After the conclusion of the 2022 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers signed two undrafted free agent running backs in Jaylen Warren and Mateao Durant. Given that Pittsburgh didn’t sign a running back in free agency or draft one, it seems likely that one of Warren or Durant will have a good shot to make the roster, especially considering Pittsburgh’s lack of depth at the position. Durant recently spoke with 93.7 The Fan’s Jeff Hathhorn about his chances of making the team.
“I think I have a really good opportunity to make the team,” Durant told the show. “I’m just very excited to be able to get this opportunity to come out here and be able to play for a wonderful franchise.”
Durant also mentioned that he wants to be able to make an impact on special teams, which would definitely help his odds of making the roster. Durant’s ability as a speedy, one-cut runner makes him an interesting fit behind RBs Najee Harris and Benny Snell Jr. If I had to guess, Anthony McFarland’s time on the Steelers is just about over, and Durant could fill the role of a speed back who could potentially get some carries as a change of pace guy. He’s also shown flashes as a receiver, and with the NFL becoming more and more of a passing league each year, having a running back who can catch passes and make plays in space is always going to be a plus.
For any undrafted free agent, the key to making the roster is the ability to contribute in multiple facets of the game. Durant definitely needs to improve his pass blocking and toughness, but his willingness to play special teams and help out with that side of the game has to make the Steelers happy. If he can show the ability to contribute on special teams in training camp and in the preseason, he might have a leg up over his competition. Ultimately, I think both Durant and Warren have a shot to make the roster, and the one who doesn’t could stick on the practice squad. They both were extremely productive runners in college, and they provide different skillsets. While Warren is smaller, he’s more physical and can shake off contact as opposed to Durant who relies more on his speed and ability to make defenders miss.
Realistically, only Harris is assured a job in the running back room heading into this season, although Snell Jr. would likely be a surprise cut. The competition for the backup running back jobs will be a lot of fun to watch this summer, and I’m banking that either Durant or Warren or make the opening 53-man roster.