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Evaluating The Value: RB James Conner

With the 105th pick in the 2017 NFL draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers select … James Conner, running back, Pittsburgh.

Wow!

What a pick for the black and gold. James Conner is a great feel-good story and one heck of a running back. The fact that he’s a local product coming out of PITT is sugar on top.

Let’s get this out of the way early:  Conner isn’t a sentimental pick. He’s a guy that will come in right away and work his butt off while providing the Steelers with a legitimate change-of-pace back behind Le’Veon Bell.

At 233 pounds, Conner is shifty for his size, but he’s not a burner and isn’t really a threat as a receiver. Just this past season he showed he’s able to stay on the field on third downs in pass protection while being able to catch the ball on swing routes, but that’s about it.

He’s not going to be a third-down back, and he’s not going to be a pass-catching threat, but he’s going to be a bruiser that the Steelers can turn to in hopes of sealing wins while saving Bell for the stretch run. He has really good vision

In terms of my grade for him, I had Conner pegged as a fifth-round guy in this running back class, so this is a bit of a reach for me, considering South Florida’s Marlon Mack, Oklahoma’s Samaje Perine and Clemson’s Wayne Gallman were on the board.

But that doesn’t mean this isn’t a great pick for the Steelers. It’s quite clear they were much, much higher on Conner than most draftniks, which is fine. Who better to have a feel for Conner the person and the football player than the Steelers, who share a facility with the Panthers?

It’s a reach, but how can you hate this pick? Honest question.

This is a pick that is going to make all of Steeler Nation happy, as Conner should be able to produce right away as the clear No. 2 behind Bell.

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