The Pittsburgh Steelers have several needs at various positions ahead of the 2017 NFL Draft and while I have already outlined them in a previous post, I will now go position group by position group and detail each of them. At the end of these summaries will be my recommendation as to if the Steelers should address the discussed position during the draft and when.
I will start this series off with a look at the running back position.
Le’Veon Bell – While Bell is not currently under contract for the 2017 season, that figures to change in a matter of weeks as the running back will likely be issued the franchise tag. Once that course of action takes place, one could easily speculate that the two sides will then start working on a long-term extension over the course of the summer and on into training camp. With all of that said, there’s still no guarantee that Bell will sign a long-term deal and especially not prior to the 2017 NFL draft taking place. On top of everything else are the concerns that Bell still hasn’t been able to make it through an entire season healthy and the fact that he’s already missed several other games due to suspensions.
DeAngelo Williams – On the surface, it appears Williams is willing to play at least one more season and the Steelers are seemingly open to possibly re-signing him. Even if that ultimately occurs, Williams’ clock is ticking as a reliable backup. The fact that he had an issue with one of his knees in 2016 is it yet another concern that Father Time is not too far off from ending his career. I like Williams and hope he’s ultimately re-signed at an affordable price. If that happens, however, the Steelers still need to know that another option behind him might ultimately be needed at some point during the 2017 season and most definitely beyond.
Fitzgerald Toussaint – Toussaint has done well to stick in the league as long as he has, but with that said, he’s at best a fringe roster player moving forward and definitely not viewed by the team as starter-material. His special teams contributions are limited and that’s yet another concern. While Toussaint is now back in the fold on a one-year exclusive rights tender, that will come with no guarantees that he’ll make the 53-man roster in 2017 out of training camp.
Karlos Williams – There’s currently a lot of optimism from the Steelers fan base when it comes to this Williams and if you saw him play during his rookie season you certainly understand why that is. Understand, however, that Williams still has a lot to prove not only to the Steelers, but the league as well as he’s already been suspended twice. While Karlos Williams recently had his 10-game suspension lifted, he apparently still has another game that he’ll have to serve and thus probably can’t be counted on to make the initial 53-man roster out of training camp.
Recommendation: As you can see, there’s currently quite a bit of uncertainty surrounding the Steelers running back depth chart not only for the 2017 season, but beyond. Because of that uncertainty beyond Bell, the Steelers would probably be wise to spend, at the very least, an early third-day draft pick on another running back in what looks to be deep class this year.