The Pittsburgh Steelers knew they were going to need help at the running back position this offseason. They acquired a free agent back, and went into the 2017 NFL Draft knowing the backup role behind Le’Veon Bell would be a necessity.
It is now time to update the team’s depth chart at the running back position, predict just who will make the team and what the stable of backs will look like as the team prepares for the 2017 NFL season.
James Conner (R)
Roosevelt Nix (FB)
You might look over the above list and think to yourself, “Uh, where are the rest of the running backs?” Well, there aren’t any, at least not on the current roster.
Unlike many other positions on the team’s depth chart, the Steelers’ running back situation seems pretty cut-and-dry, barring injury. Everyone knows what Bell provides every time he touches the ball, and the depth chart behind him is about as easy as any to predict.
As I stated earlier, Bell will likely get a nice long-term contract here in the coming months, meaning he isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. But who will back him up? This is where rookie James Conner comes in. Fitzgerald Toussaint has more experience, and knows the system, but the 3rd round pick from Pitt certainly is capable of spelling Bell when he needs a break.
After those two backs, free agent acquisition Knile Davis certainly will hold a roster spot, if nothing more than a kickoff return specialist. Davis is known more for his return capabilities than his running skills as a back.
Roosevelt Nix makes the team due to being a huge part of the special teams puzzle and his bone crunching blocks in short yardage situations. That leaves the team with four backs on the depth chart.
Assuming both Williams and Smith don’t make the team, you have to wonder what is in store for Toussaint. The team could go into the season with Bell, Conner, Davis and Nix as their primary backs, or they could carry five, and include Toussaint. In my opinion, the team lets Toussaint go, as there are other positions which might need to carry more players than usual, like outside linebacker and wide receiver.
The Steelers should feel comfortable heading into the regular season with their current running back situation, as long as everyone, mainly Bell, stays healthy and free from suspensions. Not to mention assuming the team locks up Bell with a new contract.
Some have brought up the chance of bringing DeAngelo Williams back to the team, but the team likely wouldn’t need his services if Conner can prove to be the back we all hope he becomes, in other words, his 2014 self.
If there is one position I am not terribly concerned about heading into 2017, it would be the running back position.