2022 Exit Meetings – RB Jaylen Warren

The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted before they even reached the postseason, which unfortunately marks the sixth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—tying their longest drought of the Super Bowl era. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.

The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-8 and nearly making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Haden to most of their wide receiver room, not to mention Stephon Tuitt’s decision to retire.

While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2022 season.

Player: Jaylen Warren

Position: RB

Experience: 1 Year

Now that we’ve covered the Steelers’ backup quarterbacks, we shift our focus to the running back depth chart. That begins with last year’s camp darling, undrafted rookie Jaylen Warren, who emerged as a fan favorite and a very productive rotational player in the offense.

One of two running backs signed as college free agents after the 2022 NFL Draft along with Mataeo Durant, Warren didn’t receive much chatter until training camp, and really that only started once the pads came on. His first major props came during the anticipated backs on backers drill, where he was one of the stars.

That was the beginning of his ascent, and by the end of the preseason it was clear that he was the number two back. Yet at the time it was not clear exactly what that would entail. He played pretty sparingly initially, about 15-20 snaps in the first four weeks, but his playing time crept upward after that.

Toward the end of the year, the coaching staff even talked about wanting to try to get him on the field for about 30 percent of the offensive snaps, still somewhat staggering considering the team’s history with bell-cow backs.

But he got that respect because he earned it. He rushed for 379 yards on just 77 attempts with one touchdown, adding 214 receiving yards on 28 catches, the first undrafted rookie to total 500-plus yards from scrimmage in a while.

Equally important is the fact that he proved capable as a pass protector, even earning the third-down back role. It’s a huge vote of confidence for a college free agent rookie to be asked to be in for pass protection, especially for a rookie (presumptive) franchise quarterback.

With that being said, it’s not as though he doesn’t have room to grow. My biggest area I would like to see improved is an ability to get more out of the routine runs. He averaged nearly five yards per carry, but he also had nine runs of zero or negative yards. I would like to see his run success rate climb higher—and to his credit, it did later on in the season.

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