pick on a new running back.
I have been quite vocal about the ignorance surrounding the concept of the Steelers selecting a running back with their sole first-round pick in the rapidly approaching NFL Draft. I have even gone as far as ranking my top three draft needs for the Steel City, and a flashy new RB was not one of them.
However, that does not translate to me believing that the Steelers should refrain from drafting a running back entirely. Especially considering both the current state of the rushing attack and the number of draft picks Pittsburgh currently possesses, there would be no particular reason not to. Better to be safe than sorry, right?
Besides, while there is not exactly a historic abundance of star running backs in this year’s selection of draft prospects, there are still some dynamic talents that could be overlooked long enough to the point where even I would feel safe scooping one off the board. While this honor could technically be bestowed upon any RB available whenever the Steelers decide to roll such dice, there is one notable name in particular that pops into my mind. That name is the one belonging to Oklahoma State superstar Chuba Hubbard.
Why Hubbard makes sense for Steelers
The Cowboy in question has made quite a name for himself in the town of Stillwater, Oklahoma, and beyond. In his three seasons at OK State, Hubbard has amassed an impressive 3,459 yards on the ground alone. 2019 was undoubtedly his best year, as he ran for just under 2,100 of those aforementioned yards in that same stretch. Chuba also garnered a grand total of 33 rushing scores while holding a career average of about six yards per carry.
Even in terms of receiving, Hubbard was no joke for a RB. He averaged exactly nine yards per reception on 53 in total, which resulted in him racking up 479 receiving yards and three TDs through the air during the span of his collegiate career. Considering how the Steelers like to utilize their current running backs, such as James Conner, a dual-threat RB would be a welcome addition to Pittsburgh’s artillery.
Now while all of these stats are nice and pretty, it may leave some confused as to why he would be deemed a “late-round” pick. Unfortunately, despite the crystal-clear potential of Hubbard, he was still given the rather mediocre ranking of 10th amongst fellow RB prospects by CBS Sports, and an overall ranking of 121st when placed within a pool of players at all positions. This almost certainly has to be attributed to Chuba’s 2020 season being severely lackluster, especially when it was expected to follow up his 2019 performance quite nicely. But luckily for Pittsburgh, that is virtually the only plausible explanation for his probability of being available later on in the draft in the first place.
While I have been very liberal in praising the talent of Chuba Hubbard, I still stand by my initial take that selecting a running back, even one of his caliber, is not the most important task on the Steelers’ to-do list. Rather he is a side goal, one that could be a firm help to the offense if such an opportunity arises. If I were in charge of Pittsburgh’s drafting process, I would not begin seeking out a RB until maybe the fifth round or so. No matter what CBS Sports ranks him, he is likely to be well on his way somewhere else by then. So if the Steelers do have a chance of wishing for Hubbard to join their offensive brigade at some point during the draft, they better hope that no other teams have kept track of his college tenure as well as we have today.