2022 Stock Watch – RB Anthony McFarland – Stock Down

Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.

Player: RB Anthony McFarland

Stock Value: Down

Reasoning: The second-year running back was very nearly a complete non-factor in his second season in the NFL, struggling to ever get a hat on game day, in spite of the fact that he possesses unique speed in the Steelers’ backfield and the team having promoted his former college head coach to offensive coordinator.

It cannot be a good sign if you can’t get on the field in the NFL when you have your college play-caller calling the plays for your offense. And second-year running back Anthony McFarland, a fourth-round pick out of Maryland, didn’t simply not play. He almost never even dressed.

He only got a helmet twice all year, and both instances involved injuries at other positions. But the fact that the Steelers almost never took rookie running back Najee Harris off the field didn’t help anybody else at the position.

After all, even Benny Snell only got 36 carries all season, for 98 yards. Kalen Ballage, who won the number three running back role in training camp, recorded 12 rushing attempts for 36 yards. McFarland had three rushes for three yards.

Steelers current offensive coordinator Matt Canada was the Terrapins’ offensive coordinator and interim head coach during the 2018 season in which McFarland excelled on the field. He raved about Canada during the NFL Scouting Combine in 2020 before he was even drafted by the Steelers.

That relationship hasn’t much helped him get on the field, though it can’t go without noting that he was injured to start the season and was on the Reserve/Injured List. When he came back, however, it was still almost as if he was never there.

If he wants to get a regular helmet in 2022, he’s probably going to have to earn a return job. The Steelers did toy with the idea of putting him back there during training camp and the preseason, so that’s probably something he should focus on this offseason, which will help him even just to make the 53-man roster, certainly no longer a guarantee.

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