The Pittsburgh Steelers were able to snag Benny Snell Jr. out of Kentucky during the 2019 NFL Draft, and when you did some research on Snell you probably saw a lot written about his hard-nosed running style.
As an example, just check out the first sentence of his NFL.com Draft Profile:
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.
You see tags like this associated with Snell after a tremendous career in the SEC at Kentucky, where he set school records as a runner, but Steelers fans shouldn’t think Snell is a one-trick pony. Just ask running backs coach Eddie Faulkner.
“He can do it all,” said Faulkner to Joe Rutter of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “It’s just a matter of him learning what to do and that he trusts himself and we trust him, and his teammates trust him out there on the football field to execute.
“As far as the physical attributes, he can catch, he can run, he can block. He cares about it. He’s smart, and he’s going to be a good player. We’re going to continue to develop him and see where it goes.”
So much for someone who is nothing more than a downhill grinder. Nonetheless, Snell realizes the difference between the NCAA and the NFL.
“I do feel like a freshman again,” Snell said. “I’m the freshman and there are all the vets, and they are like, ‘Look at that rookie.’ I take that into consideration and go day by day.”
But while the tempo of the game is faster, Snell understands what got him to the NFL — hard work and determination.
“You get to be thankful for the position you’re in and the time you took to get where you are,” Snell said. “You definitely need that time, but you have to remember what got you there. The work and the grind got me there, so I’m going to push on that.”
What will Snell’s role be on the team in 2019? That is anyone’s guess, but it seems fairly obvious the team isn’t just going to try and plug him into a single role, like goalline/short yardage back. Instead, Snell will be asked to do everything all other backs on the roster do on a day-in and day-out basis. Run, catch and block. If he can do all three of those things adequately there is no doubt he will find a role on the team. If he struggles, he might be known more for his special teams play than for running the football.