Running back could become more of a draft priority for the Pittsburgh Steelers

PITTSBURGH -- General manager Kevin Colbert said earlier this week that the Pittsburgh Steelers have not ruled out any position, aside from specialists, as far as consideration for their first-round draft pick.

And yes that includes quarterback.

But Colbert added a significant caveat.

"As I sit here today could we eliminate any position? No," Colbert said on Tuesday. "Between now and draft day a lot’s going to happen. We may sign a corner in free agency. We may sign a certain position to an extension."

The Steelers will get a long-term contract done with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger at some point. They are also likely to sign a free agent to come in start, something they did with safety Mike Mitchell last year.

Whether they sign a cornerback or an outside linebacker -- the market could be relatively flush with pass-rushers -- remains to be seen.

One of the bigger questions the Steelers have to answer is how much of a priority they make adding a running back in the offseason.

Le'Veon Bell is expected to miss the first two games of the 2015 season because of a suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy. And Dri Archer and Josh Harris -- the only other running backs on the roster -- have 19 career carries between them.

The Steelers have to be wary about adding a back in free agency after getting burned by LeGarrette Blount last season. But can they go the first two games of the 2015 with Archer, Harris and a rookie running back they add in the draft?

Or might they make running back more of a priority in the draft?

Having Bell and Blount last year before the draft did not stop the Steelers from showing significant interest in LSU running back Jeremy Hill.

The Cincinnati Bengals picked Hill in the second round -- after making Giovani Bernard the first running back drafted the previous year -- and he emerged as one of the top rookies last season, rushing for 1,124 yards and averaging 5.1 yards per carry.

The general de-valuation of the position pushes running backs down in the draft as Bell and Hill, among others, have shown in recent years.

With the Steelers bracing for the worst when it comes to Bell’s NFL discipline for his arrest last August, a running back may fall to a position in the draft that they cannot afford to pass on.

And it could be sooner rather than later.