On Pro Football Network’s “Draft Insiders” show with Trey Wingo, NFL Draft insider Tony Pauline said Alabama running back Najee Harris is the top player that the Steelers are targeting with the 24th pick in the draft.
It seems that the number one player they’re after is Najee Harris.... He’s a perfect fit, he fits the Steelers’ identity, he’s a three-down back. They have a gaping need at the running back position. I’ve been told that’s the guy they’re keying on.
This follows a report from Pauline that said he was hearing the pick would either be Najee Harris, Teven Jenkins or Landon Dickerson. Pauline had also mentioned that if the Steelers do not take Jenkins in Round 1, Spencer Brown from Northern Iowa is a guy that the Steelers like in Round 2.
Pauline addressed both Jenkins and Dickerson as well, but he points out that teams may be hesitant to take Dickerson, especially in Round 1.
As far as the offensive linemen, they like Teven Jenkins, the tackle from Oklahoma State, and you mentioned Landon Dickerson. The issue with Landon Dickerson is.... are they comfortable with the medicals? A lot of people are mocking Landon Dickerson as a first-round pick. I’ve heard otherwise. When you scout Landon Dickerson, it’s kind of a two-part story. The on-the-field story, Landon Dickerson has been a terrific lineman for Alabama the past two years. He’s shown great development in his game.... and as a player he basically grades out as a second round choice, but his medicals basically make him a free agent. As I said in the article earlier this week, he got a three minus [C-] during his combine medicals, or I should say, at least some teams gave him a three minus. A three minus is equal to a C-. Combine medical grades go from five, which means you’re clean, to one, which means you’re a reject, you’ve got no chance of even getting into camp. Landon Dickerson was very close to failing his combine medicals.
Pauline also says that the concern with Dickerson is not just about getting through a season fully healthy, but also when a past injury is going to potentially worsen in the future.
Is it the early onset of arthritis? Immobility? Is he going to make it to the second contract? So, it’s going to be interesting to see if teams will be willing to overlook the medicals of Landon Dickerson and just say, ‘hey, listen, we’re going to take the player, and hope his body stays together.’
If you would like to watch the entire show, you can click here.
Now, we will not know for sure what the Steelers plan to do until the night of the draft, and rumors are not everyone’s cup of tea, but it is worth noting that Pauline usually shares legitimate information. This may never come to fruition, but he is not someone who spews out information simply to create headlines.
If you are on the Najee Harris hype train, you are keeping a close eye on Miami at pick No. 18, who Pauline said is also interested in the Alabama running back. The Jets could also take a running back, but many feel as if Travis Etienne would be a better fit for what Mike LeFleur wants to run.
If you are a Teven Jenkins fan, you will want to keep a close eye on the teams selecting between 19 and 22. Washington, Chicago, Indianapolis, and Tennessee all have a need at tackle, and Tennessee has shown as much interest in him as any team that could realistically land him. It will be interesting to see if the Titans try to move ahead of their division rival in an effort to secure the Oklahoma State lineman.
As it pertains to Dickerson, I would be surprised if he was taken in the first round. Creed Humphrey’s pro day numbers combined with Dickerson’s injury concerns make me think that Humphrey, and potentially even Quinn Meinerz, could be taken ahead of him. The tape is fantastic, but linemen with as lengthy an injury history as his are too risky for Round 1. He may be worth the risk at 55, but taking him at 24 would seem to be a move of panic on the part of the Steelers. Center is definitely a need, but there are solid options in the middle rounds as well. At this point, I would be very surprised if the Steelers took Dickerson at 24.
But what do you think? Do you agree with Pauline in that Najee Harris is the most likely pick, if available? Who do you think is the most likely pick if he is already taken? Be sure to share your thoughts in the comment section below, and stay tuned to BTSC for an overload of draft coverage as we prepare for next week’s big event.