2011 NFL Draft: Could The Steelers Be Thinking Running Back In Round 1?

Joseph BrunoCorrespondent IApril 11, 2011

I know this possibility might sound completely crazy to most everyone, however come April 28th, it could actually happen.

Now running back is not a huge need for the Pittsburgh Steelers and most people just see them grabbing a smaller, quicker back to replace Mewelde Moore as the third down guy.

Rashard Mendenhall is currently entrenched as the Steelers starting running back and finished the season with 1273 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns.

When you think about that though, no one thought the Steelers would take Rashard Mendenhall either in the 2008 NFL draft.

Running back was not seen as a first-round need at that time since the Steelers still had Willie Parker as the starter.

The difference is that Willie Parker was coming off a season in which he suffered a broken fibula late in the year.

Hindsight shows us that the Steelers made the right decision because Parker never regained the speed that made him the league’s leading rusher before his injury, but who thought that was going to happen after he was coming off three straight seasons with at least 1200 yards?

With the exception of the costly fumble in this past Super Bowl against the Packers, Mendenhall has seemed to be the complete package at the running back position for the Steelers so far as the starter.

Could the Steelers really be looking at running back in the first round after choosing Mendenhall only three seasons ago?

It does not seem like a likely scenario, and I even see the Steelers going with either a cornerback or an offensive lineman, but who knows what Mike Tomlin and Kevin Colbert are thinking at this point?

I actually like the Steelers backup running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer though. Redman is more a power guy who provides a spark off the bench, and Dwyer has not shown much and is on the roster more for his potential than his production.

Three guys the Steelers could be looking at with the 31st pick are Mark Ingram, Ryan Williams and Mikel Leshoure.

Mark Ingram has been seen as a middle first-round pick, however he could slide to the end of the round, and Williams and Leshoure have seen their stocks rise and some have said either could even go before Ingram in the draft.

All three of these guys are the power type that the Steelers like, but they all are also solid contributors in the passing game as well.

If you need precedence for this type of pick, look no further than the Carolina Panthers when they chose Jonathan Stewart in the first round in 2008 after already taking DeAngelo Williams in the first round of the 2006 draft.

They became one of the best 1-2 punches in the NFL and even if Williams leaves in free agency this offseason, the team is still left with a number one guy in Stewart.

That could be where the Steelers are headed if none of the top offensive tackles or cornerbacks fall to the team at 31.

The NFL is mainly a two-back league nowadays, and the Steelers are always a better team when they can run the ball effectively.

Can you imagine the Steelers offense with two number one backs in the backfield with Ben Roethlisberger?

Will it actually happen?

No one knows at this point and everyone will probably say I’m crazy for even suggesting it, however, just remember that the Steelers are a team with only a few needs in a draft where those needs have great depth in this year’s draft.