Steelers draft capsule
The following is the second of seven Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 NFL draft position-by-position analyses:
Currently on roster: Le’Veon Bell, Knile Davis, Fitzgerald Toussaint, Brandon Brown-Dukes, Gus Johnson, Dreamius Smith, Trey Williams
Last five drafts: The Steelers hit the jackpot with Bell with the 48th pick of the 2013 draft. They didn’t have much success drafting smaller backs — Dri Archer (2014, third round) never made an impact and is currently not with a team, and Chris Rainey (2012, fifth round) was released during his rookie year after a battery charge and is currently in the Canadian Football League.
Top running backs available: Dalvin Cook, Florida State; Leonard Fournette, LSU; Christian McCaffrey, Stanford; Joe Mixon, Oklahoma; Alvin Kamara, Tennessee
The Steelers might select: Kareem Hunt, Toledo; Marlon Mack, South Florida; D’Onta Foreman, Texas; Wayne Gallman, Clemson; James Conner, Pittsburgh
Analysis: The Steelers placed the franchise tag on Bell, who is arguably the most complete back in the NFL but whose biggest problem is staying healthy for a complete season. The Steelers might not want to overwork Bell during the 2017 season, but they no longer have DeAngelo Williams as a veteran backup. They brought in fifth-year back Davis, who was with the Packers, Jets and Chiefs twice last season. Toussaint is still in the mix, too, but the Steelers would be wise to try and add to their backfield in the draft. They’ll have higher priorities, so they’ll pass on the top-level backs in the draft, but expect them to go after a back in the middle rounds, hoping to get someone like Hunt, Mack or Foreman in the fourth round or Gallman or Conner in the fifth or sixth round.
Currently on roster: Roosevelt Nix
Last five drafts: Fullback is not a position on which the Steelers place a high priority.
Top fullbacks available: Sam Rogers, Virginia Tech; Freddie Stevenson, Florida State
The Steelers might select: Rogers
Analysis: The Steelers don’t use the fullback much, and Nix seemed to handle the job pretty well for the last two seasons, especially on special teams. Because the Steelers will most likely be looking for a running back in the middle-to-late rounds, someone like Rogers might be worth a pick in the sixth or seventh round. He could be a force on special teams and be able to catch passes and block on offense. However, drafting a fullback does not appear to be a likely scenario.
Coming Saturday: Quarterbacks/specialists