Steelers draft capsule

Analysis

The following is the third of seven position-by-position Steelers 2018 draft analyses:

RUNNING BACKS

Currently on the roster: Le’Veon Bell, James Conner, Stevan Ridley, Fitzgerald Toussaint, James Summers

Last five drafts: It’s hard to believe Bell (second round, 2013) has been in the league just five seasons. He is certainly one of the Steelers’ top draft picks in the last decade. Dri Archer (third round, 2014) was a speedster but couldn’t take the pounding of the NFL. Conner (third round, 2017) showed potential in his rookie season but blew out his knee late in the year. It’s questionable on whether he could be a season-long workhorse back.

Top running backs available: Saquon Barkley, Penn State; Derrius Guice, LSU; Sony Michel, Georgia; Rashaad Penny, San Diego State

The Steelers might select: Guice in the first round; Kerryon Johnson, Auburn, in the second round

Analysis: The Steelers have arguably the best running back in the league in Bell, but their relationship with him is awkward at best. They put the franchise tag on him again this year, and he indicated he’ll skip all 2018 offseason workouts and training camp again. It didn’t seem to bother him last season, but the Steelers might be ready to send a message to Bell by taking hard-runner Guice with their first pick at No. 28 (Barkley will be long gone by then). It would be surprising, but Guice could eventually pair with Conner if Bell and the Steelers part ways. The Steelers have some depth with Conner, Ridley and Toussaint, so it doesn’t appear that they’d select a running back with their later picks. They should either go after a top tier back or none at all. If they pass on Guice, Johnson, a patient runner like Bell, could be another option with their second pick.

FULLBACKS

Currently on the roster: Roosevelt Nix

Last five drafts: The Steelers haven’t drafted any fullbacks in years.

Top fullbacks available: Jaylen Samuels, N.C. State; Dimitri Flowers, Oklahoma

The Steelers might select: None

Analysis: Nix excels on special teams and when used sparingly in the backfield. The Steelers don’t need to waste a pick on a traditional fullback.

Coming Sunday: Wide receivers/tight ends

— Buck Frank

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