The Pittsburgh Steelers are a team with a laundry list of needs, but as we get closer to the 2021 NFL Draft, and also being the optimist I am, I think that list will begin to shrink. One of those positions however is virtually already a lock to come out of the draft. That position being a running back. On any given day you will find a plethora of Steelers mock drafts featuring any of the three top ranked runners.
Who makes up the top three running backs? Those would be Travis Etienne of Clemson, Najee Harris of Alabama, and Javonte Williams of North Carolina for those, somehow, unaware.
Outside of those top three you will find a number of role filling backs, but no one else is a true bell cow like the names mentioned above.
With such a sharp drop off in talent you may believe the Steelers will have to use their top pick to snag one of these premiere backs. But with some of the accompanying moves of free agency I'm here to tell you the Steelers now have the luxury of waiting.
Why? Well, because which NFL team really needs a running back? And, of those teams, who isn't riddled with holes whose draft capital should really be invested in more valuable positions? I can tell you undoubtedly, it’s less than three.
Amongst the RB deals so far this off-season:— Field Yates (@FieldYates) March 19, 2021
Aaron Jones: Packers
Chris Carson: Seahawks
Kenyan Drake: Raiders
Phillip Lindsay: Texans
Marlon Mack: Colts
Carlos Hyde: Jaguars
Jamaal Williams: Lions
Devontae Booker: Giants
Mike Boone: Broncos
Let’s run through some of the teams that can really use a running back, and where they are selecting. Starting off with the Miami Dolphins (Picks: 3, 18, 36, & 50). The Dolphins have shown some interest in Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris. Problems arise because they are pretty good at running back (Myles Gaskin and Malcolm Brown) and also have a bunch of holes at positions like center, edge, and linebacker. They could potentially jump into the running back market with one of their extra picks, but would be hard pressed to pass on some positions of need.
Next would be the New York Jets (Picks: 2, 23, 34). The Jets are basically locked in on Zach Wilson with the number two pick. Beyond that, the roster has been gutted the last couple of years. In need of safety, linebacker, edge rusher, offensive line, and receiver help, I just can't see the team prioritizing a runner when they need to protect yet another highly picked quarterback. While we’re at it, the Atlanta Falcons (Picks: 4, 35) also have a number of holes and just signed Mike Davis teetering them on the edge of chasing a top rusher.
The Buffalo Bills (Pick 30), and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Pick 32) have filled up their running back position and really don't have the space to carry another. The Bills now feature Zach Moss, David Singletary, and Matt Breida. While the Bucs run it back with Ronald Jones, and Leonard Fournette.
Source: The #Bucs are re-signing RB Leonard Fournette, as Lombardi Lenny lands in TB with a chance to reprise his role in January.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 26, 2021
Lastly, the Arizona Cardinals (Picks: 16, 49). The Cardinals have put together a pretty good team featuring a number of aging stars. While I would be stunned to watch them reach on a runner at the 16th overall pick, the 49th pick could be in play. If multiple backs are still available at this point the Steelers can sit back and grab the one that falls into their laps. Otherwise, they may have to trade up to get the back they covet.
But what do you think? Can the Steelers steal a top running back in the second round? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.