The Pittsburgh Steelers are just a few days away from drafting the newest players to their roster. Of course many Steelers fans have been clamoring for one of those picks to be one of the top running backs of this 2021 NFL Draft class. While there is a real possibility these fans will get their wish, there is also a chance those running backs won't even be available when it’s the Steelers’ turn to pick.
If you don’t already know, the cream of the running back crop this year boils down to three names:
Najee Harris (Alabama)
Travis Etienne (Clemson)
Javonte Williams (North Carolina)
Depending on the outlet, they could be ranked in any order. The real problem lies with the teams which need running backs also being the teams with multiple first round picks. Both the Dolphins and Jets could scoop a back before pick 24, and other running back needy teams like the Bills or Buccaneers could try to jump the Steelers to steal a runner from under their noses.
So what happens if the Steelers miss out on one of the triumphant trio of running back prospects? Well they have a couple options:
Option 1: Draft a Second Tier Player
There are a number of running backs that should be drafted in the mid-rounds including: Michael Carter, Kenneth Gainwell, Rhamondre Stevenson, Chuba Hubbard or Trey Sermon, to name a few. Perhaps the Steelers could spend a Day 2 or Day 3 pick on one of the above names and try to make a running back committee work in Pittsburgh.
Option 2: Sign a Free Agent
Free agency has nearly been sucked dry at running back. The remaining characters are basically guys removed from their primes but might still have a little something left in the tank. Players who fit this description include Todd Gurley, Adrian Peterson, and even Le’Veon Bell. All are still waiting on the open market, with their values decreasing by the day. Perhaps a veteran can offer just enough to right the Steelers’ running woes.
Option 3: Go With What You Have
This one is playing with fire, Benny Snell, Anthony McFarland, Kalen Ballage, Jaylen Samuels, and Trey Edmunds round out what many think is the worst running back depth chart in the game. The Steelers would be reliant on someone making a large, unexpected step forward, or the offensive line returning to such a state of dominance it doesn't really matter who the back is. The problem is, both are incredibly unlikely.
Option 4: Make a Trade
I’ll leave you with by far the least likely option, but the Steelers pulled this off to acquire Jerome Bettis back in 1996, so maybe lightning can strike twice. Looking across the league you will find disgruntled back ups wanting more playing time. Like Packers backup A.J. Dillon. The second round pick is going to continue to be handcuffed to the bench thanks to Aaron Jones’ big money contract extension. Maybe the Steelers can leverage that into prying the 2020 second round pick out of Boston College.
But what do you think? What happens next if the Steelers miss out on one of the top running backs of the 2021 draft? Let us know your thoughts down in the comments below.