After looking at two positions on defense, which position is the bigger team need on the offensive side of the ball?
The Pittsburgh Steelers still have a number of team needs as they continue through the 2021 offseason. With free agency still an option, as well as the upcoming NFL draft, the Steelers will need to fill out all of these needs prior to training camp.
For an interesting exercise, I’m going to give two positions and ask which one is the greater need to add a player for the 2021 season. Previously, the question was asked about inside linebacker versus outside linebacker.
In this case, it’s time to look at the offensive side of the ball. To be more specific, is center or running back the bigger team need for 2021?
When looking at a team need, I like to break it down into two different types. First, there’s certain positions where the need is simply to have enough players as the Steelers don’t have enough options at this time. The Steelers may be set with their starters, but they may not have the needed depth at the position simply by not having enough players. The other option is whether Steelers could have enough players at a position, but they need to upgrade the quality of play on the depth chart. The Steelers may have more than enough bodies at the position, but the quality of those players even at the top is questionable.
When it comes to looking at center depth versus running back depth, I feel both of these positions fall primarily into the second category.
When looking at the team need at center, the Steelers problem is uncertainty at the starting position. Additionally, the Steelers really could use at least one more body for training camp as having only two players who primarily snap the ball is not ideal. This means the Steelers have room to add a center at some level, but it would be in their best interest to add someone at the top of the depth chart. With B.J. Finney returning to the Steelers after a year away split between the Seattle Seahawks and Cincinnati Bengals, he hasn’t seen an offensive snap since he last wore the black and gold. With the other option being J.C. Hassenhour who had to start four games in 2020 at both center and guard, neither player instills a lot of confidence in Steelers’ Nation moving forward. While the clock may have run out on the option of upgrading the position through free agency, it’s almost certain the Steelers will have to look for a center at some point in the 2021 NFL draft. The big question is with what selection.
When it comes to the running back position, the Steelers have a large number of players on their roster. Leaving full back and Derek Watt out of the discussion, the Steelers have four running backs on their roster who appeared in games for them in 2020 as well as the free-agent acquisition of Kalen Ballage. So even though the Steelers have more players than what they should keep on the roster, the biggest issue is the quality at the top of the depth chart. Last season neither Benny Snell Jr or Anthony McFarland Jr appeared to be a player ready to be the bell cow for the Steelers. With James Conner currently an unrestricted free agent, the starting job is wide open for whoever can grab it. The biggest question is who is best fitted to carry the load for the Steelers who would help to improve the rushing attacked which ranked last in the NFL in 2020. So even though the Steelers have enough players at the position for training camp, having a player who’s ready to be “the guy” is the biggest issue.
So which position is the greater team need? Will the Steelers look to add a center high in the 2021 NFL draft? Should the Steelers look to invest a top draft pick at running back rather than continue adding mid-round picks to the room year after year?
Personally, I think these two positions are the top two needs for the 2021 Steelers. The issue lies in whether or not either one is worthy of a first-round draft pick. When it comes to running back, investing in one of the first round when the shelf life is shorter than most positions makes it a tough choice. As for center, while it could be a player locked in with the Steelers for a decade, it seems taking one at pick number 24 could be a bit of a reach. As for which position is the greater team need, the best way for me to decide between the two is to ask if I could only add a player at one or the other, where would it be. For me, the choice would be center as I think a great offensive line can make an average running back that much better. But in all actuality, these two needs are neck-and-neck in this race.
So what do you think? Which position, center or running back, is the greater position of need at this time for the 2021 Pittsburgh Steelers offense? Make sure you vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments below.