The Steelers have no more need at any position than they do at halfback. The last time they were in such a spot, they drafted one in the first round and won a Super Bowl. Rashard Mendenhall did not contribute much to that 2008 team. Ray Lewis ruined the rookie's first NFL start with a vicious tackle that broke Mendenhall's shoulder in the season's fourth game. The Steelers went on to win their second Super Bowl in four years with Willie Parker as their leading rusher. Parker, one of the heroes of their 2005 Super Bowl victory with a record 75-yard touchdown run, was undrafted. Jerome Bettis, the team's second-leading career rusher and a Hall of Fame finalist, was acquired in a trade. Barry Foster, who owns the Steelers' single-season rushing record, was a fifth-round draft pick. Merril Hoge, their leading rusher three times between 1988 and 1991, was a 10th-round draft pick. Hoge will announce the Steelers' second pick in the draft Friday night at Radio City Music Hall in New York and it could be their next halfback. The Steelers are not expected to draft a running back in the first round, not unless they make a trade that drops them lower than their No. 17 position. That is deemed too high for any of the halfback candidates in this class, including Alabama's Eddie Lacy, judged by most to be the only sure-fire first-rounder in the bunch. The second and third rounds, however, could be a running back bazaar because that is where the value for them seems to be this year. "Lately there's been a lot of running backs in the second, third or fourth rounds," said NFL.com analyst Gil Brandt, who worked for 29 years as the personnel man for the Dallas Cowboys. "Guys like Alfred Morris from [the Washington Redskins] was a late-round pick. As [colleges] go away from running the ball like we used to, we're finding more quarterbacks and receivers than developing running backs." Morris, drafted in the sixth round last year, set the Redskins rushing record with 1,613 yards. So much for that college development. So much for needing to draft them in the first round. Arian Foster joined the Houston Texans after he went undrafted in 2009. He ran for 1,616 yards in 2010, 1,224 in 2011 and 1,424 last season. The Steelers have three such backs on their roster. Jonathan Dwyer, who led them with 623 yards rushing last season, was a sixth-round pick in 2010. Isaac Redman, second with 410 yards last season, was not drafted. Baron Batch was taken in the seventh round. The Steelers are determined to add to that list and perhaps put a back at the top of it. They had three veteran free-agent backs in for visits -- Ahmad Bradshaw, Beanie Wells and LaRod Stephens-Howling. Mike Tomlin would not rule out signing a veteran halfback. "Really, it depends on how the draft unfolds and what we do prior to the draft," Tomlin said Monday. "Obviously, we have a number of days before the draft." They could do both.
Luckily for Steelers, plenty of value at running back in draft
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette | Apr 24