Injuries to running back James Conner during the 2019 NFL season certainly hurt the Pittsburgh Steelers' ability to run the ball, but general manager Kevin Colbert alluded to the possibility of nabbing a rookie rusher in this week's upcoming 2020 NFL Draft.
“I always go back to James Conner had acute injuries in 2019. In 2018, he avoided that and put up a Pro Bowl season,” Colbert said, via ProFootballTalk. “He’s still a young, ascending player, and when healthy, he’s an NFL Pro Bowl player. Again, that’s a hope. I know James will enter the season healthy, but you know, can we complement it, we’ll see. But I’m not going in thinking we don’t have a starter-capable runner because I know James Conner is.”
Conner, turning 25 years old in early May, was limited to just 10 games for the Steelers during the 2019 season due to injuries, rushing a total of 464 yards on 116 carries, scoring four touchdowns.
Conner was a first-time Pro Bowl selection for the 2018 campaign following running back Le'Veon Bell's contract holdout and sit-out with the Steelers, eventually leading to a signing with the New York Jets last spring.
Besides Conner, the Steelers' running back corps is rounded out by rising sophomore rusher Benny Snell Jr., taken by Pittsburgh in the fourth round of last year's draft class, and rising junior running back Jaylen Samuels, selected by the AFC North club in the fifth round in 2018. The two combined to rush for 601 yards on the ground, scoring a total of three touchdowns.
Clearly, even with a healthy Conner, the Steelers can improve in this area of the game, possibly through the draft, which starts Thursday.