Positional versatility may be the strongest currency in the NFL, and that’s why Pittsburgh Steelers second-year pro Connor Heyward is so valuable.
Heyward, 24, was drafted in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL Draft and caught 12 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown in his rookie season.
While playing at Michigan State, Heyward was primarily a running back, but towards the end of his collegiate career, the Spartans tried him as an H-back and tight end.
Now in the pros, the Steelers also want him in a couple of different spots: special teams, tight end, H-back and now, fullback. After the departure of incumbent fullback starter Derek Watt, Heyward is expected to take the reins at the position in 2023 when needed.
“It’s different, even though I did it last year because we had Derek Watt, so I’m doing it a bit more,” Heyward said via Steelers Now. “Whenever that guy had the ball, he converted it. I’m looking forward to doing it more. You know, running the ball, catching it out of the backfield, and doing different things like that. Whatever the coaches ask me.”
Heyward saw action at fullback in Tuesday’s practice, per Steelers Now writer Nick Farabaugh, and he’ll likely have a similar role during the season. Not every team employs a fullback, but Mike Tomlin has been known to feature one in his offenses.
In recent years, Roosevelt Nix, and the aforementioned Derek Watt were in that position. Now, it appears Heyward is next in line. The difference? Heyward is far more than a fullback, and his versatility gives him an advantage to seeing the field.