Benny Snell was exactly what the Pittsburgh Steelers were looking for in the 2019 NFL Draft. After a tumultuous season in the locker room, head coach Mike Tomlin was pleased to find a player who has already changed the culture in one locker room.
“We didn’t over-analyze it. We just really like Benny Snell. He’s a good football player who we thought was a central figure in a culture change at Kentucky. That guy had those guys extremely competitive. They kicked a lot of butt in the SEC this year,” said Tomlin.
“Everyone you talked to down there, formally and informally, talked about him being an energy-bringer, a catalyst if you will, the type of guy that’s capable of changing the culture. We were really attracted to that along with his run talents.”
After dealing with a ton of turmoil, Mike Tomlin is ecstatic to bring Benny Snell’s attitude into the Steelers’ locker room. pic.twitter.com/eAkBz8Anhc
— #1 Sacksonville Jaguars Fan (@RoushKSR) April 27, 2019
— ©ody ©ou©h (@29couch) April 27, 2019
Originally projected to fall into the fifth or sixth round, Tomlin and the Steelers made the move in the fourth round with the 122nd pick. The Steelers valued Snell’s ability to positively create change in a locker room a year after Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown held the team hostage with a variety of melodramatic demands.
At least one Pittsburgh fan has already altered that old Bell jersey to make way for the new 2-6.
The Steelers organization also liked what they saw from Benny when he had the ball in his hands. Steelers running back coach Eddie Faulkner was happy the organization pulled the trigger early enough to secure Snell.
“He plays physical. He plays hard. Quite honestly, he represents the Steelers’ brand as you watch him play,” Faulkner said.
“I’m really excited about Benny. It’s very evident when you watch film of this young man how much passion he has for the game, how much he loves it, how much he likes being around it. We were very interested in finding someone who has a passion and just loves football and that’s Benny Snell.”
After watching Snell work on tape, Faulkner was eager to see how that translated onto the field. It did not show up in his combine numbers, but the Pittsburgh coach saw everything he needed to see while working with Snell at UK’s pro day. He had questions about Benny’s ability to catch passes out of the backfield, questions that were quickly answered by Benny’s “natural” wide receiver skills.
“That was a pleasant surprise because going into his pro day I had those same questions. What you do see him do on tape is play the Wildcat. There’s a lot to being a running back, playing quarterback, catching the snap and still being able to get your eyes on your reads as a runner. He’s able to do that. It takes a lot of hand-eye coordination to do that.”
Benny fits the running back mold in the Steelers’ organization. One of the few teams that still likes to lean on a featured back, like Snell was at UK, he is arriving at the perfect time. James Conner currently holds the keys to the car, but there’s an opportunity for Snell to be the next man up. Jaylen Samuels and Trey Edmunds are a pair of second-year players that could be leapt if Snell does what we all think he will do — go to work.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) April 27, 2019