NFL Draft

Study: What The Steelers Look For In Drafting Running Backs

For the fourth year, we’re looking at the Pittsburgh Steelers draft history to determine who the best fits are for the current draft class. Using the measurables of the players they’ve drafted, we can attempt to predict who they’ll be most interested in for 2019. And also who they might not be interested in selecting.

An imperfect, inexact science of course but another piece of the puzzle we can add. Each year, we update it based on the selections made in the previous draft.

Before we start, some of the caveats I like to mention up front. For any timed event, 40 yard dash or shuttle time, I go only off Combine data. Pro Day numbers can be all over the place; the time announced often is different than what an individual organization clocks and we know these numbers are notoriously favorable to the players. For events with more clear-cut measurables, the bench, broad, and vertical, we’ll use the best number of the Combine or Pro Day.

We’re moving onto the running back group. As I’ve done in the past, we’re not counting Chris Rainey or Dri Archer here because let’s face it, they really weren’t running backs. Archer especially.

2018: Jaylen Samuels

Height: 5’11/4
Weight: 225
40 Time: 4.54
Bench: 18
Vert: 34.5
Broad: 10’1″

2017: James Conner

Height: 6’1/2
Weight: 233
40 Time: 4.65
Bench: 20
Vert: 29
Broad: 9’5″

2013: Le’Veon Bell

Height: 6’1/3
Weight: 230
40 Time: 4.6
Bench: 24
Vert: 31.5
Broad: 9’10”
Short Shuttle: 4.24
Three Cone: 6.75

2011: Baron Batch

Height: 5’9/5
Weight: 207
Bench: 24
Vert: 39
Broad: 10’6″

2010: Jonathan Dwyer

Height: 5’11/2
Weight: 229
40 Time: 4.68
Bench: 15
Vert: 33
Broad: 8’11
Short Shuttle: 4.67
Three Cone: 7.56

2008: Rashard Mendenhall

Height: 5’10/1
Weight: 225
40 Time: 4.45
Bench: 26
Vert: 33.5
Broad: 9’9
Short Shuttle: 4.18

Here is the criteria we’ll be using. It changes only slightly from last year, the bench rep benchmark dropping from 20 to 15. Samuels benched only 18 last year, the only category he missed in 2018.

Height: 5’10+ (five of six drafted)
Weight: 225+ (five of six)
40 Time: Sub 4.65 (five of six)
Bench: 15 (six of six)
Vert: 31+ (five of six)
Broad: 9’5″+ (five of six)

Name/School Height Weight 40 Time Bench Vert Broad
Alex Barnes/KSU 6’0/3 226 4.59 34 38.5 10’6″

Unfortunately, Barnes is the only one who makes it. The 225 weight requirement is a tough one for most to pass – only three players at the Combine even came in there or above – but it’s been consistent with how the Steelers drafted, Samuels included. The only exception was 7th round pick Baron Batch. Here are the players who missed in just one area.

Damien Harris/Alabama: Weight
Travis Homer/Miami (FL): Weight
Quadree Ollison/Pittsburgh: Vert
Miles Sanders/Penn State: Weight
Jordan Scarlett/Florida: Weight
L.J. Scott/Michigan St: 40
Dexter Williams/Notre Dame: Weight

This list looks pretty familiar, doesn’t it? Four of the players have been brought in for pre-draft visits while Kevin Colbert was at Notre Dame and Michigan State’s Pro Day. Harris is closest to the weight requirement at 216. Homer is furthest away at 201.

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