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Contextualization Of Career College Explosive Runs By Steelers RB Benny Snell Jr.

The Pittsburgh Steelers selected Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. in the fourth round if the 2019 NFL Draft and that selection seems to have a large portion of the team’s fanbase excited and that’s certainly understandable when you go back through his tape from the last three seasons. However, as we start our deep offseason breakdown of Snell, we’ll begin by taking a closer look at his career explosive runs of 20 yards or more that he had at Kentucky and contextualize each.

Officially, Snell is listed as having 30 runs of 20 yards or longer during his college career. After going through the Kentucky gamebooks, however, I was only able to identify 29 in total. If your curious as to how Snell’s college career explosive run totals and percentages stack up against the other top running backs in this year’s draft class, you can see that data in the first graphic below, which is sorted by best to worst 20+%.

While it’s a loose comparison all the way around, you can see how it’s somewhat easy to compare Snell’s college statistical production to that of former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell. Look closely at the 20+% for each player from their respective college careers. As you can see, both weren’t known in college as being able to deliver a high percentage of explosive runs. That obviously isn’t the end of the world and especially when you consider that the first running back drafted this year, Josh Jacobs out of Alabama, enters the NFL with a lower career 20+% than Snell’s. That noted, Jacobs did produce a much higher percentage of runs that resulted in gains of at least 10 yards than Snell did, albeit on quite a few less carries.

Now it’s time to look at each of Snell’s explosive runs from his college career from a contextualized standpoint. For starters, 9 of the 29 runs of 20 yards or longer that I identified Snell as registering during his college career resulted in touchdowns with his longest such one being 71 yards.

While 3 of these 29 explosive runs came with Snell receiving the snap of the football as a Wildcat quarterback, all of those came during his freshman 2016 season. 18 of these 29 runs came against loaded boxes that included 7 of more defensive players seemingly being able to play the run.

As you go through these plays, you also should notice that Snell was virtually untouched in the first 10 to 15 yards or more on several of them. When he is touched, it’s usually a feeble arm tackle attempt. A high percentage of these runs below include Snell running between the tackles and you’ll also notice that quite a few come out of the pistol formation with Snell lined up right behind the quarterback.

Another observation concerning these 29 explosive runs is that 14 of them came during the second half of games. Additionally, 12 of the 29 total came on 1st and 10 plays. The final observation I will point out is that 21 of these 29 explosive runs of 20 yards or longer that Snell had during his college career came against SEC teams.

Made no mistake about it, Snell enters the NFL as more of a power runner and one who won;’t be mistaken as having a lot of speed. Even so, Snell showed that he could break the occasional explosive run in college and against stacked boxes as well. In the NFL with the Steelers, Snell isn’t likely to register a huge percentage of explosive runs. That said, his percentage of 20+ runs could come in slightly higher than what Bell registered during his career in Pittsburgh as Bell has a running style that isn’t as patient.

YEAR OPP QRT TIME DWN DIST SIDE LOS YDS TD WC BOX VIDEO
2016 MSST 2nd 5:29 2 9 UK 12 27 ? ? NO VIDEO
2016 MSST 3rd 6:26 3 9 MSST 34 34 Y 5 VIDEO
2016 MIZ 3rd 7:05 1 10 MIZ 44 32 7 VIDEO
2016 UGA 3rd 10:59 2 10 UK 44 26 Y 6 VIDEO
2016 TENN 1st 4:41 2 8 TENN 43 27 8 VIDEO
2016 TENN 3rd 14:31 1 10 TENN 36 20 Y 7 VIDEO
2016 PEAY 2nd 7:01 3 15 PEAY 30 30 Y 6 VIDEO
2016 PEAY 3rd 10:35 1 10 PEAY 48 48 Y Y 8 VIDEO
2017 EK 3rd 3:05 1 10 UK 25 25 Y 6 VIDEO
2017 MIZ 2nd 5:50 3 2 UK 29 71 Y 7 VIDEO
2017 TENN 1st 11:39 2 3 TENN 39 27 5 VIDEO
2017 TENN 1st 1:08 2 5 MID 50 48 6 VIDEO
2017 TENN 2nd 8:31 2 10 UK 25 23 6 VIDEO
2017 MISS 1st 13:17 2 1 UK 44 22 7 VIDEO
2017 MISS 4th 8:36 2 3 MISS 44 21 7 VIDEO
2017 VAN 2nd 11:23 1 10 VAN 22 22 8 VIDEO
2017 VAN 2nd 7:12 1 10 UK 13 38 7 VIDEO
2017 LOU 1st 5:49 1 10 UK 20 41 7 VIDEO
2017 LOU 4th 10:05 2 17 UK 48 33 7 VIDEO
2018 CMU 2nd 4:11 2 10 UK 48 52 Y 7 VIDEO
2018 UF 2nd 3:17 1 10 UK 20 44 7 VIDEO
2018 UF 4th 2:44 3 1 UK 34 20 10 VIDEO
2018 MSST 1st 11:24 1 10 UK 44 22 7 VIDEO
2018 MSST 3rd 9:11 2 6 UK 34 20 7 VIDEO
2018 MSST 4th 8:09 1 10 MSST 36 36 Y 8 VIDEO
2018 MSST 4th 3:53 1 10 MSST 23 23 Y 6 VIDEO
2018 VAND 4th 12:31 3 4 UK 26 22 6 VIDEO
2018 LOU 2nd 13:03 2 2 LOU 24 24 Y 7 VIDEO
2018 PSU 3rd 14:59 1 10 UK 35 32 6 VIDEO
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