Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
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. 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 season as we move forward.
Player: RB Benny Snell
Stock Value: Even
Reasoning: I found it a bit too much to argue that his stock is down, but it’s certainly difficult to argue that running back Benny Snell did much to boost his stock with his play over the course of the 2020 season.
Depending on how the rest of the offseason goes, the 2021 season could be a career-defining one for Benny Snell. It’s all but assured that the Steelers are not going to re-sign James Conner, so at least as far as the current roster is concerned, that leaves the former Wildcat as the team’s lead runner.
Snell has recorded over 100 carries in each of his first two seasons, but he did so rather inefficiently in 2020. On 111 rushing attempts, he only picked up 386 yards, averaging a less than pedestrian 3.3 yards per carry.
Some of that can be accounted for in the fact that much of what he was asked to do involved short-yardage work, which lends itself to a lower per-carry average yardage total. But that certainly can’t account for the totality of the inefficiency.
He did score four touchdowns on the ground, and he was a bit more involved in the passing game. His blocking in pass protection is…generally sufficient, and he certainly has the ground to improve in that area, as well as everything else he would be asked to do.
The question is what he will be asked to do, and how much of it. We can’t entirely rule out the possibility that the Steelers could sign a relatively cheap veteran running back to compete for the majority of the carries, for one thing.
For another, they are already on a four-year streak of drafting running backs, with Conner followed by Jaylen Samuels, and then Snell and Anthony McFarland. Samuels is obviously not here for the long term, either, and the jury is still out on McFarland, so just because they have these draft picks doesn’t mean they won’t be looking to upgrade the backfield to help improve what is arguably the worst run game in the NFL.