Steelers believe they got a three-down back in Najee Harris

College Football Playoff National Championship - Ohio State vs Alabama
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The Steelers needed a running back. In round one, they targeted one. And when he was available with the 24th overall pick, they pounced on Alabama running back Najee Harris.

“Najee is a well-rounded running back that played in a pro system,” Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert said in a recent appearance on PFT PM. “He made NFL runs routinely, and he could also play in the passing game, both as a receiver and as a blocker. He’s basically a three-down back coming from an NFL-like system, plugging into a similar type system. He made NFL runs at the collegiate level. He did it at a high level. He helped them win a national championship, so hopefully he can help us win some games.”

Given that Harris comes from Alabama, and in light of the fact that Alabama coach Nick Saban has said that few NFL teams call him to get input on players, Colbert was asked whether the Steelers spoke to Saban about Harris.

“No, we didn’t,” Colbert said. “We have several contacts there. Usually, we won’t get into contacting a head coach unless there’s really one specific question. Those guys have to deal with several players and hundreds of different types of calls. That’s one part of their job, and I’m sure they would help if need be. But we’re very sensitive to the head coach’s availability and time. Occasionally we will reach out, but most often we do not.”

Colbert also addressed the broader issue of improving the running back. A first-round tailback is only part of the equation.

“Well, we think anytime you talk about the running game, you talk about what starts up front,” Colbert said. “You talk about your receivers being able to get open, your quarterback being able to complete passes. Having a well-rounded passing game that opens up for the running back in addition with having a capable runner. We had capable runners last year. Our offensive line went through a transition. Hopefully, we’re going to come out the other side of it. It’s comprehensive. When we had the opportunity to take a guy like Najee, we think that’ll help significantly with our run game.”

The Steelers definitely need that. Last year, they finished 32nd in rushing. They need more balance if they’re going to finish 2021 better than they finished 2020.

18 responses to “Steelers believe they got a three-down back in Najee Harris

  1. It seems like, more and more, the ‘very best’ running backs are lasting 3 years or so at top performance, before starting to fall off. I guess it makes sense that if you think you’ll get 3 years out of a guy before the performance dips, you can cut them loose after 4 years at a reasonable cost, or keep them for a 5th year at a reasonable cost before having to pay them if they’re that 1 in 500 special Adrian Peterson/Frank Gore type of guy that can keep doing it for many years. It just seems easier to get a guy in the 3rd or 4th, get 85% of the production for 30% of the cost and replace them every couple of years, though.

  2. I called this pick back in January. He is exactly what the Steelers need. I think it’s a perfect match.

  3. Given that Ben’s arm is shot, the Steelers are going to have to run this kid into the ground

  4. Given that Ben’s arm is shot, the Steelers are going to have to run this kid into the ground

    I suggest you watch some football so you can comment truthfully. Bens are is fine he just a line to protect him and a coordinator to be creative in their play calling.

    Also Bell plays for the Chiefs so you need to catch up with the news Skippy.

  5. It’s not a mistake to pick up an Ezekial Elliot or Christian McCaffrey or even a Todd Gurley in the first round, especially late in the first round. It is a mistake to give them a second contract. It is also a mistake to take a Leonard Fournette or a Sony Michel in the first round. No way of knowing whether this pick was a mistake or not until he plays. But you can’t speak categorically. Some backs will give you first round value for the duration of their rookie contract.

  6. “Najee is a well-rounded running back that played in a pro system,” Steelers G.M. Kevin Colbert said.

    So was Trent Richardson: he played in the same offense an in the same conference and had much better production.

    Derrick Henry followed Trent at Bama and has done well. It’s just difficult to know on these RBs. Not a knock on Harris: I wish him well (except against Cleveland). What I’m saying is “We’ll see.”

  7. You can get up to 6 years from a 1st-round RB on a rookie contract if you want to. The 4yrs, plus 5th-yr option, and franchise tag if necessary for the 6th. Then, you can decide if you want to offer a 2nd contract?
    Remember that the Steelers offered Le’Veon Bell a 2nd contract, before he decided to sabotage his own career.

  8. I would have taken Etienne. He has just as much power with ankle breaking jukability to go with it

  9. With that O line three downs is all they will be getting each possession. Good thing they drafted a punter

  10. nhpats2011 says:
    May 6, 2021 at 12:39 pm
    Given that Ben’s arm is shot, the Steelers are going to have to run this kid into the ground.

    Ben passed short because of the OC philosophy. Check the second-half of the Indy game. Ben went no huddle and passed deep five times, and connected for three touchdowns to spark a comeback and the only win in their slide at the end of the year. With the OC replaced, Ben has plenty of arm to get it to our ‘dropsy’ WRs. Don’t blame him for a dink and dunk philosophy that is now gone.

  11. Given that Ben’s arm is shot, the Steelers are going to have to run this kid into the ground.
    If 33 td and 10 picks is arm being shots and a 12-4 record. Give me 2 more seasons of that.

  12. Najee Harris was a great pick by the Steelers. This guy is going to be a beast in the NFL

  13. I assume they mean three downs/game? With Little Ben’s ego still in play, Steelers will abandon the running game after the first two minutes. They always do.

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