This past week, the Pittsburgh Steelers visited with several NFL prospects. Among those players was University of Georgia linebacker Jarvis Jones, and many are saying Jones will be the player that the Steelers will pick with their 17th overall pick. However, there is some debate on who will be Pittsburgh’s selection in the second round.
Along with meeting Jones, the Steelers also met with UCLA running back Johnathan Franklin. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound back ended his four-year career at UCLA as the school’s all-time leading rusher with 4,403 yards. In addition, Franklin set school records in career all-purpose yards (4,920), and owns UCLA’s single-season records in rushing yards (1,734) and all-purpose yards (2,062).
Franklin, who was a finalist for the Doak Walker Award in 2012, could be a great asset to Pittsburgh’s thin backfield. With the combination of losing Rashard Mendenhall and Chris Rainey this offseason, and the disappointing years of current running backs Isaac Redman and Jonathan Dwyer, adding Franklin could possibly strengthen the Steelers’ backfield.
Drafting Franklin also makes sense for Pittsburgh from a financial point of view. The Steelers have already talked to free-agent running backs Ahmad Bradshaw and LaRod Stephens-Howling. However, looking at the organization’s economic status, bringing in Franklin will seem to be a more cap-friendly move versus signing a veteran free agent.
There are many other directions that Pittsburgh can go with their second-round pick, and addressing other positions won’t be frowned upon if the Steelers choose to do so. However, if it just so happens that Franklin is available when Pittsburgh is on the clock for the second time in this year’s draft, don’t be surprised to see them adding depth to their backfield.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google