It’s pretty hard to believe.
The Pittsburgh Steelers, built for years upon the pillars of power football, finished dead last in rushing last season. They had just 1,351 rushing yards all year and averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. Both marks were last in the league.
The bleak reality of their run game is pretty hard to believe. And that’s the exact reason most of the mock drafts this offseason have focused on upgrading the rushing attack.
Alabama running back Najee Harris has been a frequent match. So have some of the draft’s mid-tier offensive linemen, such as Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkins and Alabama’s Landon Dickerson. But whichever player gets picked at No. 25 will likely be an asset for that league-worst rushing attack.
“We’ve got to be a lot better in running, and certainly, we don’t want to see the Pittsburgh Steelers being last in the league in rushing ever again,” Steelers president Art Rooney II told CBS Sports. “I think it’s something that our coaches are focused on, and we’ll be focused on ways to improve in the draft. It’s something we’ve got to fix, and we’re working on it.”
The answers will arrive Thursday night, when the first round of the NFL Draft begins at 8 p.m. Rounds 2-3 start at 7 p.m. Friday. And rounds 4-7 begin at noon on Saturday.
There’s no draft betting in Pennsylvania, but that could change someday soon
Unfortunately, betting on the draft is not yet legal in Pennsylvania. As noted in a recent article at PlayPennsylvania, Act 42 of PA’s gambling expansion law limits wagers to live sporting events.
“The business of accepting wagers on sporting events or on the individual performance statistics of athletes in a sporting event or combination of sporting events by any system or method of wagering, including over the Internet through websites and mobile applications. The term includes, but is not limited to, exchange wagering, parlays, over-under, moneyline, pools and straight bets.”
The draft is not considered a sporting event and so, the law would need to be amended before wagers would be allowed.
But that day could arrive in the future. That same PlayPA article noted that draft betting continues to grow in popularity.
According to Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook and gaming operations at DraftKings Sportsbook, more states could soon add non sporting events such as the draft.
“Eventually, states will get comfortable with it,” he believes.
Draft betting odds are live in New Jersey and other select states
Pennsylvania’s next door neighbor New Jersey is one of the states that already allows draft betting. So Steelers fans can find odds for their first-round draft pick at the sportsbooks there. And if they’re willing to drive, they could even place a wager.
Recent odds via BetMGM for the Steelers’ first round pick focused as expected on positions that might bolster the rushing attack. Previously, the offensive lineman was favored for the Steelers’ first pick. But that has flipped to running back being heavily favored. The position odds according to BetMGM at the time of writing are as follows:
- Running back: -150
- Offensive line: +240
- Cornerback: +800
- Linebacker: +2000
- Defensive lineman: +2000
- Quarterback: +2500
- Wide receiver: +3000
For more on 2021 Draft betting and props, there’s a complete guide at TheLines.
DraftKings Sportsbook has free NFL Draft pools
And if you’re looking to add some excitement beyond a single pick, DraftKings Sportsbook has a free pool for each day of the draft.
The pools have prop-bet style selections based on certain picks, positions, and trades as well. There’s a total prize pool of $50,000 with a first-place payout of $1,000. And best of all, they are all free to enter.
So even though Pennsylvania doesn’t allow draft wagering, DraftKings is providing another avenue into the action.
And for Steelers fans especially, who will be waiting a while Thursday night before the team picks at No. 24, a pool seems like a perfect diversion.
Eventually, Pittsburgh will get its turn.
And that running game should get some attention.
The NFL Draft may provide plenty of entertainment for the fans, but it certainly helps each team too.
And there’s no doubt the Steelers need it.
Lead image credit: AP Photo/Gary McCullough