The Pittsburgh Steelers have made fixing their struggling running game a very high priority this offseason after ranking dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game (84.4) and yards per carry (3.6) in 2020. Additionally, the Steelers ranked 29th (90.4) and 31st (90.3) in rushing yards per game in 2019 and 2018, respectively. Because of those continued running game woes over several seasons it wasn’t a bit surprising to hear head Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert both get asked questions about how they intend to fix the offensive rushing attack during their Monday pre-draft press conference.
“The improvements in the running game go beyond just the acquisition of additional players,” Tomlin said on Monday. “We’re capable of performing better than we have, players aside. Schematics, formations, the things that we do to give ourselves a strategic advantage need to be improved, and that’s some of the things that we’re working on.”
Tomlin’s comments can certainly be considered part of the reason why both offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and offensive line Shaun Sarrett didn’t have their contracts renewed by the team earlier in the offseason. Instead, the team chose to replace them with quarterbacks coach Matt Canada as the new offensive coordinator and assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm as the new offensive line coach.
With Canada and Klemm now in place the Steelers will now look to the 2021 NFL Draft to find upgrades in their offensive personnel. That figures to include the team drafting a running back, a center, a tackle and maybe even a blocking tight end beginning less than 48 hours from now.
As for the Steelers running back depth chart right now, it includes the likes of Benny Snell Jr, Jaylen Samuels, Anthony McFarland Jr., and newcomer Kallen Ballage. One could easily argue that that group of top four is the worst in the NFL entering this year’s draft. In all likelihood, the Steelers will add one of Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams or Trey Sermon to their running back room in the next 72 hours.
As part of the Steelers expecting to address their offensive line in the draft on the heels of center Maurkice Pouncey retiring, guard Matt Feiler leaving via free agency and tackle Alejandro Villanueva expected to do the same, expect the team to draft a center in the first two days of the draft and tackle within the first four rounds.