It is no secret that the Pittsburgh Steelers struggled at running the ball last year. Some Steelers fans will even blame the running game on last year’s blunder in the AFC wild card game against the Cleveland Browns. However, after that loss to the Browns, the Steelers front office knew they needed to address the running back position. They did just that as the Steelers picked Alabama running back Najee Harris. Najee can be a game-changer; I think he will rush for over 1,000 yards in his rookie season.
First off, why I think that Najee Harris will rush for over 1,000 yards is his work ethic. I say his work ethic is one of the key reasons he will rush for over 1,000 yards. Steelers running back coach Eddie Faulkner has had to tell Najee that he has to go home. Because of how much extra time Najee spends on his game.
Another reason why I think Najee will rush for over 1,000 rushing yards is he is a fearless player. What I mean is he doesn’t fear running into defenders, hurdling defenders, and making hard cuts on defenders. On top of those reasons, Najee Harris has been creating noise in the NFL. He has gotten high praise from some NFL veterans, Including two potential future NFL Hall of Famers, Adrian Peterson, and Ben Roethlisberger.
Now, let’s move onto some of Najee’s Strengths that will help him rush for 1,000 yards. The biggest strength that will help Najee besides his work ethic is his excellent vision out of the backfield. His vision out of the backfield is so good because he studies the game so much, he can read the defenders on where they will be and where and when he has to cut to get by those defenders, which makes him so hard to stop. The next strength is his balance. So many times in college, Najee would get hit and keep going for 5 to 10 more yards, making him even harder to bring down. The last strength is Najee’s patience in the backfield. What I mean is he doesn’t force things. Instead, he waits for his blockers to open lanes for him.
Now, this wouldn’t be an article without some bias, huh? The first and last concern for Najee is if he is a fearless player looking for contact that increases his chances of an injury. Because taking so many hits takes tolls on running backs, and we’ve seen it many times in the NFL.
With players like George Rogers, who played with the now Washington Football team and the Saints. In Rogers’s rookie season, he rushed for an outstanding 1,674 yards and 13 touchdowns. That’s the 2nd most rushing yards in a rookie season, before being named rookie of the year in 1981. He retired at the age of 29. When asked about why he retired, he said it was due to multiple concussions he suffered throughout his career. Then there was Bo Jackson, arguably one of the most what-if careers in the NFL. In 1991 Bo had a terrible hip injury that ended his NFL career. After Bo retired, he played in the MLB for 3 more seasons until 1994, when he officially retired from all sports. Those two players are only a tiny fraction of NFL running backs careers coming to an end before they really started.
In Najee’s rookie season, my ceiling for him is that he will beat Franco Harris’s rookie rushing record set in 1972 at 1,055 rushing yards. And with Najee beating Franco’s record, he will be the new Harris with the record. So then, if Najee breaks Franco’s rookie record, he has a good chance of making the pro bowl too.
So Steelers fans get excited for the future because with Najee Harris in the backfield it’s nothing less then bright!