by Ryan Lang
Photo courtesy of Steelers Depot.
With the Pittsburgh Steelers about to begin play in 2023, Draft 412 will review each position, its depth and potential.
Today, the Steelers running back group goes on the clock:
RB 1: Najee Harris - 6’1” 242 lbs.
Najee Harris was drafted by the Steelers in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft out of Alabama. Though he has rushed for 1,000 yards in each of his two seasons, many believe he hasn’t put it all together yet. He is a workhorse back that can carry the ball 20-25 times a game. He has had issues at times hitting the right holes and can be frustrating to watch on film. Yet Harris has shown improvement over each of the past two campaigns and with the Steelers' rebuilt offensive line, he could be set to deliver his best season as a pro.
RB 2: Jaylen Warren - 5’8” 215 lbs.
Jaylen Warren was undrafted out of Oklahoma State but impressed the Steelers from day one at Latrobe, making their opening day roster last season. Warren was a bigger part of the offense than expected, rushing 77 times for 379 yards and a touchdown, and caught 28 passes for 214 yards. He was a change of pace back, running with more speed and subbing on obvious passing downs, and fans should expect a greater role for Warren in 2023-24 based on last year’s promising results.
RB 3: Anthony McFarland Jr. - 5’8” 193 lbs.
Anthony McFarland Jr. was drafted by the Steelers in the 4th round of the 2020 NFL Draft and has not been quite the player that Pittsburgh thought he would be. After playing 11 games in his rookie season, he has only played in 3 games combined in the past 2 seasons. Thought to be a 3rd down back who could stretch defenses, injuries have kept McFarland off the field, and a roster spot is no guarantee.
RB 4: Darius Hagans - 6’0” 210 lbs.
Hagans was signed as an UDFA this year out of Virginia State. He posted 2,069 rushing yards and 17 rushing touchdowns in 3 years at Virginia State. He has performed well in his short time in camp, and could be pushing McFarland for that RB3 spot. He has good hands and may grow into the third down back the Steelers envisioned for McFarland.
RB 5: John Lovett - 6’0” 209 lbs.
John Lovett just finished playing 10 games in the XFL for the Vegas Vipers before signing with the Steelers. There, he had 496 yards from scrimmage.
Lovett has previous NFL experience, signing with the Carolina Panthers last season as an undrafted rookie. While in Carolina, he led the Panthers in preseason rushing yards and bounced on and off the Panthers' practice squad all year.
Collegiately, he played one season at Penn State, rushing for 177 yards, and spent his previous 4 seasons at Baylor University, rushing for 1,803 yards and 15 touchdowns. Lovett is another name to watch battling for that RB3 spot.
RB 6: Greg Bell - 6’0” 200 lbs.
Bell was released by Detroit in July and was recently picked up by the Steelers. Bell attended 3 different colleges (Arizona Western Community College, Nebraska, and San Diego State) and accumulated 4,000 rushing yards and 33 touchdowns during his NCAA career. He will have his work cut out for him to make the roster or a practice squad spot.
Draft 412 Analysis
Overall, the running back depth for the Steelers isn’t horrible, but they are thin at the spot. One or two longer term injuries may cause a nightmare scenario for the squad.
Draft 412 expected the Steelers to look at a veteran running back to help with depth and would not be shocked to see a veteran added to the roster before the regular season begins.