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Where should the Steelers find their next Franchise Running Back?

After Rashard Mendenhall's recent suspension, it has become apparent that the Steelers are highly unlikely to resign the problematic Running Back, especially with Mike Wallace also being a Free Agent. The Steelers Offense needs a consistent Running Game to work to its potential on a week-to-week basis. That means they need a runner who they can go to and know they can get some kind of production on all 3 downs against top competition. That being said, where should the Steelers next Franchise Running Back come from?

From within

Here are the Steelers Running Backs other than Rashard Mendenhall currently on the Roster:

Jonathan Dwyer

- He has shown potential and is young (23), but he has been inconsistent when given opportunities. I see him as the starter for 2013, but it is hard for me to see him as the long term starter. He is also a Restricted Free Agent this Offseason.

Isaac Redman

- Again, another Running Back that has shown potential, but is inconsistent. Redman has proven he is great in short down situations, but again, isn't someone who I see as a long term starter. He is 28 years old and, like Dwyer, is a Restricted Free Agent this Offseason.

Chris Rainey

- The speedy Rookie from Florida is a dangerous weapon in the Return Game and the Passing Game, but he is too small to take the bulk of the carries as a every-down back.

Baron Batch

- Has hardly seen the field this year and was injured all of last year. Has made a name for himself as a preseason warrior, but hasn't shown much of anything to this point as a runner. Hard to say

None of those names really inspire too much confidence for the long haul as a Franchise Running Back.

Draft

There aren't really any Franchise-talent Running Backs in this year's class, but there could be some quality additions that the Steelers could find on the 2nd day of the Draft.

Giovani Bernard, North Carolina

- The most promising RB in this class IMO. He has great versatility as a runner and receiver out of the backfield. He is also a good Pass Protecter in the mold of Joseph Addai. He might be out of our range as he could be an early 2nd Round Pick and I would refuse to use a 1st Round Pick on any Running Back in this year's class.

Eddie Lacy, Alabama

- Lacy sure has an intriguing balance of power and athleticism. He has made a name for himself breaking tackles and getting a lot of yards after first contact. He has the ability to be a work horse RB in the NFL.

Andre Ellington, Clemson

- Your typical, 1-cut Runner, Ellington has good explosiveness to make plays and can be dangerous in the passing game. However, he is 190 lbs and does not break tackles very well, which is out of the mold of the typical Steelers RB.

Montee Ball, Wisconsin

- Ball has the look of a Steelers Running Back. He is a downhill runner with speed to get around the edge. While he did have over 600 carries at Wisconsin, he is a Touchdown machine and can be a force in both the Run and the Pass. His only question marks are whether or not his numbers were because of a great Offensive Line. He could be available in the 2nd or 3rd Round.

Drafting a Running Back to be your Franchise Back is always a risky move, but it could pay off for the Steelers.

Free Agency

There aren't too many options to bring in from Free Agency that will be in our price range, but here are the best available for 2013

Reggie Bush

- The versatile runner has begun to somewhat live up to his lofty Draft status with the Dolphins. He is on the verge of having his second straight 1,000 yard season at 27 years old. He is a valuable weapon in the run game and passing game with his speed and explosiveness. However, he will be too pricey for the Steelers to pick up. There is very little chance he will sign with us.

Peyton Hillis

- The former Madden Cover athlete has seen his career go downhill. The Chiefs picked him up hoping he would form the best 1-2 punch in the NFL with Jamaal Charles, but that hasn't been the case. He could be a good pickup as a FB, but I don't know about his long-term potential. However, he as well might be out of our price Range

Felix Jones

- Jones has sure been a bust hasn't he? Once a highly prized Draft Pick by Jerry Jones, Felix has fallen behind in the Cowboys' depth chart, especially after the emergence of DeMarco Murray. He would be a luxury the Steelers cannot afford, and we already have a RB on our Roster that can do everything Jones can do in Chris Rainey.

Free Agency is an unlikely option this year to pick up a Franchise Running Back.

Conclusion

My analysis is that the Steelers are best served to pick up a Running Back in the Draft. No one in the organization has the ability to be our back of the future while any Running Back in Free Agency who could be that player is out of our price range. If you have your own options, please post them. I would love to see what you all think.

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