The Steelers ground attack took a turn for the worse in 2019. A big reason was that James Conner was way less effective this past year compared to 2018. Conner averaged 4.5 yards per carry to go along with 12 touchdowns in 2018. That number went down to 4.0 and 4 TD’s in an injury riddled season. General manager Kevin Colbert expressed confidence in James Conner as the Steelers primary runner.
“I always go back to James Conner had acute injuries in 2019. In 2018, he avoided that and put up a Pro Bowl season,” Colbert said, via the team’s website. “He’s still a young, ascending player, and when healthy, he’s an NFL Pro Bowl player. Again, that’s a hope. I know James will enter the season healthy, but you know, can we complement it, we’ll see. But I’m not going in thinking we don’t have a starter-capable runner because I know James Conner is.”
Colbert addressed the media on this topic because there has been speculation that the Steelers could target a running back early in the draft. Colbert didn’t necessarily rule that out but his logic on Conner sounds more than reasonable. Pittsburgh also has some depth on the roster already. Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell, Kerrith Whyte, and Trey Edmunds.
It remains to be seen if Pittsburgh will draft a RB or not. You would think if they do it would have to be early. Samuels and Snell have proven to be good depth pieces. Samuels could still be an H-Back of sorts. Snell only averaged 3.9 yards per carry last year but I thought he showed some promise. What Pittsburgh doesn’t have is a small shifty back that resembles Le’Veon Bell.