Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris had his draft day moment back in 2021, but he still came out of the 2023 NFL Draft as one of the big winners from around the league.
That’s because Harris finally got some run-blocking stalwarts from his front line. The Steelers offensive line has struggled to consistently open holes in front of him.
With the additions of left tackle Broderick Jones and gigantic tight end Darnell Washington in the draft, on the heels of guards Isaac Seumalo and Nate Herbig in free agency, Harris figures to have a much easier go of it in 2023.
That’s why ESPN analyst Bill Barnwell listed Harris as one of his nine big winners of the draft from around the NFL.
“(GM Omar) Khan moved up in the first round to take tackle Broderick Jones, who is expected to immediately step in on Kenny Pickett’s blindside and push overmatched 2022 starter Dan Moore into a rotational role,” Barnwell wrote. “With guard Isaac Seumalo joining from the Eagles in free agency, Harris will have a much better chance of delivering on lofty expectations in what could be a make-or-break 2023 campaign.”
Since making his debut as a rookie in 2021, Harris has the sixth-most rushing yards in the NFL with 2,234. Only Nick Chubb, Jonathan Taylor, Josh Jacobs, Derrick Henry and Dalvin Cook have rushed for more yards than Harris has since he entered the league.
But Harris pales in comparison to that ilk when judged on a per-carry basis. His 579 rushing attempts is the most in the league in that span, nine more than second-most Henry and 22 more than Jacobs.
Of the 50 backs with the most rushing yards over his two seasons, Harris is tied for the worst average yards per carry at 3.9. If he can stay as durable as he has been and improve his success on a per-carry basis with better blocking in front of it, then Harris will definitely be a big winner from last week’s draft.