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Steelers All 90: Jaylen Warren Not Done Proving Himself

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Steelers running back Jaylen Warren

Jaylen Warren entered the 2022 season like many undrafted free agents do, with the goal of just making the team’s final roster. After rising to and exceeding expectations as a running back and pass blocker, Warren has firmly cemented himself as the Pittsburgh Steelers primary backup running back but according to himself, he is not satisfied with where things stand now.

“I’m still trying to prove myself,” said Warren about the 2023 season. “Personally, I feel like I haven’t done anything yet. I don’t like to let the talk get to me, I still have goals and my main goal is to help the team win a Super Bowl.”

Well “nothing” came out to be nearly 5 yards per carry on over 70 carries as a rookie. The Steelers love to run the ball and use their backs as blockers in the passing game so Warren recoginzed that his role will be heftier this season and went to work on the “little things.”

“Tie into the little things, perfect my craft,” said Warren about what he worked on in the offseason. “People tell me how great of a year I had last year, I look at it as ‘I was just doing my job.'”

One moment that Warren did take a step back and realized that he is an NFL player and can be for a long time was not on a specific play but the entirety of the game when the Steelers traveled to Baltimore late in 2022.

“The rivalry is so much more intense so y’all know each other more and it some more ‘umph’ in the game,” said Warren. “You feel yourself in that battle and you are like ‘okay, I can withstand this’ and when you’re having fun doing it, it is a good feeling.”

This offseason, Warren learned a lot about himself and his body due to the extra free time that NFL players receive during the down time. He also confined in his teammate and running-mate Najee Harris about how to tackle an entire NFL season and offseason.

“[Najee] actually gave me some tips on how to take care of my body pre and post practice and game so he is one of those players that I can lean on and ask questions.” said Warren.

With a year of crushing expectations and an offseason to rest the body, Warren is in line to provide even more sparks for the Steelers offense. The 24-year-old has experienced more success than most undrafted free agents do in their career and is thankful for making the decision to come to Pittsburgh for a tryout a year ago.

“I am very grateful to have this opportunity to this day.”

30 • Jaylen Warren, Running Back, Oklahoma State
5-foot-8, 215 pounds, 24 years old, 2nd Season

Acquired: The Steelers signed Warren to an undrafted free agent contract following the 2022 NFL Draft.

Last YearLike he did at all three colleges that he played at, Warren bursted on to the scene in 2022 for the Steelers and carved out an important role as the team’s primary backup to Najee Harris. Warren excelled so much in his role that he is the Steelers backup running back for the 2023 season without having to face any competition in camp.

Warren, like most rookies, started slow as he appeared in the Steelers’ Week 1 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals and totaled three carries for 7 yards. People began to notice the smaller running back in Week 3 when he received four carries for 30 yards which is 7.5 yards per attempt.

Warren really stepped up to the plate in the team’s Week 8 and Week 10 games when he carried the ball 17 times for 87 yards. In those two games, Warren ran the ball at 5.1 yards per attempt which finished above his season average of 4.9.

In Week 15, Warren carried the ball 11 times for 38 yards while scoring his first professional touchdown against the Carolina Panthers. Two weeks later, Warren received his career-high in carries with 12 as he tallied a carrer-high in rushing yards with 76.

Warren finished his impressive rookie season with 77 carries for 379 yards, one touchdown and one fumble.

Jaylen Warren runs the ball as the Steelers face the Ravens on Jan. 1, 2022 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

Jaylen Warren runs the ball as the Steelers face the Ravens on Jan. 1, 2022 in Baltimore. (Mitchell Northam / Steelers Now)

Year GP Carries Yards AVG TDs
2022 16 77 379 4.9 1

CollegeWarren committed to Snow University, a junior college, out of high school after being under-recruited and immediately played above expectations. As a freshman, Warren played in nine games and recorded 116 carries for 878 yards and eight rushing touchdowns.

In 2018, Warren stayed at Snow and his production increased in every major category for a running back. Warren totaled 167 carries for 1,435 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns as a sophomore. For his exceptional season, Warren became the 2018 NJCAA Offensive Player of the Year and was named a juco All-American.

Prior to the 2019 season, Warren transferred to the Division 1 school, Utah State. As a junior, Warren played in 12 games for the Aggies and finished the season with 112 carries for 569 yards and five touchdowns. His 569 rushing yards ranked second on the team.

Warren entered his senior season with lofty expectations but COVID ruined that plan as he played only three games and started two of them for the Aggies. With COVID, Warren received an extra year of college eligibility and he transferred to Oklahoma State for his final year.

Warren meshed well with the Oklahoma State offense and gameplan which catapulted him into the starting role for the Cowboys. Warren played in 14 games and racked up 1,216 yards on 256 carries and 11 touchdowns. As a result of his excellent season, Warren was named the Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and was an honorable mention for the conferences’ Offensive Player of the Year award.

Year School GP Carries Yards TDs
2017 Snow (Juco) 9 116 878 8
2018 Snow (Juco) 9 167 1,435 15
2019 Utah State 12 112 569 5
2020 Utah State 3 39 252 3
2021 Oklahoma State 14 256 1,216 11

Salary cap and future: Warren signed as an undrafted free agent following the 2022 NFL Draft. The contract is worth three-years, $2.57 million in total. Warren is entering the second year of that deal and will cost $874,000 against the Steelers’ cap space. $870,000 of that is salary money while Warren will earn $4,000 in bonus money in 2023. Warren is signed through the end of the 2024 season.

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