With DeAngelo Williams’ future in Pittsburgh uncertain, the Steelers front office has turned its attention to projected mid-round running backs as potential backup options for Le'Veon Bell this season.
Fresh off winning a national championship, Clemson’s Wayne Gallman met with the Steelers early this week at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, and his initial impression of the organization was quite positive.
“I really like the running backs coach,” said Gallman. “He was really cool and down-to-earth. They have a good program. You see what they’ve been doing this past season and that’s always a good team to be able to play for.”
While James Saxon may have impressed Gallman, the burden of proof is on the young running back to convince Pittsburgh he’s the right fit. Back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Clemson should help his cause, as well as three 20-plus catch seasons and 36 career touchdowns.
“I believe that I’m one of the best all-around backs in this draft,” Gallman said. “I have a skill set that I believe is very different from every other back in this class. That’s something I really had to take advantage of this season, knowing that I had to give a little extra to get to that championship. I was very accountable to myself for that.”
Gallman is a physical runner who exudes toughness and fire every time he touches the ball. His aggressive playing style stands in sharp contrast to his reserved interview demeanor, but the soft-spoken back believes that shouldn’t be taken as a weakness.
“In every drill we do, people will see that I’m a hard worker,” he said. “They’ll realize that I’m faster than they might think I am, and that I’m a lot stronger than they think I am.”
Gallman won’t set any speed records during today’s workouts, but the 6-0, 215-pounder has better feet than he’s given credit for, and one can’t help but admire his relentless approach to each carry. His upright running style and vision in traffic are slight negatives, but Gallman is a capable receiver, ferocious pass protector,and will consistently put the team before himself. He may never become an ideal starter in the NFL, but Gallman’s well-rounded skill set makes him a viable option for the Steelers in the third or fourth round.
The junior isn’t the only big back the Steelers are interviewing this week, as Texas’ D'Onta Foreman met with the team last night.
Foreman is a light-footed, 6-0, 233-pounder who played at 242-245 pounds last season. He's not nearly as physical as his size and reputation would indicate, consistently going down on first contact and rarely running with the aggressiveness that could maximize his traits. He’s fluid, not truly explosive, and may use too much of the same speed to make many defenders miss in space.
That said, Foreman does have good vision at the first level to find a crease and get vertical. He does lack burst and vision through the hole, as he tends to go into “cloud-of-dust” mode and drop his eyes after the first cut.
Foreman was seldom used as a receiver and NFL personnel people have expressed concern about his pass protection, although tape reveals him to be better in this area than given credit.
Both backs fit the mold of a bigger runner Pittsburgh seems to covet at the time, and Toledo’s Kareem Hunt and Wisconsin’s Corey Clement are likely on their radar as well.
It may take a second or third-round pick to land Hunt, if he tests well today, while the others are more likely to be available early on Day Three.