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Should the Steelers take a running back in the 2022 NFL Draft?

Could a new backup to Najee Harris be found in this year’s draft class?

Syndication: USA TODAY Robert Franklin / USA TODAY NETWORK

With each Big Board article this spring, the BTSC Big Board crew will be publishing a second article complementary to that respective portion of the big board. With the running back portion of the board having been released, the crew is here to give your their opinion on whether or not the Steelers should draft a running back in the 2022 NFL Draft.

If you have thoughts as to whether or not the Steelers should draft a running back, let us know in the comment section below. Let’s see what our resident draft analysts have to say.


Ryland B.: While I think that Benny Snell Jr., Trey Edmunds, Anthony McFarland, and Kalen Ballage all can bring something to the table, they are all best suited for a #3 or #4 role in an NFL backfield rather than a #2. However, with a bevy of team needs in the 2022 offseason and Najee Harris already on the roster, drafting a new running back is not a major priority for Pittsburgh this year. And keep in mind that Mike Tomlin prefers giving one running back the bulk of the carries in his offense. That being said, I think it is important to consider upgrading the positional depth so the Steelers have a good backup behind Harris to occasionally spell him out or even be an viable starter in the case of injury.

I feel like this might be a position best addressed in free agency, where a cheap veteran with some gas left in the tank might provide some quality play. But if the NFL draft has taught us anything, it’s that value at running back can be found in the later rounds – so if the right guy is available in rounds 5, 6, or 7, the Steelers should definitely be interested. In short, while running back might best be upgraded via free agency, the position shouldn’t be scratched off the Steelers’ draft board just yet.


K.T. Smith (CHISAP): With so many other needs, it’s hard to justify drafting a running back this year after taking Najee Harris with last year’s top pick. The Steelers need to get quicker in their backfield, though. Benny Snell and Kalen Ballage are redundant in that they bring similar skills and styles. Each are downhill runners best suited as a backup should Harris get injured or need a break. Anthony McFarland was supposed to be the quick back who could change the pace by slashing and getting to the edge. Two years in, he hasn’t shown much. Acquiring a shiftier runner ala Kansas City’s Jerick McKinnon would add a much-needed dimension to the backfield. The Steelers may look to free agency to acquire one, where players like Philip Lindsay, Sony Michel, Matt Breida and the aforementioned McKinnon will all be available.


Andrew Wilbar: I do not see running back as a position that should be addressed early, if at all. The Steelers are set with Najee Harris as the starter, and if Anthony McFarland can finally stay healthy, he is the perfect lightning to complement Harris’ thunder. Although Kalen Ballage was hardly used, he has the requisite athleticism to be a solid rotational back in the NFL. I have never been a fan of Benny Snell, but he is a guy the coaching staff seems to like. If Keaontay Ingram or Pierre Strong somehow fall to the later rounds, I would give it serious thought, but there are too many other needs on this team to prioritize another running back. Barring an incredible draft-day fall by a high-potential prospect, I would not waste a pick at this position unless it is Connor Heyward late on day three. For as little as the Steelers use a fullback, it may be wiser to just release Derek Watt and find a cheaper option in the draft.


NecksNation: The Steelers lack a true backup running back, which is a bit of a concern given the way they use Najee Harris. While this can easily be remedied via free agency, there have historically been plenty of capable running backs drafted in the later rounds, and on rare occasions you can land a star like Aaron Jones. It wouldn’t cost too much to sign a veteran free agent to fill the #2 role, so this is heavily contingent on what the Steelers do in free agency, but drafting a RB is certainly a possibility at the moment.

Last year they signed Kalen Ballage, who is more of a warm body than a true backup, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see them more heavily address the position. Despite their historical inactivity in free agency, this team has a laundry list of needs, which will hopefully force their hand and lead to some big signings this spring. If they do sign a veteran backup, the chance of them selecting a RB in the draft becomes slim to none, but until then, it’s a position that should be on the Steelers’ radar in the late rounds.


Geoffrey Benedict: For me the priority is upgrading the offensive line. I don’t think Benny Snell and Anthony McFarland are as bad as they have appeared so far, I think they are running backs that need run lanes in front of them and boxes that aren’t stacked.

James Conner thrived in the Steelers 2018 offense, but wasn’t much different from Benny Snell in 2019 and 2020, I think the Steelers backups are good enough, if the offense around them, mostly the offensive line, improves. For that reason I view drafting a running back as a lottery ticket. If they want to grab one late and see if they get something special I don’t have a problem with it, but with Najee Harris on the roster I want to see investment in the blocking, not competition for the backup runners.


Do you think the Steelers should acquire a running back this offseason? If so, when and how should they do it? Let us know your thoughts by voting on the poll and commenting down below!

Poll

How should the Steelers acquire a new running back?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Round 1
    (6 votes)
  • 2%
    Rounds 2-3
    (20 votes)
  • 15%
    Rounds 4-5
    (142 votes)
  • 15%
    Rounds 6-7
    (141 votes)
  • 10%
    UDFA contract
    (98 votes)
  • 43%
    Free agency
    (401 votes)
  • 13%
    Don’t sign/draft a running back
    (122 votes)
930 votes total Vote Now