In Ryan Wilson’s latest mock draft for CBS, he has the Pittsburgh Steelers focusing on the backfield with their 2nd round pick. In his three round projection, which unfortunately did not include comp picks, he has the team selecting Wisconsin RB Jonathan Taylor at #49. Wilson didn’t offer any blurb for the pick but it’s easy to see why the national media has been hyper-focused on the position.
Owner Art Rooney II has made it clear the Steelers need to fix their woeful running game that was among the NFL’s worst in 2019. They were 26th in attempts, 31st in yards, 28th in touchdowns, and 27th in yards per carry. Multiple injuries in the backfield resulted in James Conner “leading” the team with 464 yards.
Taylor is considered one of the best backs of the class especially after his Combine workout, running a blistering 4.39 40 at 226 pounds. On paper, he fits the mold of what the team looks for. He has size and elite production, rushing for over 2000 yards in nearly three straight seasons (he fell 23 yards shy of the mark as a freshman) against quality competition. Given his testing, it’s fair to wonder if he’ll slip as far as #49. Taylor was his second RB off the board in this mock behind Georgia’s D’Andre Swift, who went #32 to the Kansas City Chiefs.
There’s also other ways for the Steelers to fix their running game without investing that heavily in the position. Ben Roethlisberger’s return will naturally help to some degree. Finding or improving the tight end blocking and changes to the run scheme will also be beneficial. Outwardly, Kevin Colbert has expressed confidence in Conner and when Conner’s healthy, he’s a talented back capable of being an every-down player.
Elsewhere in Wilson’s mock, he has Joe Burrow going #1 to Cincinnati. A whopping six receivers went off the board in the first round, a testament to the strength of the class. Tight end is among the weaker groups, the first one going off the board with Notre Dame’s Cole Kmet all the way down at pick #62.