Steelers Select Kentucky RB Benny Snell in 4th Round

Decorated SEC runner went for over 3,800 yards with Wildcats

Josh Rowntree
April 27, 2019 - 1:21 pm
Kentucky Wildcats running back Benny Snell Jr. (26) runs in for the score against the Penn State Nittany Lions during the second half in the 2019 Citrus Bowl at Camping World Stadium.

Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers have taken Kentucky running back Benny Snell with the 20th pick in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. 

“I’m very excited,” Snell said via conference call. “I want to thank (Steelers coach Mike Tomlin) and the rest of the staff for having me. Ya’ll just got one of the hardest-working players coming out in 2019.”

Snell ran for 3,873 yards and 48 touchdowns in three seasons with the Wildcats. 

“(It was) very evident, when you sit down with this young man, on how much he has passion for the game, how much he loves it and how much likes being around it,” Steelers running backs coach Eddie Faulkner said. “He plays physical, plays hard and, quite honestly, represents the Steelers brand.”

After being named a freshman All-American in 2016, he was a back-to-back All-SEC First Team selection the last two years. In 2018, he was named a Third Team All-American. 

“My style is hard-nosed football,” Snell said. “I grind for every yard. I’m physical in the pass protection. I’m a physical player. I would say I mirror myself after a Marshawn Lynch or an Adrian Peterson, just fighting for extra yards and giving it my all.”

Snell’s selection could complicate some things in the Steelers’ backfield. James Conner is the starter, but there will now likely be a battle for the second spot with Snell and second-year tailback Jaylen Samuels, who played under Faulkner while he was at North Carolina State. 

“I think Benny provides a lot of depth,” said Faulkner, in his first year. “He’s just a good football player. When you have that type of passion and love of football, they’re going to be willing to contribute in whatever capacity they can. 

“Everybody’s got to come every day, and go to work. Jaylen’s part of that group, as well.”

Seemingly overflowing with confidence, Snell is not looking to be compared to Conner, also a workhorse, physical runner in college. 

“I feel like I’m Benny Snell,” he said. “I’m a different player than James, but he’s done an amazing job, a fantastic job filling in that spot and being that guy. I’m very impressed how he was in college, how he overcame things and I’m ready to work with him. I’m excited.”

The knock on Snell has been his straightaway speed, as he only ran a 4.66 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine. He admits, took, that he needs to improve his pass-catching abilities.

Snell’s great uncle, Matt, was a running back for the New York Jets, winning a Super Bowl in 1969. But he says they have only spoken, at length, a couple of times.

Now, he will look to make his own mark in the NFL. 

“I felt like, in the bottom of my heart, this is where I belong, because of my style of football,” Snell said. “I feel like I fit in perfect. My style of running is Steelers football. It’s Pittsburgh football. And that’s what I’m going to bring.”

Hear more from Steelers RB Benny Snell and RB coach Eddie Faulkner below.