People laughed at me when I made this prediction before the NFL season ever ended. But it seems like more and more people are beginning to realize the importance of Alabama senior running back Najee Harris. Here is the breakdown of Harris according to thedraftnetwork.com
Harris is a versatile threat that was a rare case of a backfield rusher who played all four seasons in Tuscaloosa. A tall and upright runner, Harris is a blend of power, determination, and versatility as both a between-the-tackles runner and perimeter rushing threat. A comfortable pass-catcher out of the backfield, he’s made strides in his pass-catching ability every season. A running back that can have passing concepts designed around his abilities, he can routinely put second-level defenders in a bind with schemed patterns to attack coverage. A runner that always seems to fall forward when taking on contact, he’s a highly determined and physical rusher who forces defenders to tackle him to the ground through the echo of the whistle. Harris isn’t a running back who contains multiple gears, as he’s a flat-footed runner that paces his way through defenses. Another key attribute on his resume is his ability to finish drives with touchdowns. Few match Harris’ will and “want to” with getting into the endzone, as he led the country in scores in that area last season.
Ideal Role: Featured top option running back.
Scheme Fit: Multiple scheme fit in both man/gap/power and zone-based blocking scheme.
Now sure the Pittsburgh Steelers do need to address their offensive line, at least they do at some point in time in the 2021 NFL Draft. But there are plenty of quality linemen entering the league this year, yet not many running backs stack up to Harris. The highlights below beginning as a “true” freshman will account for that.
Of course most people see Najee not available on the board at the 24th pick, and since the Steelers are not necessarily known to do the trade hiccup. Those people seem to forget exactly what Pittsburgh did to aquire Michigan linebacker, Devin Bush in the 2019 draft.
True..the Steelers don’t necessarily make moves, or trade away players or picks for one player. But once in a while they come across a gem they would be stupid to pass up. One of those gems was Bush, who before his season ending injury was having an amazing year.
Keep in mind the offensive line was not the problem with running back, James Conner’s production, it was Conner’s inability to stay healthy and move the sticks when needed. But Harris has the power, vision, awareness on the field and breakaway speed much needed to take the pressure off of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Summary: Najee Harris is a mixture of the power of Jerome Bettis, and the quickness..(though not as quick)..as Willie Parker. Passing up on him for an offensive lineman who can block, but unable to put points on the board would be a ridiculous decision. And points are how games are won, Harris will definitely fill that much needed void.