We started this series with a little over two weeks remaining to the draft, knowing that nearly all of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pertinent personnel decisions will have already been made. Over the course of the series, we will be reviewing the team’s roster turnover position by position in an effort to help us project what their plans will be for the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Steelers had eight primary players scheduled to be unrestricted free agents this offseason and have re-signed only one of them, that being Bud Dupree on the franchise tag. Unrestricted free agents who signed elsewhere were Javon Hargrave, B.J. Finney, Sean Davis, Tyler Matakevich, Nick Vannett, and Artie Burns. They re-signed a number exclusive rights or restricted free agents, chiefly Matt Feiler and Mike Hilton, as well as Zach Banner, Kameron Canaday, and Jordan Dangerfield on non-tender one-year deals. The deals of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Haden, Steven Nelson, Maurkice Pouncey, Chris Boswell, and Vance McDonald were all restructured.
Also of note were the releases of Mark Barron, Anthony Chickillo, Johnny Holton, and Roosevelt Nix, and the retirement of Ramon Foster, as well as three significant signings in free agency, adding a new fullback in Roosevelt Nix, a potential starting lineman in Stefen Wisniewski, and a new tight end in Eric Ebron.
Position: Running Back
Total Positional Figure: 7
Offseason Additions: 0
Offseason Deletions: 0
James Conner: Pro Bowl ability with a body that seemingly won’t let him live up to his full potential. James Conner has dealt with serious injuries every year of his career, and even had injuries in college as well—not to mention battling cancer in between. Now in the final year of his contract, he has to prove he can get through a season healthy if he wants to stay in Pittsburgh.
Jaylen Samuels: Samuels regressed in his second season, posting woeful efficiency numbers, though not every game was bad. He does have good hands, and we’ve seen him more elusive as a rookie. He did have a knee injury early in the year that likely affected him.
Benny Snell: A rookie last year, Snell had opportunities to contribute due to injury, though he too had a knee injury during the season. He showed potential as a volume carrier who has the ability to round out his repertoire as a potential complete back.
Kerrith Whyte: Signed off the Bears’ practice squad late in the year, Whyte’s first NFL touch was a 21-yard run. He has big-play speed, but would only be sparsely used. His presence as a kick returner will help his job security.
Trey Edmunds: It’s almost surely back to the practice squad for the elder Edmunds brother, where he’s begun each of the past two years before being called up due to injuries at the position.
Ralph Webb: First signed to the practice squad in December at the end of the 2018 season, he has been here more or less since then.
Darrin Hall: A Pitt alum, Hall was a late addition to the practice squad last season. Yes, the Steelers finished the season with seven running backs in total.
Players Added: N/A
Players Deleted: N/A
Notes And Draft Outlook:
Opinions are divided over this. Will they draft a running back high? Will they draft one at all? Should they? I don’t think they have to to get through the 2020 season, but is James Conner in the cards beyond this year? And if not, do you want to address it now? It will ultimately depend upon how the draft board falls.