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Steelers Get Snubbed on PFF’s Perfect AFC North Team

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Steelers RB Jaylen Warren

The Pittsburgh Steelers were left out of Pro Football Focus’ perfect AFC North team. Some of the rankings were not debatable, like Lamar Jackson being tabbed as the division’s top quarterback and the Cincinnati Bengals having the top receiving corps. The Cleveland Browns offensive line and Ravens secondary are also top-flight units.

However, there’s a valid argument that the Steelers have a better running back duo and linebacker unit than the Ravens. Derrick Henry is certainly amazing, but the combination of Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren was one of the best in the league in 2023.

Najee Harris became the first player in Steelers history to run for 1,000 or more yards in each of the first three seasons of his career. In 2023, Harris had the best season of his career in terms of yards per carry as he rushed 255 times for 1,035 yards — a 4.1 yards per carry average — and he scored eight touchdowns. Harris had rushed for 3.9 and 3.8 yards per carry in each of his first two seasons.

Harris is the only player in the NFL with at least 250 carries in each of the last 3 seasons. He’s 1 of just 3 players with multiple since his rookie year in 2021, per ESPN Stats & Info.

Warren ran for 5.3 yards per carry, one of the best figures in the league in 2023. He ran 149 times for 784 yards and four touchdowns. He was also more involved in the passing game, catching 61 passes for 370 yards compared to 29 receptions for 170 yards for Harris. On a per-touch basis, Warren is more explosive and efficient than Harris.

Alan Saunders of Steelers Now believes Warren is the best back in the division.

Roquan Smith and Trenton Simpson are the Ravens’ starting inside linebackers duo, while Kyle Van Noy and Odafe Oweh are the outside guys. That’s an impressive linebacker unit, but there’s an argument for the Steelers starting four of Patrick Queen, Elandon Roberts, T.J. Watt, and Alex Highsmith as the AFC North’s best. Payton Wilson and Nick Herbig are also solid depth pieces. Wilson might even see playing time right away, as he got starting reps in the dime package during OTAs and minicamp.

Overall, it’s the best depth that the Steelers have had at both inside and outside linebacker in years.