The Pittsburgh Steelers obviously have a roster in flux. With a long list of free agents and a number of replaceable players the roster will look a whole lot different come September. One of the positions that will fly under the radar, but is still extremely important, is the Steelers number two running back spot. Obviously, Najee Harris is head-and-shoulders above anyone already on the Steelers roster and has All-Pro potential. So, the Steelers don't need to spend any real assets at the position. However, when we look at other teams we can see what the Steelers should be getting from a back-up runner and what they clearly weren't getting from Benny Snell Jr. and Kalen Ballage.
The Steelers need the below kind of effort from their back-ups on every carry they receive.
The back-up running back is a position that will play more than any back-up spot on your team. Sure, you rotate edge rushers, sub package defensive backs and depth receivers should check into every game/drive. But you need to be able to ride a back-up running back for entire drives at times.
You also have to anticipate your starting running back to miss multiple games per year. Even top backs in the league like Derrick Henry missed a load of time this year. It is an inevitability at the position your starter will miss time. It is such a physical position that you have to anticipate giving your backup starts, and you have to give them a percentage of carries per game, even when the starter is healthy, in an attempt to keep your starter upright.
Look at the Kansas City Chiefs for example. When they kicked the Steelers out of the playoffs they used a pair of backs in Clyde Edwards-Helaire, and Jerick McKinnon, plus they were missing Damien Williams. Each of these backs gashed the Steelers, and when the defense was getting tired the Chiefs threw in a fresh back that gashed the Steelers even further. The Steelers simply don't get any extra juice from their own back up runners, like what Kansas City gets from theirs. AND on top of that the Chiefs backfield costs the team next to nothing against the salary cap. They prove you can stack your back field for minimal money spent.
Jerick McKinnon Game™— EDDIE HIGH (@EddieHigh) January 17, 2022
6-81-1 receiving pic.twitter.com/KdkgIws7IW
With the amount of holes on the Steelers’ roster I don't think they should look to draft a running back. But they need to address the position.
The Steelers should look to bring in a number of undrafted free agent backs, and sign a veteran like what the Cardinals did with James Conner. Veteran running backs are not expensive additions, and some can still bring some juice to an offense. They just can't be stupid and give a veteran more than minimal dollars or multiple years. There is nothing wrong with having a different veteran back up year after year, but having someone with explosive potential is a key and a must-have. This team simply isn't getting that support now and haven't since they acquired DeAngelo Williams as the secondary option.
But what do you think? How important is improving the back up running back spot to you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.