The drumbeat for the Steelers selecting a first-round running back is only getting louder. Najee Harris, Travis Etienne, Javonte Williams -- all seem like reasonable possibilities. If it happens, that player immediately merits early consideration in fantasy drafts.

Pittsburgh could just as easily select an offensive lineman; that wouldn't be overly surprising. I've also seen suggestions they'll take a linebacker, since they so often select defensive players in the first round. As in, their last seven first-round picks, not counting the year they traded away their first-rounder -- for safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. No one should get too comfortable with the idea of them drafting a running back in the first round. They've done so only once in the last 30 years.

But if they do, that player has a really good chance of being an important running back in fantasy leagues right away. The Steelers have long been a team to favor a featured player at the position. Before the injury-driven mishmash of the past two seasons, Pittsburgh had a significant lead runner almost every year for a decade.

The last two seasons, with now-departed James Conner the No. 1, Pittsburgh didn't have a top-25 running back. In the previous nine years, however, the Steelers had a top-15 player seven times. Four of those were LeVeon Bell, but three were different players who stepped up in those seasons: Mendenhall (Pittsburgh's last first-round running back), Williams, Conner. Harris, Etienne or Williams might very well be the next.

2010Rashard Mendenhall3241273231671311th
2011Rashard Mendenhall22892818154922nd
2012Jonathan Dwyer15662318106241st
2013LeVeon Bell24486045399815th
2014LeVeon Bell290136183854111st
2015DeAngelo Williams20090740367115th
2016LeVeon Bell26112687561693rd
2017LeVeon Bell321129185655112nd
2018James Conner21597355497136th
2019James Conner11646434251734th
2020James Conner16972135215628th

To be honest, I won't believe Pittsburgh uses a first-round pick on a running back until I see it happen. They badly need an offensive lineman, and their consistency picking a defensive player is also noteworthy.

But if they do go running back, that player is not only likely to be the 1.01 in a lot of rookie drafts, he should be the first rookie drafted in most re-draft leagues, as well. And in the early rounds, too.

--Andy Richardson