The Steelers haven’t had a true “burner” in their backfield since Willie Parker wore black and gold. That is until now.
With their 5th round draft pick, the Steelers selected Chris Rainey, a running back out of Florida. Rainey is a burner. But unlike Mike Wallace, Chris Rainey has stop and go speed. He has amazing acceleration, and he can make ankle breaking cuts. To demonstrate just how quickly he can accelerate, he recorded the fastest time in the 10 yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine. He also recorded the fastest time in the 20-yard short shuttle, demonstrating his ability to change directions quickly and still maintain high speed.
Rainey was used in a variety of ways at Florida. He was used as a traditional running back. He also has soft hands, and catches the ball well out of the backfield. He even lined up at wide receiver at times. And he was used as a kick returner.
Rainey will definitely challenge Baron Batch for 3rd down duties. His hands are just as good as Batch’s, but he’s much faster.
People have come to think of the Steelers as a power running team. But with Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown spreading the defense, and Chris Rainey adding speed in the backfield, the Steelers have the potential to have one of the fastest offenses in the NFL.
But of course, Rainey’s not perfect. He’s small (5’8″, 180 lbs.), and won’t be able to take a pounding. So he’s a part-time player at best. He’ll be almost useless running between the tackles. But of course, the Steelers have Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman, Jonathan Dwyer, and John Clay to do that.
He’s also not much of a blocker. At his size, he won’t provide much of an obstacle to a linebacker whose trying to get to the quarterback. In fact, the Steelers may have to excuse him from their famous “Backs on backers” drills during training camp. James Harrison may squash Rainey like a bug.
He also has a history of injuries dating all the way back to high school. He’s had repeated problems with his shoulder, and has had surgery on it. But his legs are fine, and that’s his greatest weapon.
Perhaps the biggest concern about Rainey is his character. He was charged with a felony for stalking his girlfriend in in 2010, and he was temporarily suspended from the team. Charges were later dropped after he completed a pre-trial intervention program.
The Steelers obviously thought that Rainey’s problems were behind him, and decided to draft him. That’s good enough for me.
Welcome to Pittsburgh kid. I think your speed is going to be exciting to watch.