Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. was the 10th player taken at his position when the Pittsburgh Steelers selected him in round four, much to the delight of some fans. And while there are others who question his speed and athleticism, there is still a lot to like about his game.
Reading the scouting reports written about him ahead of the draft, there appears to be no doubts about his toughness, durability and physical style of play, but doubts remain about how well his skills will translate to the professional level when playing against stronger and faster players.
“Downhill grinder with an ability to create for himself with his vision and power, but lacking desired level of elusiveness and burst as an NFL runner. Snell is a touchdown hog whose scores were often earned and rarely given. Teams will like his toughness, size and instincts, but he must improve has blitz pickup to counter his athletic limitations. He needs to find the right fit to become an average RB2/RB3.”
Built like a truck at 5’10”, 224 pounds with excellent upper- and lower-body strength.
Productive runner who, in three seasons, became the all-time leading rusher at Kentucky.
One-cut, downhill back who gets a full head of steam early in his rush; will drop his shoulders and run with good power between the tackles.
Patient and smart with good vision; lets the play develop and trusts his blockers.
Fantastic short-yardage and goal-line back who will get his shoulders square and use his strength to pick up tough yards.
Not as explosive as a power back should be; limited burst in his game and failed to test as an athlete with suddenness.
Timed speed (4.66 40-yard dash) is poor for a starting running back and will make scouts recheck his tape looking for chunk plays.
Looks stiff with limited hip flexibility and slow, heavy feet.
Has the build of a tough guy but doesn’t stand his ground as a pass-protector.
Won’t run away from defenders; lacks the speed to reach and turn the corner.
Snell was incredibly productive at Kentucky and captured the attention of fans with his dominance in the SEC. But scouts see a tight, slow, limited runner who profiles as a rotational back who can win in short-yardage situations.
GRADE: 5.60 (ROUND 5—BACKUP CALIBER) PRO COMPARISON: Carlos Hyde
Kyle Crabbs, The Draft Network:
“Benny Snell projects favorably as a lead back in the NFL, specifically for a gap/power heavy rushing offense. Snell showcases a good nose for the boundary and effective toughness between the tackles, often times grinding out tough yardage and slipping through first contact. Snell possesses admirable YAC abilities and will sneak past you despite a lack of true long speed. An effective pass protector, Snell brings every down upside with him in his transition to the NFL.”
Joe Marino, The Draft Network:
“Snell has been a productive workhorse back for Kentucky over the last three seasons. He has the size and power to operate as a downhill runner in a gap/power scheme in the NFL. While Snell enjoyed terrific production in college, his lack of burst and elusive traits limit his NFL upside. His vision, power and ability to win in pass pro are his keys to success in the NFL. By year three, Snell has the makings of a rotational back that offers value as a battering ram, pass protector and special teams contributor.”
With pick 122 in the 2019 NFL Draft, the #Steelers select Benny Snell Jr., RB, Kentucky.— Kent Lee Platte (@MathBomb) April 27, 2019
Benny Snell Jr. posted a Poor #RAS with Good size, Poor speed, Poor explosiveness, Okay agility at the RB position. pic.twitter.com/pRsgdIkJZl
Snell was a true workhorse for Kentucky last season, finishing in the top ten at the position in missed tackles forced, yards after contact and runs of 10 or more yards! pic.twitter.com/XOGZ8knJAn— PFF PIT Steelers (@PFF_Steelers) April 27, 2019
New Steelers RB Benny Snell really could crank out yards after contact pic.twitter.com/irtvRvXrzR— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 28, 2019
With the 122nd pick of the 2019 #NFLDraft – the Pittsburgh Steelers select Kentucky RB Benny Snell! #SnellYeah pic.twitter.com/PDJoWo418V— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 27, 2019
Watching his highlight videos shows a player who could quickly become a valuable option coming off the bench to spell James Conner and good option to use around the goalline. Warning some of the tracks that accompany these videos contains profanity and most of the music will make you want to hit the mute button: