There is little questioning Benny Snell’s résumé as a runner. The production the Pittsburgh Steelers’ rookie fourth-round pick had in college at Kentucky proves as much: sixth in rushing yards (1,449) among all of the FBS and tied for fourth in rushing touchdowns (16) among Power 5 conference running backs — all while playing against SEC defenses.
But the NFL world is full of quality ballcarriers. What really impresses coaches and front-office types is the less glamorous side of the running back position. Can he block? Similarly — though not entirely the same skillset — can he pass protect? Can he catch balls out of the backfield?
Snell is far less proven at those skills. So the 5-foot-10, 224-pound bruiser views summer workouts and late-summer training camp as his opportunity to showcase he’s adept at them.
“I can block, run, catch; whatever they say, I’ll be happy to do,” Snell said after a recent Steelers organized team activity session at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “I want to see the field as soon as possible.”
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) April 14, 2017
For all the touchdowns Snell racked up in college (48 in 39 games), none came off a reception. Then again, he only had 29 of those — as opposed to 737 touches via handoff.
Snell’s blocking abilities were more respected among the scouting community heading up to the draft. The Steelers were more reliant on the pass than any team in the NFL last season, so no doubt Snell will be asked to pass protect if he is to earn playing time.
Dear NFL Scouts. Benny Snell is downfield blocking for his Wide Receiver. Tell me he doesn't have the most grit in the game.
— Alec Henthorne (@alechenthorne) January 1, 2019
Snell said his adjustment to the pro level, like that of a lot of players, is centered around getting accustomed to the speed.
“The game is really fast,” he said. “It’s like, you just got to be able to go at your own pace but you have to be able to learn and get better everyday — because if you don’t get better every day, everyone will pass you by. So, it’s really about always learning from each experience.”