Jonathan Dwyer’s release from the Pittsburgh Steelers was one of the surprising moves in the NFL in teams’ attempts to get down to a 53-man roster. Dwyer was expected to be a utility back in the Steelers ground game, which looks stouter now than it has in some time.
Ryan Wilson of CBS Sports was able to give us some insight as to why the Steelers may have made the move:
“Pittsburgh has moved to an outside zone-blocking scheme this season, and perhaps there was no place for Dwyer in this offense, at least when compared to the rest of the depth chart at running back.”
Dwyer could be a featured back in an offense, but that’s not where he’ll likely play if and when he’s signed by a new team. His greatest feature is his balance. When hit, Dwyer can absorb the blow and keep moving in the right direction. He knows how to position his body prior to a hit in a way that allows him to actually be hit back to balance. It’s a feature that allows him to gain extra yards in close quarters, and he almost always falls forward.
On the other hand, Dwyer has had some fumble issues in the past, and he’s no speed back. He can move the ball downfield quickly, but unless the secondary is taken out or just misses tackles, he will get caught from behind.
Dwyer won’t likely be brought in as a feature back unless a team like the St. Louis Rams become desperate to add an every down back. Still, he can provide teams a great change-of-pace runner that will move the chains in short-yardage scenarios. At 24-years old, Dwyer still has a lot of tread left on the tires, and there’s no reason to expect he’ll be on the market long.