Ask and you shall receive. I have been pleading for the Steelers to acquire a WR with length, long a not so secret desire for Mr. Ben Roethlisberger, for many a moon. Then the Steelers answered our prayers with their second round selection. After watching last year's anemic offense struggle after Ben went down for the season, it became obvious that the Steelers desperately needed an injection of speed at the skill positions. The Steelers just went a long way toward solving that problem by selecting Maryland RB Anthony McFarland with the 124th selection of the 2020 NFL Draft.
McFarland has blazing speed. He ran a 4.44 forty at the Combine. Not just track speed, he has football speed. Incredible vision and great burst. Very elusive due to impressive short area quickness and superior agility and balance. His leg drive through contact leads to a tendency to break tackles, especially on perimeter carries. A rare trait for a undersized homerun hitter who measured in at 5'8" and 208 lbs.
McFarland only had 24 receptions as a Terrapin, which seems like a criminal lack of effort to utilize his game breaking ability in the open field. The jury is still out on his hands obviously, but nothing really stood out on tape. The more probable issue with his limited opportunities was the fact he is almost invisible in pass protection. I am not sure if it his diminutive stature, or a lack of commitment in the role, maybe a little bit of both. He will have to disciple himself and work hard to improve this glaring weakness if he is going to see the field as a rookie. If not, he could get Big Ben killed. He has also dealt with nagging injuries at various points of his collegiate career. He needs a definitive role with the Steelers to improve his durability and longevity.
There are specific criteria necessary when attempting to accurately and fairly grade any draft pick. Only time will reveal their final grades, but I will utilize certain parameters as I attempt to apply an initial grade for each Steelers draft pick. I base each grade on projected roster fit, potential immediate impact, and assumed draft value.
McFarland is a threat to go the distance everytime he touches the football. He provides the Steelers a speed factor at RB they haven't enjoyed since Willie Parker, if ever. I have long pounded the table wanting the Steelers to acquire just such a player. I can foresee a definitive role for the young man right out of the gate, especially if he can become a serviceable pass protector. With all the talented new receiving options spreading the field, McFarland could potentially have a field day with mismatches galore. He was projected as a fourth round pick. Very prophetic as it turns out.
For all those reasons listed above, I am giving this selection a initial grade of B. I would love to give it a higher grade, but his pass blocking struggles and injury concerns could limit his opportunities to see the field.
What overall grade would you give this selection? Please vote in the attached poll and share your thoughts in the comments section below.
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What overall grade do you give this Pittsburgh Steelers selection?
This poll is closed
A = Excellent selection
B = Above average selection
C = Solid selection
D = Below average selection
F = Terrible selection