The Pittsburgh Steelers are now in Latrobe at Saint Vincent College, where they have held their training camp sessions since 1966. While the vast majority of the legwork of building the 90-man roster is done, there is always some fine tinkering to do. Now it’s time to figure out who is worthy of a roster spot, and what their role will be.
The team made some bold moves this offseason and in some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago. That would especially be the case at wide receiver and inside linebacker, where they’re bound to have new starters.
How will those position groups sort themselves out? How will the young players advance into their expected roles? Will the new coaches be up to the task? Who is looking good in practice? Who is sitting out due to injury?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Is Benny Snell the third-best running back on the roster right now, or by the end of the preseason?
While it’s not necessarily set in stone, it’s largely been taken as a foregone conclusion that fourth-round pick Benny Snell is going to make the 53-man roster as the number three running back behind third-year James Conner and second-year Jaylen Samuels. That was, after all, the plan when they drafted him, and they’ve done nothing but rave about him since.
Even if we take it as a given that the third and final running back spot belongs to him, however, that doesn’t mean we have to conclude that he is the third-best running back right now. After all, the Steelers do still have three running backs from last year’s roster, the other being Trey Edmunds, who has done his part when given the opportunity. Malik Williams looked intriguing at the end of the last game as well.
Snell, however, has made plays on special teams. He’s done well picking up blitzers in pass protection and shown good hands as a receiver. His total body of work as a pure runner currently is wanting, however, even though one must take things like yards per carry in the preseason with a grain of salt.
By my count, Snell has been successful on only seven of his 18 runs that did not draw a penalty, though he also converted on a fourth and one that was negated by a hold. You obviously want to see a better ratio than that, and some of that is certainly on him.