No running back was picked in the first round of the 2013 NFL Draft. In 2014 not only wasn’t running back picked in the first round, there wasn’t a running back picked until middle of the second round.
The Pittsburgh Steelers might mouth the words that they could pick a running back with their first pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, but don’t believe them. However, that doesn’t mean they won’t pick a running back in subsequent rounds….
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Running Back – The Starter
The Steelers did pick a running back in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. His name is Le’Veon Bell, and while a Lisfranc injury limited his progress in his rookie year, the young rusher exploded in 2014.
- Bell proved himself to be a dual threat, a player who made offenses pay both on the ground and in the air, and someone who forced opposing defenses to account for.
Bell suffered a minor injury vs. Cincinnati and missed the Steelers playoff loss to the Ravens, which means that the Steelers lost approximately 25% of their offense. That’s how valuable Bell became to this team in 1 season.
Analyzing Steelers Depth at Running Back – the Back Ups
The Steelers signed Ben Tate as soon as Bell went down, but he’s not expected to be resigned especially now that the Steelers have brought DeAngelo Williams on board. Indeed, Hall will likely start the Steelers first two games of the season as Bell is expected to be suspended for violation the NFL’s substance abuse policies.
Behind Hall, the Steelers have 2014 3rd round pick Dri Archer and rookie free agent Josh Harris. They also have fullback Will Johnson, although fullbacks (sadly) are a dying breed in the NFL and are rarely called on to rush the ball. Josh Harris showed some potential during his limited carries during 2014, but is hardly assured a roster spot.
Priority Status of Running Back for Steelers in 2015 NFL Draft
Right now the Steelers have 5 running backs (including Will Johnson) on their roster and during all of 2014 they never carried more than four. Bell, Hall, and Johnson are assured roster spots, and Archer is likely to get one too by virtue of his 3rd round draft status.
- Does that mean the Steelers can ignore running back in the 2015 NFL Draft?
Probably not, but they can and almost assuredly will ignore the position in the early rounds. The days when the Steelers opening day roster would contain the likes of Jerome Bettis, Richard Huntley, Amos Zereoue, Chris Fuamatu-Ma’afala and Jon Witman with Dan Krieder holding down the practice squad are over.
But running is still important to the Steelers success, and the Steelers, while right to cut LeGarrette Blount, were caught with their pants down when Bell got hurt. There’s no harm and every reason to draft a quality running back with “upside” late in the draft, so running back’s priority status for the Steelers in the 2015 NFL Draft should be considered Moderate-Low.