Steelers News

Kerrith Whyte Looking Forward To ‘Very Beneficial’ Offseason With Time To Learn Offense

What will the Pittsburgh Steelers’ running back unit look like in 2020? Likely, exactly the way he looks this year—or at least, consisting of the same pool of players. They actually finished the year with five running backs on the 53-man roster, while they ordinarily keep only three when they also have a fullback, with an occasional fourth.

There has been a strong push among some to make the argument that the Steelers should be looking to draft a running back early—as in with their first or second pick (thus in the second or third round {as a compensatory pick})—while others find it hard to see that position as such a pressing concern relative to other definite and projected ‘holes’ on the roster.

The Steelers have drafted a running back in the middle rounds in three consecutive years, starting with James Conner as a third-round compensatory pick in 2017, who would make the Pro Bowl a year later. Jaylen Samuels was added in the fifth round in 2018, and then Benny Snell was drafted out of Kentucky in the fourth round a year ago.

Finally, they capped it off with the acquisition of Kerrith Whyte, a seventh-round pick of the Chicago Bears in the 2019 NFL Draft. They signed him off of Chicago’s practice squad with six games left in the season, and though he played sparingly, he made several big plays within his limited opportunities.

Ordinarily, when the Steelers sign a player off of the practice squad, they give him a two-year contract, so I would assume he’s under contract for 2020. At the worst, he would simply be an Exclusive Rights Free Agent and be easily retained. Either way, it’s hard to imagine him not being here for the offseason.

Just being thrown into something is always more difficult”, he told Chris Adamski of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “So if I am here during the offseason, I feel like it would be very beneficial for me to really learn the offense in and out and all the scheme, stuff like that. But I am just happy to be here”.

Whyte has something that the rest of the running back room doesn’t—and hasn’t for years. He has speed, reportedly running a 4.36 40-yard dash at his Pro Day, and we saw that on several plays in-game late last season.

With the opportunity to actually develop in the Spring and Summer, perhaps he can be really worked into the offense in ways that are not ordinarily possible for a rookie acquired in Week 12. He’s not going to be your lead back, or anything like that, but he can potentially be a nice complementary runner to go along with bigger backs like Conner and Snell.

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