No matter how good your team may be doing, there will always be a vocal cross-section of the fan base that, at any given point during the season, is already looking at who their favorite team should be drafting the following spring.
The Pittsburgh Steelers fan base is certainly no exception, and, though they finally went 11-5 and won their division, even the most diehard fan could not deny that the organization has some holes to fill.
While the offense improved, and is on an upward trajectory, there are still tweaks to be made, and successors to be found. The defense has struggled, and is switching coordinators, which may call for a slightly different type of player.
So we’ll take a look at the Steelers roster position by position in the early offseason to determine how each group stacks up in terms of draft need. The next position to go under the microscope will be the running backs.
Le’Veon Bell: Perhaps the most complete running back in the league. He came on in a big way in his sophomore season, breaking franchise recorded en route to an All-Pro honor at the end of the year. His late-season injury largely helped derail the Steelers’ effectiveness on offense in their Wildcard loss.
Josh Harris: A bit of an unknown. He was seemingly the best of a bunch of undrafted free agent running backs during the preseason, and spent most of the year on the practice squad until he was promoted upon the release of LeGarrette Blount. He will need to show that he can be trusted with quality snaps next year.
Dri Archer: A largely wasted rookie season. While he didn’t do the most with the snaps he was given, the Steelers also struggled figuring out how best to use Archer’s skill set, which became especially difficult after he failed as a returner. A fresh start will hopefully do him good, provided that the coaching staff learns how to successfully make use of his talents.
Ben Tate: Likely to be gone soon. Tate was only signed because of Bell’s injury, and he only started in the playoff game because the coaches didn’t want to put an undrafted rookie in there in a pressure situation. A fumble and a missed block that resulted in an interception are some lasting images of his short tenure with the Steelers.
Draft Strategy: With Harris and Tate as the two current options to be Bell’s number two, and a deep running back draft class pending for this spring, it stands to reason that the Steelers may want to use this opportunity to draft a backup running back. They have tried the free agency route for a backup, and that has gone bust twice in a row now.
A premium pick need not be invested for this endeavor, however, after using two in the first three rounds over the past two drafts for running backs. A solid player could be had on day three, though an earlier option could present itself.