The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.
After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.
The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will one of the top three running backs in the draft class be available for the Steelers to pick in the second round?
At the start of the offseason, it seemed as though there was a clear though premature consensus around Alabama’s Najee Harris as the top running back coming out of college this year. Since then, however, Travis Etienne and Javonte have been gaining a lot of attention, each of whom has a case to make for being the top pick at the position.
Last year, there was not a running back taken until the final selection of the first round, when the Kansas City Chiefs grabbed Clyde Edwards-Helaire out of LSU, but the Detroit Lions didn’t wait long in the second round to select the second, taking De’Andre Swift with the third pick in the round, and than Jonathan Taylor was drafted by the Indianapolis Colts at 41. Cam Akers lasted until pick 52, and then the Baltimore Ravens landed J.K. Dobbins right where the Steelers are picking this year, at 55—as the fifth back in the class.
On the other hand, there were only two running backs taken within the first two rounds of the 2019 NFL Draft. The same can be said of the 2016 Draft—though more often than not, there are typically four or five backs taken by then.
I’m not sold on the Steelers pulling the trigger on a running back in the first round, at least when looking at their current needs, but if they can fill a couple more holes before then, there’s a better chance of them doing so. If not, they’ll have to sit tight and see who’s available, or trade up if possible.