3 reasons Steelers will regret letting James Conner walk

Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Pittsburgh Steelers running back James Conner (30) Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Pittsburgh Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert . Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers are now forced to draft a running back for the 4th consecutive year

Most importantly, the Steelers will have to probably use one of their top two picks to ensure they get their running back of the future. Resigning Conner short-term would’ve given them the option to take a flier in the 4th or 5th round in hopes to find a future starter. I don’t see a lot of prospects that fit the Steeler’s preferences falling out of the second round. Najee Harris and Travis Etienne are the top 2 prospects, while Javonte Williams looks like the best fit schematically.

None of those three prospects are going to be available in the 3rd round. Having to pick a running back so high wouldn’t be as much of a problem, but the Steelers need help all over, especially on the offensive line. This is not a good draft for Centers and if the Steelers want a better option than B.J Finney starting in the middle of the trenches they will have to use a top 2 pick at the position. they could use a tackle, which could theoretically be taken in the 3rd round but then they have to ignore the aging defensive line, thin linebacker group(very little depth), or the hole created in the secondary by Steven Nelson.

How rough will it be for the Steelers if they pass on the next Darius Leonard, Cameron Jordan, or Xavier Rhodes for a running back who likely won’t be the first or second-best rusher within just the AFC North the next few seasons? All three of those players were taken with a 24th pick or later and they all would be in positions the Steelers need help in. Pittsburgh is in a good spot to fill the needs that are opening up thanks to a tough free agency, but that gets messed up if they have to commit to a running back too early in the draft.

Unfortunately for the black and gold, there isn’t going to be much of an option. If Pittsburgh wishes to improve the running game they need someone better than Snell on the roster. If they don’t get one of the top 3 prospects at the position there likely isn’t going to be an improvement over Conner. That forces them to pass on some supreme talent that will fall due to the number of quarterbacks being taken in the early half of the 1st round.

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All in all, keeping Conner at least short-term would have been the right move for a team trying to win now. Unfortunately, Conner is now a running back for the Cardinals. At least we won’t have to worry about playing him in 2021 unless there is a Super Bowl 43 rematch.