The SCB Draft Journals roll on… This time around it’s Pitt fan-favorite James Conner.
James Conner, RB Pitt
6’2″ 235 pounds
2016 Stats: 216 carries 1,092 yards and 16 TDs… 21 receptions for 302 yards and 4 TDs
What’s to Like: He’s a thumper… Really thick body and rarely goes down on first contact… Excellent ‘between the tackles’ runner… Good at making one cut and accelerating through the hole… Consistently willing to lower his shoulder and fight for extra yards… Almost always falls forward for positive yardage… Is a capable receiver out of the backfield… Willing blocker in blitz pick-up… Terrific stiff-arm that seems to pulverize players and leave them stunned… Was a team captain and highly respected by his teammates.
What’s Concerning: I don’t see him doing much outside of the tackles… Just doesn’t possess the type of speed that will create space on the outside… If the blocks aren’t there he won’t get to perimeter… While he’s willing in blitz pick-up, there were several times where I believe he missed assignments… Not what I’d call a ‘change of direction’ type of back… Able to make a cut but won’t make many guys miss… If offensive line has issues, he will struggle to find yards.
The Verdict: Conner’s story makes you root for him there’s no doubt about that. He survived Hodgkin’s lymphoma which cost him an entire season of football for the Panthers. It’s hard not to like his running style; he’s aggressive and likes contact. I’m just no sure how he would fit with the Steelers. He’s very different from Le’Veon Bell which is what you want in a back-up but he doesn’t possess any game-breaking skills which would be nice. He could be an excellent short-yardage back but again, if the blocking isn’t there he isn’t going to make much of it. He would be an excellent locker room guy and would likely be a good special teams’ player. Personally, I would like the Steelers to look for more speed in a back-up for Bell.
Photo courtesy: Sporting News
Video courtesy: draftbreakdown.com/youtube.com