Now that training camp is underway, and the roster for the offseason is close to finalized—though always fluid—it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen happen over the course of the past few months.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends, such as an accumulation of offseason activity. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the summer as we move forward.
Player: RB Benny Snell
Stock Value: Up
While the running game was very disappointing this year, perhaps we can take some comfort in the belief that Benny Snell’s rookie season was the best the team has had from a running back since Le’Veon Bell’s, when he instantly was named the starter.
One might be inclined to argue that Jaylen Samuels had a better year in 2018, but I could argue the case for Snell, who clearly had more success purely as a runner. And he is also already a better pass protector than the player one year his senior.
Finishing off the year on a high note is always a good thing, of course, and he was able to account for the Steelers’ only touchdown in the 28-10 season finale on Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens. It was his second touchdown of the season in one of his better overall games.
He carried the ball 18 times, behind only the 21 carries that he received back in Week 12, which was his first game returning from a knee injury. He produced 91 yards on the ground, averaging 5.1 yards per attempt, including that one touchdown, doing so all on just 25 snaps.
In fact, Snell only played 30 or more snaps in a game just once this season, in spite of the fact that James Conner missed a lot of time this year. In all, he recorded 108 rushing attempts, putting up 426 yards on the ground with two touchdowns. He only caught three passes all season for 23 yards, but on just four targets. While his ball security was overall a positive, he did fumble once, losing the ball in a costly moment, albeit one from which they would recover.
Right now, it’s hard to say what the future holds for the running back position. Conner is going into his final year, and he has had too many injury issues to place too much confidence in him, which even Mike Tomlin somewhat alluded to during his Tuesday press conference. The division of labor in the backfield in 2020 is far from determined as we sit here on the second day of the year.