Pre-draft visits can tell you a lot. Who the team is interested in, who they’re not, but also what positions they’re most likely to address in the draft. We conducted a study on it two years ago and came away finding out there’s a strong correlation between the number of players brought in at a position and what spots they end up addressing in April.
Seeing the Pittsburgh Steelers bring in two more running backs today, Florida’s Jordan Scarlett and Miami FL’s Travis Homer, should set off some alarm bells. Even with James Conner and Jaylen Samuels on the roster, they could still invest a relatively high pick in the position.
Those two make for five running backs invited for a pre-draft visit so far, the most of any position group to this point. Granted, one of those backs, Miles Sanders, should be counted as a local visit but still, it’s more than any other area. Earlier in the offseason, Colbert commented that the “numbers are really good” at running back.
That tells me there’s decent odds the Steelers take a back somewhere early on Day Three, using their fourth or fifth round pick. Heck, I won’t even rule out the latter of their thirds, #84 overall, if there’s a back they really like, perhaps someone like Alabama’s Damien Harris if he were to fall that far.
And it’s with good reason too. Conner played really well last year. He made it easy to forget about Le’Veon Bell. But he isn’t without concern, seasons shortened by injury his first two seasons. Samuels had his moments, a great showing against New England, but does a 5th round pick who wasn’t drafted as a defined runner prevent you from taking another back? Probably not.
If Conner goes down, or even Samuels, you want there to be a strong #2. Someone to split some time, spell the other for a series, be a solid safety net. It’s unlikely that #3 is going to come from anyone currently on the roster. Trey Edmunds’ odds don’t look hot even with his cup of coffee last season with the team, only seeing a handful of snaps on special teams. Everyone else hasn’t played an NFL snap – Ralph Webb and Malik Williams were signed to futures contracts. Names that certainly don’t inspire much confidence nor would prevent the team from investing at the position.
While it was always possible the Steelers were going to select a back, it seems less likely to come with one of their final picks. Instead, something in the 4th to 5th round range seems like a legitimate possibility.