As usual, the Pittsburgh Steelers will be expecting their second-year players to make big jumps in 2020 and one of those players in that group is running back Benny Snell Jr., the team’s 29019 fourth round draft pick out of Kentucky. On Monday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was on “Coffee with Cal,” hosted by Kentucky men’s basketball coach John Calipari, and during the interview he was asked to comment on the prospects of Snell, a Wildcat alum, in 2020.
“Man, you’re talking about competitors, Benny is a tough-minded kid,” Tomlin said of Snell. “He’s a competitor. I think that’s the thing that attracted me to him when he was down there doing it for your Wildcats. I watched that guy tote that load and beat the [Florida] Gators and I understand how tough them SEC wins are. And for a guy in that position, it just spoke about his football character, his toughness, and he’s displayed that since he’s been with us. And working his tail off.”
In limited playing time as a rookie, Snell rushed for 426 yards and 2 touchdowns on 108 carries. He also caught 3 passes for another 23 yards and chipped in 4 total special teams tackles. Snell would have likely contributed even more during his rookie season had he not missed three games with a knee injury.
How much offensive playing time will Snell see in 2020? It’s hard to say for sure and it probably mostly depends on the health of fellow Steelers running back James Conner. Conner, who is slated to be the Steelers primary running back again in 2020, has missed a lot of games so far during his NFL career due to injuries. Even if Conner stays healthy in 2020, Snell stands a good chance at probably touching the football at least 100 or more times in his second season.
“I’m excited about year-two,” Tomlin said of Snell. “You know how it is, you’ve been a lap around the track, you kind of know how to ground is laid. He had some contribution to us a year ago and it’s reasonable to expect him to just continue to take off and be a big-time guy for us.”