The Pittsburgh Steelers have signed fourth-round draft pick Anthony McFarland Jr., with Brooke Pryor of ESPN NFL Nation sharing a photo of McFarland signing his contract.
From yesterday, Steelers signed a second 2020 draft pick: Anthony McFarland pic.twitter.com/WOERLSnvKE
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) July 22, 2020
McFarland is the second of Pittsburgh’s 2020 draft picks to sign his rookie deal, following in the footsteps of third-round pick Alex Highsmith, who came to an agreement with the team yesterday.
McFarland the New No. 26
McFarland will wear No. 26 and compete for playing time with starter James Conner, as well as backups Jaylen Samuels, Benny Snell Jr., Kerrith Whyte and Trey Edmunds, the latter the brother of Steelers safety Terrell Edmunds. McFarland was selected with the No. 124 overall pick in the fourth round of the 2020 NFL Draft out of the University of Maryland.
In April, Pittsburgh’s running backs coach Eddie Faulkner told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com that he was “really excited to add a guy like Anthony McFarland. A good fit to the room, a good complement to what is already on our roster. We have some familiarity with him [and] people speak very highly of him.”
Faulkner may have been referring to new Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada, who was the offensive coordinator at Maryland in 2018. During that year McFarland broke Maryland’s freshman rushing record with 1,034 yards, an average of 7.9 yards per carry.
No doubt Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin also gained some familiarity with McFarland, as Tomlin’s son Dino plays for Maryland.
‘100 Percent and Ready to Go’
Despite his exceptional speed, McFarland fell a bit in the 2020 draft, thanks to an ankle injury that muted his overall production last season. In 2019 he gained a comparatively paltry 614 yards on 114 carries to go along with eight touchdowns, while also catching 17 passes for 126 yards and a TD.
“I was injured the whole season,” McFarland told Varley, telling her that he injured his ankle week two versus Temple and didn’t really recover until the end of the season, though he missed just one game. “Now I am 100 percent and ready to go,” he insists.
McFarland finished his abbreviated career at Maryland with 1,648 yards over two seasons, good enough for 21st in school history. He was a consensus 4-star recruit coming out of high school and rated the third-best running back in the nation by 247 Sports and Rivals.
He is joined in Pittsburgh by college teammate Antoine Brooks Jr., who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2020 NFL draft, but has yet to sign his rookie contract.
Pittsburgh’s other unsigned picks are wide receiver Chase Claypool, offensive guard Kevin Dotson, and defensive tackle Carlos Davis.
Pittsburgh’s veterans are expected to be at training camp on July 28, with rookies, quarterbacks and injured players scheduled to report earlier. Training camp will be held at Heinz Field in 2020; the team has already reported that it expects to return to Saint Vincent College for camp in 2021.
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