Every day it seems like the parade of potential draft choices continue to venture into the Pittsburgh Steelers facilities to meet with staff and front office personnel. Today, those trains continued with offensive tackle Bobbie Massie from Ole Miss. To date, the Steelers have brought in 12 of their allotted 30 prospects; three defensive linemen, two wide receivers, two offensive tackles, one cornerback, one offensive guard, one linebacker, one long snapper and one running back.
However, that one running back, Isaiah Pead from Cincinnati, has caught our eye for multiple reasons. First, a report broke a few weeks ago that RB Rashard Mendenhall might not return after tearing his ACL late in the season. Since then, both head coach Mike Tomlin and GM Kevin Colbert have backed off that report, both saying they expected Mendenhall back at some point in 2012. Sure, the Steelers have many relatively unknown prospects in the backfield, and no one knows whether they can carry the load this season or beyond. Yes, Mendenhall has been somewhat of a disappointment and is in his contract year, so the team must look to the future, but does that mean they should add another rookie to the unknown commodities? Only time will tell.
Next, this is the second confirmed time that the Steelers have met with Pead. Reportedly, the Steelers met with the 5-10, 197 pound back after his impressive showing the scouting combine, where he built upon his MVP performance at the Senior Bowl. Over his career, he has shown both north-south ability and home run capabilities. Yes, he is not the strongest back in the draft, and will not consistently run over defenders and yes, he has the propensity to be easily tripped up, but he has the look of an every-down running back featuring a solid combination of athleticism, skill and speed. More importantly for Steelers fans, he plays the game with a chip on his shoulder and is a high-effort player.
As we inch closer to the draft, it is interesting to sit back, look at positions, and project how they may fit in the Steelers new offensive schemes. As mentioned earlier, they could go different directions in the backfield, including adding a player of Pead’s caliber via the draft. But, with other holes to fill can they afford to take a back early? One thing is certain if they do go that direction; Mendenhall’s career in Pittsburgh is likely over.
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