5 candidates to be the Steelers top running back in 2021

Kenneth Gainwell #19 of the Memphis Tigers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Kenneth Gainwell #19 of the Memphis Tigers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Pittsburgh Steelers running back Anthony McFarland (26). Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Anthony McFarland

My last candidate to be Pittsburgh’s top running back in 2021 might seem like a bit of a stretch, but it’s important to remember the context of what we are dealing with here. Though Anthony McFarland didn’t even make a dent in his rookie season in 2020, neither did any other running back on the team, and it stands to reason that we could see a big jump from him in year two. McFarland’s opportunities were very limited last year as his 33 carries were just over 2.0 per game.

Speed and athleticism clearly aren’t the issue for McFarland who averaged 6.7 yards per carry in college and ran a 4.44 at the NFL Combine. In addition, Matt Canada already has familiarity with McFarland as he was Maryland’s head coach in 2018 – the season where McFarland had over 1,000 rushing yards and averaged an eye-popping 7.9 yards per attempt.

As a former fourth-round pick, McFarland is a longshot to be the lead dog for this team in 2021, but we’ve already seen how he fits in Canada’s offense, and if Pittsburgh doesn’t address the position early, it wouldn’t be a stretch at all to think he could beat out Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels to become the team’s top running back next year.

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The Steelers still have more Pro Days to attend, and we will soon get an even better gauge of their interest in other running back candidates this year. As for now, these five players could potentially be the top running back in Pittsburgh in 2021.