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Steelers Should Find a Hidden Gem at HB Late in the Draft

January 28, 2015
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Steelers Should Find a Hidden Gem at HB Late in the Draft

Steelers 2015 NFL Draft

The emergence of so many rookies wide receivers in 2014 — six had more than 750 receiving yards — should not have come as a surprise in one sense.

Analysts had said leading up to the draft that it was unusually flush with talented wideouts, and the depth at the position allowed the Steelers to wait until the fourth round to take Clemson’s Martavis Bryant.

Bryant caught 26 passes for 549 yards and eight touchdowns despite only dressing for the last 10 games. The 6-foot-4, 212-pounder has a rare blend of size and speed and is on his way to becoming one of the top deep threats in the NFL.

Any other year, ESPN NFL analyst Matt Williamson said of Bryant, and “I guarantee you he’s a second-round pick. He happened to fall and (the Steelers) jumped on him. I think that will be even more of a case this year with running backs.”

That is excellent news for the Steelers, who are in the market for running back depth — and should have learned from the LeGarrette Blount debacle not to bring in a veteran who has expectations of playing significant snaps.

Le’Veon Bell is clearly an every-down back as he showed during a breakout season that merits MVP consideration, and only turns 23 next month.

But Bell’s absence in the Steelers’ AFC wild-card loss to the Baltimore Ravens due to a hyperextended knee also magnified the need for the team to upgrade behind him.

This may be the perfect year to do it even with the Steelers expected to focus on defense in the draft.

A running back hasn’t been selected in the first round of the draft since 2012 and ESPN Minnesota Vikings reporter Ben Goessling recently wrote about how devalued the position has become in the NFL.

What that means for the Steelers is that quality running backs will get pushed down the draft through no fault of their own and should be available in the middle of the draft, if not later.

Consider that St. Louis Rams running back Tre Mason, who led all rookies with 765 yards rushing, was a third-round pick. The second-best rookie rusher, New York Giants running back Andre Williams (721 yards), was selected in the fourth round.

The Steelers would be crazy to consider drafting a running back before the fourth round. But in a draft class that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. agrees is deep at running back they should be able to find one in those middle rounds who can help them.

 

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