A little bit about the strengths & weaknesses of each Steelers RB in draft slot order:
Conner, James 17/3 “The Presumed Starter”
Conner is a average or slightly above-average runner who gets some mileage out of volume–value that is somewhat mitigated by his issues with fumbling (once every 90.4 touches) and durability. He has some size the steelers like but a thin lower frame that probably keeps him from having the power and long-term health to accompany large volume. His best attributes, however, are in the passing game, where he is the best pass protector on the team and his knack for getting out to release has made him a top 15 receiving back in the NFL each of the past two years. He’s the presumed #1 until further notice.
Snell Jr., Benny 19/4 “The Special Teams Contributor and Short-Yardage Back”
Snell is probably the best short-yardage back they have… which is a low bar. His propensity to got down on first contact is troubling for a short-yardage and 4 min offense RB, though, and he needs to come back to camp or whatever represents the start of 2020 in better shape and weight to get enough burst to me more than a big STs contributor.
McFarland Jr., Anthony 20/4 “The Speedy Wildcard with Inside Connections”
Mcfarland adds top-end speed only Kerrith Whyte can match and which the others can only dream of. His connection with the OC and HC will provide him every opportunity to fail, which is a big part of RB success. On tape, he’s decisive and can turn a 5-6 yd run into a 40 yard gain in a hurry. Whether than speed to the edge will translate in a bigger and faster level of football is a question, as it is with all prospects coming into the league. Worst-case, he needs at least a close loss to Kerrith Whyte, best-case, he’s challenging to be the primary back in the rotation.
Samuels, Jaylen 18/5 “The James White/Mewelde Moore/Verron Haynes 2rd Down Back”
Samuels struggled last year with both injury/playing hurt and especially with the situations he was put in by the QBs and OC. He spent a lot of time getting the ball when defenses were stacked and on pass targets where the ball was late and he was smothered by coverage. You could almost see the frustration of: “You didn’t throw it 3 seconds ago when you saw me standing by myself and now you’re going to give it to me so that I can get plastered?” In 2018, Samuels was 3rd in the entire NFL in RB pass receiving efficiency, behind only Kareem Hunt and Matt Brieda (Samuels had nearly twice the receiving efficiency on a play by play basis as Alvin Kamara). He’s easily the best pass receiving back they have which, if you look at the order RB prospects come off the board in the NFL now, is a value not to be underestimated. I’d slow the roll on assuming he’s gone.
Whyte Jr., Kerrith 19/7 “Best Pure Runner on the Team but About To Be 2020’s Diontae Spencer”
As a runner, Whyte had the best DVOA efficiency of any Pittsburgh Steelers back of the past three seasons. That means, adjusted for strength of defense, he did a better job getting more than half the yards to go on 1st down and getting the1st down on 3rd or 4th down on all carries than 2017 Bell or 2018-2019 Conner, Samuels, or Snell. He wasn’t utilized in the pass game––1 target and 1 reception for 9 yards––but he seems suited to get the ball in space. He’s also the fastest Steelers RB, having run a 4.37 40 compared to Mcfarland’s 4.44. Like Snell, fact that Whyte has been the team’s best runner is more likely due to the low bar than his high talent, but he does see hole, hit hole very well and can’t be completely discounted, especially if he outperforms others by a fair margin in camp/preseason/whatever starts the year.
Webb, Ralph UDFA 18 ” Rest Up Kid, Because If There’s a Final Game Of Preseason or Last Week Of Camp, We’re Running You Into Oblivion”
It was nice knowing ya.