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Thread: Premier running back would return Steelers to championship level

  1. #1
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    Premier running back would return Steelers to championship level

    Premier running back would return Steelers to championship level

    By MATT STEEL

    Let's assume the Steelers can maneuver their salary cap to re-sign Bud Dupree and B.J. Finney. Should the front office sign both, the Steelers, I believe, would be on the verge of possessing a championship-caliber roster.

    Defensively, every player of major significance would be under contract for two more seasons. Finney would add youth and experience to the interior line whether he starts at left guard in 2020 or at center soon. His signing would buy the Steelers another year before they need to address the position early in the draft. The front office would be left with only two positions that could use a dynamic upgrade for the 2020 season.

    To fit in both Dupree and Finney financially, Vance McDonald likely would be released. Regardless if McDonald stays or goes, tight end should be a high priority position in the draft. I just don't see a dynamic talent at that position to be had in the second round. Hunter Bryant has more of a chance of being a Gerald Everett or an Irv Smith Jr. than he does being a dynamic game-changer. I'm not sure Brycen Hopkins is anything more than a Hunter Henry type. In other words, nothing that changes the game.

    The Steelers should seek a weapon in the draft, a player that brings great effectiveness to the play-action pass. A running back would likely have the greatest chance of becoming that dynamic player who can significantly contribute to the offense as a rookie and beyond.

    James Conner has shown he can play at a high level, but he just hasn't shown he can absorb contact well enough to stay healthy, and he, at pick 105 in 2017, was the highest-drafted back the Steelers possess.

    Five of the sixth playoff teams in the AFC have a running back starting who had been selected inside the top 75 picks. Dalvin Cook, Derrick Henry, and Alvin Kamara are first-round talents who slid into the second round due to the devaluing of the running back position, yet running back has proven to provide the best immediate value of any position in the draft.

    Without a first-round pick this April, it only makes sense that the Steelers draft a first-round talent with their second-round pick. With the current state of the Steelers quarterback position, and the high-end talent they possess defensively, becoming a run-first/play-action team should become a top offseason priority. Of the elite eight teams remaining, six run first to set up the pass. With arguably the best defensive unit in the league (assuming Dupree is retained), it only makes sense to become one of those run-first type of offenses.

    The Steelers return four running backs next season, so it's not a pressing need. But none of those four can be counted upon as game-changers, for whom opponents have to game plan. Therefore, here are the draft candidates the Steelers can't pass up at the running back position in Round Two if one happens to be available:

    1. Johnathon Taylor will be long gone before pick 49. But with so many good running backs, system preferences could lead to an unexpected slide. Taylor is thick through his legs. It's hard for defenders to wrap up his thighs/hips. Taylor will move the pile. But what's unique about him is his ability to hit the home run to go along with the power. Taylor is patient and has good feet. He looks a little tight laterally, but he isn't. Taylor has good feet and lateral quickness for a back his size. His hands have steadily improved throughout his career. There might be slight concern over the amount of carries Taylor has had in his three years at Wisconsin. If anything that allows him to slip to pick No. 49, it's his average receiving ability.

    2. D'Andre Swift is another home run hitter with the ability to moved the pile. More fluid than Taylor, but less of a pile mover/down-and-distance creator. That doesn't mean Swift isn't good at creating down and distance. Like Taylor, Swift is a three-dimensional back who's a capable receiver. But like Taylor, there's very little chance Swift will last until pick 49. I really can't figure out which back I like more between Swift and Taylor. I like that Taylor has run the ball from a more conventional offense. The hope here is that the Steelers return to running the ball from under center, as we're seeing with a handful of the eight teams remaining in the playoffs. Couple that with what can tell looks like a special kid with very good family structure, I'm currently giving a slight edge to Taylor. Though it matters very little when evaluating either pipe dream.

    3. Travis Etienne - If I were certain about Etienne in pass protection, I might have him at the top of this list. Concern about Etienne's receiving skills were eased by two huge receptions in the national semifinal game against Ohio State. I'm not sure he can be used in receiver-type route concepts like a Kamara, but Etienne can be lethal on well-designed screen passes. The two TD receptions in the semifinal showed off Etienne's unique home run hitting speed. His explosive speed is different from everybody on this list. The New England Patriots were able to contain the Tennesee Titans play-action game in Saturday's wildcard round largely by playing two safeties deep and letting Henry get his yards. Do that with Etienne and you'll likely be leaving yourself susceptible to home runs. A player with Etienne's speed forces defenses to have to honor the running game to where it would be risky to play two safeties deep (it's one of the reasons why Kyle Shanahan prefers speed at the position). Another unique quality about Etienne is his feature running back size at 210-215 pounds. Etienne might not carry a workhorse load but with Kerrith Whyte and Benny Snell (and Conner for another season) on the roster, he won't have to. With that size, Etienne has also shown an ability to run with power. Etienne lasting to pick 49 is possible, but doubtful.

    4. J.K. Dobbins is a more realistic option. Built like a bowling ball, Dobbins has also shown home run hitting ability. Good but not great hands. Dobbins' hands cost The OSU eight points in their semifinal loss to Clemson. But I loved the way Dobbins gutted out his ankle injury. Dobbins has good vision. He's tough to bring down once he gets a head of steam. He'll move the pile for you once he gets going a couple yards past the line of scrimmage. If he's met at the line of scrimmage, he's going down at the point of contact. All rookies usually have some room for improvement in pass protection. Dobbins is physically capable of being good in that area as well.

    5. Najee Harris is a running back who has a chance to sneak into the first-round that and who's sliding under the radar. Harris was the number one recruit in the country three years ago. At 6-2, 230, this kid is a specimen. There are a lot of similarities between Harris and Le'Veon Bell. Like Bell, Harris is the type of back that when the defense meets him at the line scrimmage, he'll still leverage his way to pick up a couple yards. It's very difficult to drop him for no gain. Compare that to Dobbins for example, who can move tacklers a couple yards as long as he's past the line of scrimmage but will get dropped if he's met at it. It's such an underrated quality in a back. Harris should be a huge asset in setting up short down and distances or in short-yardage situations. Besides moving defenders, Harris has shown unique athleticism in jumping over them. He's also a very good receiver out of the backfield. With great size, Harris offers outstanding three-dimensional capabilities as a pass protector. Harris offers great ball security, fumbling only one time in his career. He also hasn't had the wear and tear of a Taylor because of Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs being ahead of him in the pecking order for two seasons. This is one of the reasons a large part of the draft community is sleeping on him. Bell was looked at as more of a third-round prospect when the Steelers selected him in the second round in 2013. I can see something similar happening here. Bell ran a 4.6 flat. I expect Harris to show an extra gear and run a tenth or two under 4.55. If Harris can run in the high 4.4's, I think his value could move into the late first/early second-round discussion.

    All four NFC representatives remaining in the playoffs run similar versions of run-first/ play-action-pass type of offenses. Tennessee is doing the same in the AFC. Deshaun Watson and Lamar Jackson are the types of athletes at quarterback who allow for those teams to run different systems, even though both still rely on strong running games to succeed.

    With the Patriots dynasty coming to an end, gone is the myth that you need to sling it around the yard to keep up with the Bradys, Mannings, and Brees of the league. And as Mike Tomlin is in the process of self-evaluation, he certainly must recognize that strong running games with the play-action pass are being built to support a strong defense, protect the football, and set up big plays.

    Diontae Johnson is a star in the making. James Washington should continue to improve. I have all the confidence in the word in Juju Smith-Schuster bouncing back, provided he stays healthy. I would feel confident in the Steelers' chances with a blue-chip running back with either Roethlisberger or Rudolph is behind center, provided they put in the system to optimize the talent that exists on their roster and add a game-changer at the running back position.

    https://247sports.com/nfl/pittsburgh...ers-141767337/
    Last edited by hawaiiansteel; 01-07-2020 at 03:56 PM.

  2. #2
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    I agree. I know we have 4 RB’s but 3 of them aren’t game changers. Hell, even Snell hasn’t shown that yet.

    If a guy like Dobbins is available we better take him.
    Tomlinís coming back so what can you do?


  3. #3
    Legend

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    Run first will best be accomplished by strengthening the Oline which is "soft" and made for pass protecting.

  4. #4
    Legend

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    Let me correct myself, "if" the quality level is the same, go interior line...if the RB is superior as a back to any lineman...Best Available Player, period

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Lemming View Post
    Let me correct myself, "if" the quality level is the same, go interior line...if the RB is superior as a back to any lineman...Best Available Player, period
    This. (10 chars)
    Talent vs coaching: [url]www.planetsteelers.com/forums/showthread.php/48851-Poll-Question-for-Everyone/page14[/url]

    Steelers vs. Other Teams with good QBs: ... /47985-Steelers-most-successful-failure/page5

    Tomlin playoff record vs. expectations (Cowher pg24): ... /48742-Rooney-Brown-meeting/page22

    Tomlin's Las year: ... 49599-Just-sayin?p=778284#post778284

    Maniac Talent>Coaching: ...49632-Trades?p=779158#post779158

  6. #6
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    I’m partial but I’d love to see JK Dobbins in the black and gold. Dude is underrated and a warrior. Too bad he’ll be long gone before the Steelers make a selection.

  7. #7
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    5 RBs taken before pick 49?!?.... the most taken before that pick in the last 5 yrs is 3.....

  8. #8
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    We had a "premier back" a couple of years ago, but didn't win a championship. Not sure why getting such a RB now would guarantee that we get there.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain Lemming View Post
    Let me correct myself, "if" the quality level is the same, go interior line...if the RB is superior as a back to any lineman...Best Available Player, period
    Now your talking.
    From the 2010-2019 season, (A 9 year period that the majority of Cowher's players & coaches had left) Mike Tomlin has only won 3 playoff games. And two of those wins were against back up Quarterbacks.
    Dolphin fans in the 90ís who wanted to hold on to Don Shula for what he did in the 70ís...

    Are the same as Steeler fans (of 2020 ) holding on to Tomlin for what he did in 2008.

    [url]http://www.planetsteelers.com/forums/showthread.php/50121-A-Positive-View-of-they-Draft/page17[/url]

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Buzz View Post
    We had a "premier back" a couple of years ago, but didn't win a championship. Not sure why getting such a RB now would guarantee that we get there.
    Well, the formula we are now going for is great defense with a strong running game. A proven formula for success.
    From the 2010-2019 season, (A 9 year period that the majority of Cowher's players & coaches had left) Mike Tomlin has only won 3 playoff games. And two of those wins were against back up Quarterbacks.
    Dolphin fans in the 90ís who wanted to hold on to Don Shula for what he did in the 70ís...

    Are the same as Steeler fans (of 2020 ) holding on to Tomlin for what he did in 2008.

    [url]http://www.planetsteelers.com/forums/showthread.php/50121-A-Positive-View-of-they-Draft/page17[/url]

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