When it was announced that the Pittsburgh Steelers selected Baron Batch with their seventh round pick it appeared as though they brought in a small, unassuming running back from Texas Tech who probably have trouble landing a roster spot.
After checking out his stats he began to grow on you. Though only 5’9” Batch averaged 4.6 yards per carry while gaining 816 yards. Not too bad. Five rushing touchdowns. Decent. Had 32 receptions. Nice.
Watching him gave an even better impression than just looking at his stats. Batch had soft hands, sharp cuts, a quick burst. Most importantly, he could block. Now we are talking.
Maybe this guy can develop into a quality third down back…after a year on the practice squad.
Alright, it’s official. I am rooting for him.
Not that you do not root for rookies to succeed, but in the age of over-analysis of draft picks, some have a skewed view.
There is nothing to hide for Batch, who provides fantastic insight on his Twitter account.
Even before camp Batch has had the Steelers fanbase sold. He was not a first round pick like Cameron Heyward. Not the potential left tackle of the future like Marcus Gilbert.
Not the much needed cornerback help like Curtis Brown.
Batch is a player who will have to contribute on special teams, block for his quarterback and do just about everything imaginable to make the final roster but the fanbase was won over.
His camp has gone well too. Batch has demonstrated the traits that caught the Steelers attention to make him their final selection in the draft.
Batch has not run every route perfectly. He has not caught every ball that has come his way and he has not made every block.
He has worked to improve every day. He has put the instruction that he has gotten from coaches and teammates to good use. He has made the most of his opportunities.
The biggest of those chances came on July 31st in a favorite drill of Mike Tomlin: backs-on-backers.
Lined up against one of the most feared pass rushers in the league, James Harrison, Batch did not step down. In a thunderous collision that echoed throughout the hills of Saint Vincent.
Batch stood up one of the best in the league. Harrison was unable to sack the quarterback.
In a moment that even a veteran would have been excited about. Even Bruce Arians gave him a hug after the play. But Batch kept in all in perspective.
“It’s just one play. I don’t make the team on one practice. I have to do it day in and day out,” said Batch to reporters following the practice.
To the thousands of fans in attendance he made the team with that one play. It just goes to show how much they want to see Batch succeed.
In reality, Batch has gotten to the point of being over-hyped by fans and media. Without playing a game he is considered a star of camp.
He is. Batch has shown a lot of skills and talent. Keep in mind, though, that the ‘stars of camp’ are the best of the backups and that is what should be expected of Batch. There is nothing wrong with that either.
If he can play well on special teams that would be a fantastic start. If Batch can win third down role that would be even more impressive.
Appreciate everything that Batch has displayed so far but remember to keep your enthusiasm curbed when it comes to what is expected from him.
As Tomlin says when asked about Batch, “He’s a rookie.”
Follow me on Twitter @ChrisG_FC