The Pittsburgh Steelers have numerous needs to be met this offseason if they want to vastly improve from the last two 8-8 seasons under Mike Tomlin, and the field is ripe with opinions. A need discussed of late is the running back position, and the Steelers have an opportunity to stack the deck in the running game with one very particular selection in the 2014 NFL draft.
The National Football Post posted Friday morning that the Steelers were one of four teams interested in Boston College RB Andre Williams. The Doak Walker Award winner was a beast in 2013 gaining over 2,000 yards and scoring 18 touchdowns. Williams is 5’11″ and came in at 230lbs during the combine. With a 4.5ish 40 time, Williams is thought to be a downhill style runner. He is a bruiser and has a very powerful core that can blast through defenders. Much like Steelers newly acquired RB LeGarrette Blount, Williams is powerful yet has a surprising gear when he breaks into the open field, making it challenging for the secondary to chase him down. He is balanced with his legs, and while he struggles in dodging would be tacklers, he has the ability to push through tackles and stay upright against would be tacklers. Scouts tend to look more at his running style rather than the amazing stats that would make you think he crushed through the line carry after carry. Williams did run behind one of the better blocking lines in college football, and as NFL.com points out, Williams had many 20+ yard carries where he was untouched at the line of scrimmage.
Williams would be a great rookie addition to the Steelers offense. He is very much a younger LeGarrette Blount. The Steelers would be stacking the deck in the running game if they drafted Williams. The table would be set for a similar 1-2 punch that the offense will currently have with Bell-Blount without putting the pressure on the team finances if Blount continues to run well enough to garner more cash in order to keep. Two young, powerful, energetic, and different running styled backs under the age of 25 would certainly put the Steelers running game and dominance back on the map.
If the Steelers have an opportunity to draft Williams in the second round, I could see them taking him. Williams is projected as a second or third round pick. The New England Patriots are another team interested in Williams, and since they lost Blount to the Steelers this offseason, they could be looking to replace Blount with someone like Williams. I doubt he will go past the second. If the Steelers take a cornerback in the first round, I can see them selecting Williams in the second round – leaving them to select a tall wideout in rounds three or later. A tall wide out has been a need Steeler Nation has been clamoring for about a year now. But should we be surprised if the Steelers wait that long – what have the Rooney’s done lately to show their ‘love’ of their $100 million QB lately?
Other draft considerations aside, Andre Williams would be a very solid second round pick and draw much excitement from much of Steeler Nation.