Steelers mock draft: Steven Nelson throws a curveball in Pittsburgh’s plans

Eric Stokes #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images)
Eric Stokes #27 of the Georgia Bulldogs. (Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images) /
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Memphis Tigers running back Kenneth Gainwell (19). Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports /

Kenneth Gainwell. 2. player. 858. . Running back. Tigers

Steelers mock draft round 2: RB Kenneth Gainwell

I know the Steelers have expressed that they will be looking for players who didn’t opt-out in 2020, I think they would be willing to make an exception for Memphis running back, Kenneth Gainwell at this point in the draft. Along with cornerback, center, and offensive tackle, running back is arguably the biggest need Pittsburgh has this year, and Gainwell is a guy that offensive coordinator, Matt Canada, is going to love.

Though he didn’t play this past season, Gainwell was terrific in 2019 as he exploded for 1,459 rushing yards with 13 touchdowns at 6.3 yards per carry. In addition, his ability to dominate in the passing game is a tool the Steelers are sure to love as the dynamic running back pitched in 610 yards on 12.0 yards per reception in 2019.

Most teams have their top three running backs pretty well set this year as Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, and Javonte Williams make up the first tire of backs in the class. After that, many teams will have Kenneth Gainwell as their best player of the next tier. If Pittsburgh misses out on the top three by the time they’re on the clock in the second round, Gainwell could be a solid consolation prize. He would see a sizeable workload from the gate and quickly develop into their lead dog in the backfield.