The Pittsburgh Steelers got a steal in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft when they snagged Alabama running back Najee Harris with the 24th overall pick in the first round of the draft. Harris finished fifth in Heisman Trophy voting in 2020 and he will give the Steelers an excellent long-term option to bully linebackers from their backfield.
Coming into the NFL Draft this year, the Steelers knew that they needed to bring in a legitimate workhorse starting running back. James Conner left town in free agency to sign with the Arizona Cardinals. That had left them with Benny Snell as their No. 1 back, which made selecting Harris a no-brainer decision.
Harris is the bruising running back that every team loves, and he has a play style very similar to that of Derrick Henry from the Titans. He also has the ability to run the ball very patiently with some burst and explosion once the hole has been formed.
During his four-year career with the Crimson Tide, two of those seasons with him being the featured back, Harris put up monster numbers. He carried the football 638 times for 3,843 yards and 46 touchdowns. In addition to his rushing numbers, he caught 80 passes for 781 yards and another 11 touchdowns.
Harris will give the Steelers a high impact running back out of their backfield for years to come, which is something they haven’t had in quite some time. His ability to remain on the field will prove to be extremely beneficial for the Steelers and with their new backfield bruiser, they could make a run at a deep playoff pursuit.
The biggest downfall for the Steelers in 2020 was their lack of a reliable running back. Now that the Steelers have addressed that need, they may be able to not only bounce back from their unfortunate Wild Card loss last season, but also make a run at the Super Bowl. Najee Harris will start right away in Pittsburgh and could play well enough to take home some Offensive Rookie of the Year hardware.
We are predicting that Harris will end up carrying the football around 230-240 times for right around 1,000 yards and eight touchdowns. It would also be reasonable to expect him to catch 40-45 passes for 350 yards and another two or three touchdowns.
Expect to see the Steelers give the ball to Harris early and often this season. He will be their clear-cut starter and they are going to love what they see from him in year one.