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Why the Steelers should target James Conner in the 2017 NFL Draft

Despite his rocky road, the Steelers would be wise to take a long look at a player they already know well — James Conner.

Pittsburgh v Clemson Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

Unfortunately, when football fans think of Pitt running back James Conner, they typically think of one thing — cancer.

This isn’t to downplay Conner’s incredible comeback from his cancer diagnosis, but just the fact the novice football fan forgets he suffered a torn MCL before being diagnosed with cancer.

Despite all the obstacles against him, Conner didn’t just come back, but came back with a point to prove. Through it all, Conner’s draft stock has dropped since his hellish 2015 season.

Draft profiles talk about his lack of agility after his knee injury, and the uncertainty of cancer possibly returning along with the damage done to his body. But what those scouts and analysts are forgetting are the intangible aspects of his comeback.

It are those intangibles, along with his football skill and prowess, which would make him a great prospect for the Pittsburgh Steelers in the upcoming 2017 NFL Draft. Running back isn't the biggest need on the Pittsburgh Steelers draft board, far from it, but it doesn't mean the team doesn't have a need to fill at the position.

Le’Veon Bell is likely to return, but DeAngelo Williams and Fitzgerald Toussaint are the only real prospects who could help fill out the running back depth chart, and Williams is a free agent this offseason.

With the team not likely to spend a high draft pick on a running back, James Conner, could be their guy. There is more to him than just his incredible story, but his skill and tenacity could be just what the Steelers could need. He isn’t a player who waits for the hold to open, but makes the hole open with his bruising style. He and Bell would compliment each other well, and make defenses brace for a barrage of styles on a game-by-game basis.

Conner’s combine and pro day workouts could certainly help lift his draft stock, but if he were available, it makes sense for the Steelers to take him in the mid-to-late rounds, in my opinion.

I discuss this more in the latest BTSC podcast “Steelers Hangout” above. Give it a listen in the player above, and follow all of the BTSC podcasts on iTunes by searching "The Standard is the Standard", as well as on several podcast apps for Android users.


The show is sponsored by Frank Walker Law, the top criminal defense firm to call in western Pennsylvania and West Virginia and home to one of the nation's top-100 ranked trial attorneys in Frank Walker. For his PA office, call 412-212-3878 or to reach his WV office call 304-712-2089. You should also checkout his website to see how he can help you in your time of need. Frank Walker Law: Real Talk, Real Experience, Real Results.