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Steelers 2018 Positional Outlook: Examining the running back depth after the draft

Taking a look at the Steelers’ running backdepth after the 2018 NFL Draft.

NCAA Football: Clemson at North Carolina State Rob Kinnan-USA TODAY Sports

The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2018 regular season, and after the 2018 NFL Draft the overall 90-man roster is set — for now. As players become available, and injuries happen, the offseason roster is certainly fluid, but it doesn’t mean we can’t take a look at the current roster and see who could make the starting roster when things shake out prior to Week 1 of the regular season.

Today, we focus on the running back position. The Steelers have kept most of the same faces as last year around, and added a new one at the same time via the draft.

Let’s take a look at the running backs currently on the team’s offseason roster:

Le’Veon Bell
Fitzgerald Toussaint
Stevan Ridley
James Conner
Jaylen Samuels
Jarvion Franklin
James Summers

Without even taking a hard look at the list, there are three names who are locks to make the roster, in my opinion. Bell, Conner and Samuels. After that is anyone’s guess. Now, before fans start to suggest I forgot the fullback position, I didn’t. Roosevelt Nix just received a new contract this offseason, and isn’t going anywhere.

But, of the remaining players, who will make the final 53? And how many running backs will the Steelers keep?

The one thing Jaylen Samuels has going for him is his versatility. He can play running back, full back, wide receiver and even tight end. Therefore, the team can count him at a number of positions with his one roster spot. In my opinion, this battle comes down to Stevan Ridley and Fitzgerald Toussaint. Assuming the Steelers want to keep three pure running backs, a full back and a flex player on their 53-man roster. Personally, I can see this happening.

The Ridley vs. Toussaint battle is a unique one. Each has an edge on the other for differing reasons. Toussaint is able to play special teams and return kickoffs, while Ridley is a better runner and can provide better depth at the running back position. Question then becomes which provides more value to the team.

What is my prediction for who will make the team?

Le’Veon Bell
James Conner
Jaylen Samuels
Stevan Ridley

For whatever reason, I can’t forget how the Steelers cut Toussaint last year, going with Terrell Watson on the final roster instead, and after he went unclaimed he ended up on the practice squad. This told me all I need to know about Toussaint, and that is he is an expendable reserve player.

I think the team keeping 3 pure running backs, and a flex player like Samuels will set them up for success both in the short term, and the long term. With this depth chart, if something were to happen to Le’Veon Bell, they would be prepared to handle the load without him, unlike in years past.

Who do you think will be the team’s running back corps when all is said and done? Let us know in the comment section below!