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Taking a look back at Steelers fans thoughts on Najee Harris before the 2021 NFL Draft

As we prepare for the 2022 NFL Draft, it is important to remember we, as fans, don’t really know as much as we think.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Minnesota Vikings Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

After the conclusion of the Super Bowl, I will begin an exercise I started prior to the 2021 NFL Draft. That exercise was taking a look at individual prospects, mainly at the skill positions, and breaking them down. No, not giving my own personal opinion of the player, but providing information so fans like me can draw their own conclusions.

I had to try and find the framework for how I did things last offseason, and when doing a simple Google search I found my profile of Najee Harris before the draft. Immediately I noticed there were 83 comments on the article, so I decided to take a look and see what the fan base was thinking of Harris before he was the Steelers’ pick at No. 24.

The range of comments was vast, but I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of level-headed comments about the running backs entering the draft, not just Harris. This isn’t me keeping “receipts” on what fans said, but merely taking a look back at what people were saying about the thoughts of Harris being the team’s top pick.

Let’s take a look at some of the good takes:

First, a take many had about the priority of running back or offensive line in the first round. Some might say this is a bad take, but it merely just points to where they hold their priority on the offense.

This is a very shallow draft at 3 down rb’s. Harris is a good player however in a typical draft he is a mid 2nd rounder. We have needs at LT, C, ILB, DT, WR. The more long term starters we draft the better. If passing on a rb this year, rebuilding the line and keeping conner seems like a better idea to me than drafting Harris and having lesser talent on the Line because of it.

Another solid take about the running back position, longevity and the control the organization will have on the running back if they take one in the first round.

Running Back is a “rookie contract” position nowadays.

We need a RB, we pick late enough in the first round to not reach, and we will get the extra year out of his contract.

Perfect time to pick a RB in the 1st.

I like Najee over Etienne (9,847 touches in college), but I may like Williams best of all.

Now, let’s take a look at the “okay” takes:

There are always those who love the trade back scenario. It is a good scenario, on paper, but rarely does it come to fruition. You have to have someone who wants to trade up, as well as no one you covet enough to make the pick in Round 1.

If he is there at 24 i would see if anyone would give us extra picks to trade back.........think it would be a waste of a 1st round pick, especially for a team that has so many needs...RB’s in the 1st round don’t usually put teams over the top and certainly won’t for this team...went 11-0(till the wheels fell off) without one last year and KC’s 1st round running back didn’t deliver a SB to them(neither did Jacobs, Elliot, Barkley, Penny, McCaffrey, Gurley, Gordon, etc), back or wait and get a RB in 2 or 3 round...If this team was a RB away from being a SB contender i might consider it but we are not

What I was surprised to see were the amount of reasonable takes. Not suggesting Harris is awful, but definitely with a different spin on the process. Another good take on the importance of a first round pick, for lots of reasons.

This guy would be a great Steeler and I certainly hope they would take him if he’s there at #24. We all know RB’s tend to wear down during their second contract which is all the more reason I think taking him in the 1st round is the way to go. You get the 5th year option and then because of the devaluation of the RB position you can then franchise tag him for a 6th season at a fairly reasonable cost before moving on.

A take I didn’t see a lot of was relating to Harris’ age. Entering the draft at 23 is rather uncommon at the skill positions, but clearly it didn’t deter the Steelers from making him their guy.

He is definitely the best overall but it sucks he is 23 years old. I would still take him at #24 in a heartbeat. Remember, he doesn’t have to be he for 10 years to be a big success for the Steelers. In fact as others have said sometimes its best to keep him for a 6th year and pay the extra money then draft another RB in that years draft to replace him.

Im perfectly fine with this process because it seems teams don’t want to pay the top RBs in the league when they reach the end of their rookie contract. The other thing is Javonte Williams which a ton of Steeler fans love, will not be there at #55!

So either you grab Harris or you need to trade back to get an extra 3rd round pick and then grab Willams in the top of the 2nd.

Let be perfectly clear after Harris, Ettinee and Willams, there is NO RB in the draft, that we don’t already have someone just like them on our roster! Be smart and pick one in the 1st rd and be done with it for the next 5-6 years.

There were many takes which could be categorized as interesting, and this take certainly tops them all in that regard. While many, including a lot on our staff, think you have to pick the offensive line, then you take the running back. This reader had a different suggestion, and just because it is different doesn’t mean it’s wrong.

I think it could be important to get your RB of the future before you get your OL of the future in this case because of the different skill sets. The depth of OL in this draft allows you to draft a RB first. And then from there you can choose them based on your new rbs skillset. If you draft Harris youre gonna need more bruiser lineman whereas if you have Etienne youre gonna need quick lineman that are good at pulling. Not saying its the right thought process but I think its one way of thinking.

Again, this article wasn’t to call out any readers/commenters. Obviously, if you read the article there weren’t any bad takes/opinions, they were just all different. This isn’t a group think website, but one where different thoughts are welcome and enjoyed by others. It was good to see this type of discussion still exists, and I am looking forward to starting these up this week following the Super Bowl...hopefully you are too!

So, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the start of the new league year, and the 2022 NFL Draft.