Steelers keep James Conner in Pittsburgh

Posted on Apr 29 2017 - 11:57am by Rachael McKriger
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The Pittsburgh Steelers had a busy – and exciting – second day of the NFL Draft.

Held in Philadelphia, the Steelers went to work with their three draft picks on the second day. The Steelers held the No. 62, No. 94 and No. 104 overall draft picks, with the last two occurring in the third round.

With the No. 62 overall pick in the second round, the Steelers selected JuJu Smith-Schuster, a wide receiver from the University of Southern California.

At the NFL Combine, Smith-Schuster ran a 4.54 second 40-yard dash, recorded 15 bench press reps, a 32.5-inch vertical jump and a 120-inch broad jump.

In his career at USC, Smith-Schuster recorded 25 touchdowns and totaled 3,092 yards on 213 receptions. He also made appearances on special teams, returning 16 kickoffs for 185 yards. On the USC Trojans’ all-time catches list Smith-Schuster holds the fourth slot.

With the No. 94 overall pick, the Steelers focused on their defense, selecting cornerback Cameron Sutton from the University of Tennessee.

At the NFL Combine, Sutton recorded a 4.52 second 40-yard dash time, 11 bench press reps, 34-inch vertical jump and a 120-inch broad jump.

Sutton had an experienced career at Tennessee, starting all 45 games. He finished his career with 127 tackles (111 solo), seven interceptions, three forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. Just like Smith-Schuster, Sutton featured on special teams, returning 45 punt returns for 657 yards, scoring three touchdowns.


However, the biggest story of the night came in the form of the name James Conner.

The University of Pittsburgh running back – who notably battled cancer and returned to football this past year – was selected with the Steelers’ No. 104 overall pick.

At the NFL Combine, Conner recorded a 4.65 second 40-yard dash, 20 bench press reps, 29-inch vertical jump and a 113-inch broad jump.

In his career as a Pitt Panther, Conner finished with 3,733 rushing yards, 56 total touchdowns and 52 rushing touchdowns, which is second in all-time on those respective lists for Pitt. Conner appeared in 39 games.



During the NFL Draft, Charles Davis praised Conner’s return to football.

“It’s a special story for a young man who battled back, beat cancer, had to spend time out, and it took a little while to get his game back because at one point, remember he was the ACC Player of the Year,” Davis said. “Explosive, dynamic, physical, runs through contact. I think he catches the ball better than maybe he gets credit for.”

The Steelers still have four picks left in the conclusion of the NFL Draft, which will air today.


Follow me on Twitter, @RachaelMcKriger, for all Steelers coverage.