2023 NFL Draft

Steelers Depot Draft Discussion Part II: Running Backs Who Should Interest Steelers

This is the second in a 10-part series that concludes on April 26, the day before the 2023 NFL Draft starts. Each day Depot staff members offer their spin on a Steelers-related draft question. 

GM Omar Khan trades into the fifth or sixth round with the intention of drafting a running back. Who are you taking if you are Khan?

Joe Cammarota: I’m taking a change-of-pace guy. Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren are workhouses who can pound you, but the Steelers don’t have an explosive running back who can hit the home run. If the team is going to draft a running back, the guy I like is Keaton Mitchell. The East Carolina running back is elusive and fast. He ran a 4.37 40-yard dash and on tape he consistently shows that speed, breaking big runs.

Mitchell is also slippery and breaks a decent amount of tackles. He can’t be an every-down back but the Steelers don’t need that. He brings something different, and drafting a running back would be a luxury not a need, so why not go get the speedster?

Josh Carney: I’m going to be a bit biased here and pound the table for my Syracuse brethren in Sean Tucker. I want the combination of some power and high-end speed in a third running back behind Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, and that’s what Tucker provides. At 5092, 207 pounds, he’s well built with a thick frame, runs well behind his pads and can really wear down defenses. On top of that power and durability, he’s legitimately a track star with home run speed, competing for the Orange track and field team outside of football season.

He has yet to have his own individual Pro Day, which he scheduled for April 24 due to an injury. There he should put on a show. Tucker is third all-time in Syracuse history in rushing yards (3,182) and holds the single-season record for his 1,496-yard performance in 2021. That’s just behind names like Jim Brown and Ernie Davis. Quite the rare company.

Joe Clark: Let’s go and grab an absolute tank who ran for 1,795 yards and 28 touchdowns over the past two seasons in Utah’s Tavion Thomas. Thomas grew up a Steelers fan in Dayton, Ohio and was a super productive runner when healthy. He’s got really good power, which you should expect for a guy who’s 6’3, 237 pounds but he’s got surprisingly good balance while also being a capable pass blocker. It’s not the sexiest pick, but Thomas is the type of back that takes a toll on the defense just to bring down. He would be a nice pairing with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren.

Jonathan Heitritter: If I get the selection of a running back on Day Three, I’m taking Eric Gray from Oklahoma. The guy looks eerily similar to Aaron Jones coming out of UTEP, having a near identical frame, running style, and skill set as a slasher as well as a receiver. He would be a great complement to Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren in the backfield and I’m calling him to be a big-time value selection for whoever takes him in the later rounds.

Alex Kozora: You mean after I duck and cover from Twitter hating my guts for drafting a RB? I love my North Dakota State Bison this year. Give me Hunter Luepke. Tough, physical, with some decent speed, many draftniks are expecting him to move to FB at the next level. Why not both? Some RB, some FB, I bet he’ll be a hard-edged special teamer as a former standout high school linebacker. Maybe it’s a little hat-on-a-hat with Connor Heyward but when you have talented players, you make it work. You figure it out.

Thank you for reading and please drop your answer to the question below.

Previous Depot draft discussions:

Two draft scenarios


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