The Pittsburgh Steelers could target another veteran running back.
According to Heavy NFL insider Matt Lombardo, Dexter Williams is seen as a “best” potential fit for the Steelers. Williams most recently starred in the USFL as a member of the Philadelphia Stars. He rushed eight times for 29 yards — along with four receptions for 73 yards — in the league’s championship game.
Lombardo explains why Williams could receive another NFL opportunity with the Steelers — or another team — before the season starts.
“Because injuries are so frequent in the NFL, and teams seemingly are constantly aiming to bolster depth at the position, it wouldn’t be surprising for Williams to latch on and get another NFL opportunity this summer,” says Lombardo.
Why the Steelers Could Target Williams
Williams began his career as a sixth-round draft pick of the Green Bay Packers back in 2019. The 25-year-old running back would go on to appear in seven games over the next two seasons, carrying the ball seven times for 19 yards. He was released by the Packers prior to the start of the 2021 season.
Before latching on with the Stars in the USFL, Williams spent time on the practice squad of various teams such as the New York Giants, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.
The Steelers currently have one of the weaker overall lineups at running back. While they possess a true workhorse in Najee Harris, the backups are very underwhelming. Benny Snell Jr. currently projects as the top backup after averaging just 2.7 yards per carry last season (36 carries for 98 yards). Meanwhile, Anthony McFarland saw just 19 offensive snaps in two games last season.
Pittsburgh did address their lack of depth at running back by signing free agent Jeremy McNichols before the start of training camp. McNichols ran for 360 yards on 88 carries (4.1 yards per carry) over the past two seasons with the Tennessee Titans. He also added 295 receiving yards on 40 catches during that time frame.
While the Steelers technically have four veteran running backs, they could easily add a fifth in Williams. Especially when one considers how Snell and McFarland have failed to carve out roles in the offense over the past two seasons.
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Williams Compared to Ex-Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall
Williams had a solid career at the University of Notre Dame, rushing for 941 yards as a senior back in 2018. Upon entering the draft, Williams actually drew comparisons to former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall. Mendenhall spent five seasons with the Steelers (2008 through 2012) and served as the team’s starting back between 2009 and 2011. He ran for over 1,100 yards in back-to-back seasons in 2009 and 2010.
“Ascending every-down running back prospect who showed major flashes of becoming an NFL starter in his most active season to date,” says Zierlein. “Williams runs with a good combination of feel, force and juice, which allows for a variety of methods in creating yards for himself. His evaluation could require additional character work and his relative lack of experience could mean a slower integration into an NFL offense; however, he offers exciting upside with the talent to become a productive, NFL starter.”
If the Steelers can get any sort of resemblance in production from Williams when compared to Williams, Pittsburgh will take it. Considering the Steelers are looking to reduce Harris’ workload in his second season, Pittsburgh is looking for a viable complementary back.
Williams could very well potentially fill that void.