It’s no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers desperately need to address their running back situation.
After flirting back-and-forth with the idea of signing free agent Ahmad Bradshaw, there is a good chance that the Steelers could instead elect to use a second-day pick on a back that they hope could become their featured runner for the next several years.
If Steelers’ general manager Kevin Colbert has his way, that guy would be UCLA’s Jonathan Franklin.
Despite a disappointing pro day, Alabama’s Eddie Lacy remains the top back on most boards, but he has competition from Franklin for the top spot entering the 2013 NFL Draft.
A number of teams have told Draftinsider.net’s Tony Pauline that Franklin ranks higher than Lacy on their boards. In addition, CBSSports.com’s Jason La Canfora has reported that the New York Jets and Pittsburgh Steelers are among the teams “looking hard” at Franklin.
The UCLA product is projected as a second-round pick and would definitely be off the board by the time the Steelers would select in the third round, so if they were serious about adding Franklin, they would have to spend an early pick to do so.
He is drawing comparisons to Frank Gore as a runner and Doug Martin as a three-down back with NFL-ready pass-protection skills and the physicality to succeed between the tackles at the NFL level. That’s a package that the Steelers could definitely put to good use.
Franklin is coming off of a very productive final season at UCLA, in which he piled up 1,734 rushing yards and 15 total touchdowns while adding 33 catches for 323 yards.
He’s a more complete back than Lacy and could end up being the first back off of the board.
For the Steelers sake, hopefully he makes it to pick No. 48 as I wouldn’t be surprised if they elected to address their struggling ground game by using an early pick on Franklin.