It was clear as day that the Steelers would want to address their running game this offseason, and their interest has reflected that. Yet another meeting is making it clear that the Steelers want to address the running back position at all costs as well. The Steelers have met with Memphis RB Kenneth Gainwell, Gainwell tells Steelers Now.
While Memphis Pro Day is not until Friday, Gainwell is expected to be among the top numbers there on all fronts. The Tigers running back opted out prior to the 2020 season due to COVID concerns. It makes his evaluation interesting, although the last time Gainwell took the field, he was named to the First-Team All-AAC.
A dual-threat option out of the backfield, Gainwell carries on the lineage of Memphis running backs before him. Just like Tony Pollard and Antonio Gibson, Gainwell has significant experience out of the backfield as a receiver. He even goes as far to improve that part of his game by watching film.
“I watch film of receivers too,” Gainwell said. “I study their routes, their releases. Anything I can get from them will help me.”
Gainwell views himself as a special back in this class. With great lateral quickness, solid speed, and overall pretty good explosiveness, Gainwell’s all-around athleticism is great. A former high school quarterback, Gainwell has taken that learning experience and used it to help his vision.
“I can play in-between the tackles, outside the tackles, in the slot,” Gainwell said. “My skillset is very different than most guys in this draft.”
Gainwell fits the versatile scheme that Matt Canada likes to run and can be the best receiver out of the backfield the Steelers have had since Le’Veon Bell’s departure. If Gainwell were to be selected by the Steelers, it would likely be a Day Two selection. Gainwell figures to be the plug-and-play starter should it occur.