One of the things that I will be keeping an eye on this offseason is how much Mike Tomlin and the Steelers look at the Fullbacks at the NFL Scouting Combine coming up and if they take one in the 2012 Draft this April. The Steelers do have a FB on their roster, David Johnson, who is technically a Tight End but he doubles as a lead blocker in certain situations. The Steelers used to never be without one on their team, most recently Danny Kreider comes to mind. A no nonsense, lunch bucket, type of player. A guy who’s not afraid to take on any linebacker or defensive lineman in order to try and open up a hole. The Bruce Arians offense in Pittsburgh had no use for a full time blocker of that nature, so that’s why they used Johnson as a stop gap when they wanted extra big guys in to help block.
Johnson is not a bad blocker, but I for one would like to see the team spend a roster spot on a full time Full Back. It’s not as though you’d be wasting a roster spot because those guys normally play on special teams as well. Just because you do use one in your offense doesn’t mean you have to go back to the 3 yds. and a cloud of dust mentality. The Rooney’s have stated on more than one occasion in the last couple of seasons that they want the Steelers to run the ball more effectively. One of the good ways to do that is stick a blocker there in front of Isaac Redman & Rashard Mendenhall, much like the Giants do with Brandon Jacobs and Ahmad Bradshaw. It would seem to me that if Art Rooney II and Dan Rooney want Mike Tomlin to run the ball more effectively they would need only to look at the Giants in this post season to get their point across.
As a team in the playoffs, the Giants rushed 112 times for 466 yds, that’s a 4.2 ypc. average, basically spot on with what you would ask of a ground attack in terms of yards per carry. Both Jacobs and Bradshaw are quality Running Backs, and the Giants believe in being balanced on offense. Eli Manning can carry a team when he has too but the Giants will do everything they can to not put any one player in a position to have to win the game alone. The Steelers will be looking for that type of balance on their offense when they begin building their system for the 2012 season. This is where I think a Fullback can be quite handy. Case in point, Henry Hynoski, went to the University of Pittsburgh, a 6’1″ 266 lb. battering ram for Tom Coughlin’s group. It wouldn’t be fair to say that Hynoski is the reason that New York is so successful running the ball but he is a part of it nonetheless. Mike Tomlin wanted to sign Hynoski at one point but he ended up in the big apple and I’m sure is quite happy with his situation now. The Giants offensive line is pretty darn good and that has a lot to do with it.
A fullback would not be the end all be all fix for the Steelers, let’s not kid ourselves. The Offensive Line still has to be top priority no matter what, and there’s still a question on how quickly Rashard Mendenhall can recover from the torn ACL he suffered in the final game of the regular season. Is Isaac Redman going to take over as the starter, will Mendenhall be able to contribute in a solid manner at all in 2012? These are questions that Tomlin and his coaches have to think about as they make the decisions that will ultimately help decide how the offense will go. I think most fans would agree that a Fullback in on the offense is a pretty good place to start.