Now that training camp is here with the Pittsburgh Steelers back in Latrobe and gearing up for what they hope will be a much more productive season, it’s time to take stock of where the team stands. Specifically, where Steelers players stand individually based on what we have seen and are seeing over the course of training camp and the preseason and the regular season as it plays out. A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasoning for each one. 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 Jr.
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The third-year running back has put together a couple of good days now at training camp, showing some of the talent profile that drew the Steelers to him back in 2020 when they drafted him, including his speed.
The Steelers thought Anthony McFarland Jr. could add a different dimension to their running game when they drafted him in the fourth round in 2020. Up to this point, he has hardly even gotten on the field, and when he has, he hasn’t had the opportunity to do much with his few reps.
It didn’t help that he spent a good chunk of last season injured, and when he got back onto the 53-man roster, he was behind the rest of the group and on the bottom of the depth chart. This summer, he is fighting to reclaim his spot as the number three back and hoping that he actually gets used.
This week of training camp was a good start, showing the sort of speed and elusive capabilities that the Steelers saw in his college tape with Matt Canada as his head coach back at Maryland. Yesterday in particular, he made some nifty moves to elude tacklers, and even housed a long run.
Notably, he also made a couple of noteworthy catches during individual drills. The Steelers believed that he could expand his skillset as a pass catcher at the next level, so they are hoping that he can continue to develop in this area.
With that being said, his pathway is not uncontested for a roster spot. Rookie college free agent Jaylen Warren has drawn some attention, even if he put a ball on the ground yesterday. The recently-signed Master Teague III offers another bigger body type.
Competitions in the backfield are often best decided in the preseason. We can probably safely expect that Najee Harris won’t get much work, and I’m not sure how much Benny Snell Jr. will get, either, so there should be plenty of snaps for the likes of McFarland, Warren, Teague, and Mataeo Durant to work out who gets the final roster spot.