I think it's pretty obvious that we will be drafting a RB. Even if we do sign a veteran, I still think it makes a lot of sense to draft a nice young back to the mix. If Bradshaw gets healthy and they sign him, I am OK with that, but considering his history of injuries, they still should draft a back. Plus, rookies are the cheapest talent out there, especially after the first round, and, honestly, I don't see a single back who needs drafted at 1:17. That being said, here are our options, open for discussion.
33 *Eddie Lacy, Alabama rJr 5-11 231 1-2
I like Lacy more than some. Some say his production is exaggerated by playing behind a line that was NFL caliber. They say he often has a clean 6 yards of open space before he even gets touched, hence his perceived skills are inflated. But, more than not, I believe people who say that are mostly envisioning the Notre Dame game. Lacy played in the SEC, and in case anyone forgot, the SEC has wicked defenses. LSU, FL, GA and company have mad talent on their front 7. Lacy went up against all of them. I think Lacy is going to be a very good NFL back. He might not be as special as Trent Richardson (who I think is going to blow up this year), but if you watch him, he has a blend of speed, burst, balance and power. He would make a great Steeler back. If Pgh thought he would go before their 2:17 pick, I wouldn't mind a trade down to pick up another draft pick, and grab Lacy in the early 2nd round, perhaps picking up an extra 3rd round pick in the process.
64 *Giovani Bernard North Carolina rSo 5-9 202 2
He is very talented. No question. But he is small. No, not just short, but small. And he has an injury history. He is sloted to go in the 2nd. I find that to be too much a gamble. If he was still around in the 4th or 5th or 6th, maybe worth the risk. But not worth the gamble in the 2nd in my opinion. He did put up a monster game vs. VA Tech (262 yards) but just can't see risking it with a 2nd round pick.
77 Johnathan Franklin RB 3 UCLA rSr 5-10 205 2-3
Really productive, but again, on the small side. Is he an every down NFL back? Most think he is more of a 3rd down/change of pace back. If Pgh doesn't go RB in 1 or 2 and he is still there at 3:17, I might not mind the pick at that point. They certainly could do worse things in the 3rd (as Colbert tends to screw up by that round).
83 *Joseph Randle RB 4 Oklahoma State Jr 6-0 204 2-3
Another back on the smallish side. Runs a little too upright. They say his running instincts are good, but does miss some holes sometimes. Very athletic and ripped and lean. Again, if they didn't get a back yet and he is there at 3:17 I would probably be OK with that pick.
89 Andre Ellington RB 5 Clemson rSr 5-9 199 3
More of a water bug, zero power, all speed and illusiveness. Not a bad back to have but I'd be more comfortable with a 5th round on him like they did with Rainey.
93 Montee Ball RB 6 Wisconsin Sr 5-11 214 3
Finally, after Lacy, a back who has some size and power. Many think he would make a good Steeler back. He lead the nation is rushing with 1,900+ yards, but that can be a little deceiving as running behind the WI O line can enhance production. Lets not forget that Ron Dayne was the highest ever college back in yards and he sucked as an NFL RB. Also ball has a lot of wear on his tires. I don't know how many years he will have at the NFL level. They say he is like a Curtis Martin, but to be honest, he reminds me more of a Barry Foster. (Curtis was more fluid with less power than Ball in my opinion.) Again, if he is there in the 3rd, I wouldn't have a problem with picking him there. I like this kid's over all power, balance, instincts, enough speed to get around the corner.
102 Stepfan Taylor RB 7 Stanford Sr 5-9 214 3
113 Christine Michael RB 8 Texas A&M Sr 5-10 220 3-4
126 *Le'Veon Bell RB 9 Michigan State Jr 6-2 230 4
I am skipping down to Bell, as that is who I most wanted to discuss. I am scratching my head over why this guy isn't rated higher. He has serious size and speed ratio. His weaknesses are that he doesn't have blazing speed, but how many great backs didn't? Sure, in an ideal world you want Adrian Peterson but that package just doesn't exist all that much. Emmitt Smith had the same label - not that much speed - and all he did was become the all-time leading rusher in the NFL's history. Bell sometimes delays too long to find a hole (Arrrrrg, not another Mendenhall) but he also can explode through a hole once he finds one. At 230 pounds, he has 4.56 speed. That is a big, fast man. Some slight rumblings over him being a little selfish, "me first" but that can be checked.
Then there is this from CBS Sports.
It appears the Steelers are thinking the same way I am, and no, I didn't form these opinion AFTER knowing Pgh showed a lot of interest in this kid. I would be fine with them using a 3rd on him. Out of all the options, I like Lacy and Bell the most, with Bell being perhaps more intriguing because he can be nabbed later. Thoughts?The Pittsburgh Steelers were well-represented at Michigan State's pro day, with head coach Mike Tomlin, running backs coach Kirby Wilson, tight ends coach James Daniel, as well as general manager Kevin Colbert in attendance.