The Pittsburgh Steelers used their first three picks on the first two days of the 2019 NFL Draft to double down on the three areas of their biggest concern, repeating the positions they addressed in free agency by adding additional personnel at inside linebacker, wide receiver, and cornerback.
With their first pick on the third day of the draft, the front office began attacking their secondary priorities, beginning with finding more depth at running back by adding Benny Snell, Jr. out of Kentucky. Snell is a player who felt like a Steeler during the pre-draft process, and running backs coach Eddie Faulkner made it clear that the organization agreed with that assessment.
“It’s very evident when you sit down with this young man how much he has passion for the game, how much he loves it, how much he likes being around it”, he told the media just earlier today in his post-selection press conference to address the selection of Snell. “We were very interested in finding somebody who had a passion and just loves football, and that’s Benny Snell”.
“As soon as you turn on his tape and watch how he plays the game, he mirrors that same amount of passion”, Faulkner added about the big back. “Plays physical, plays hard, quite honestly represents the Steeler brand as you watch him play as a football player”.
This marks the third consecutive year in which the Steelers used a mid-round selection on a running back after previously bringing in Pittsburgh running back James Conner in the compensatory portion of the third round in 2017 and adding Jaylen Samuels out of NC State in the fifth round a year ago.
All three will work together to replace the player that was supposed to be the Steelers’ brand at the position for a long time, Le’Veon Bell, who signed with the New York Jets in free agency earlier this year after sitting out the 2018 season.
During that time, Conner emerged as a legitimate starting running back in his own right, making the Pro Bowl after rushing for nearly 1000 yards and adding about another 500 receiving yards with 13 total touchdowns in 13 games, missing three due to an ankle injury.
The three games that Conner missed were started by Samuels, who had a big game on the ground against the New England Patriots. He scored three touchdowns as a receiver. But with the addition of Snell in the fourth round, the Steelers will have the option of using multiple backs, and perhaps allowing for more specialization.
Snell is yet another running back who very much fits the profile of what the Steelers have looked for at the position for many years, with the rare exceptions of Chris Rainey and Dri Archer. He will continue the organization’s brand, joining a stable that the team already feels good about.