Despite the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers would seem to have finally hit on a good back up running back for Le’Veon Bell after they went out and signed free agent DeAngelo Williams this offseason, on my draft board, I still have the position as a high priority on day three.
Simply put, I think it would be a mistake to go out of the draft without taking a running back of at least some pedigree, because I don’t think they have anybody on the roster who would be able to start a game for the Steelers in, say, 2016.
I do believe that Williams will be a strong option in 2015, and will in large part be able to help the Steelers bridge the gap between the first three games, during which Bell will be suspended, and the rest of the season.
I do have to question whether or not he will even be on the roster next season, and at what level he will be able to perform. Running back in particular is a position in which many veterans suddenly fall off a cliff in terms of performance, and Williams would be 33.
I am not sold on the potential for Josh Harris to develop into a legitimate number two running back who can be a spot starter in the event of injury. Excluding the long run that was negated by penalty, when I watched Harris run last year, I felt that the offensive line blocked for more yards than he picked up.
I do figure that Harris will be on the roster in 2015, at least for the first three games of the season anyway, as Bell serves his suspension. After he returns, it would not surprise me if he is moved back to the practice squad, although that will depend on how he performs, assuming he does get his share of carries during this time.
I think it goes without saying that Dri Archer, at his height, weight, and skill set, would never make a legitimate number two running back. The coaching staff has given the impression that they would be satisfied if he could give them about a half-dozen quality touches per game once he is integrated into the offense.
With arguably no legitimate option on the roster for a number two back a year or two from now, in other words, it would behoove the Steelers to try to find one of them now. It would give him the opportunity to learn for a year behind Bell and Williams before taking on a larger role.
The fact that the 2015 class is as deep as it is at running back, with quality players to be found in abundance beyond the first three rounds, would make it doubly unfortunate if the Steelers should fail to come away with a good ball carrier on the third day of the draft. The overall quality of the later rounds is stronger than usual, and that fact should be taken advantage of.