5 candidates to be the Steelers top running back in 2021

Kenneth Gainwell #19 of the Memphis Tigers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Kenneth Gainwell #19 of the Memphis Tigers. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /
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Najee Harris #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

Najee Harris

The Steelers are expected to have plenty of hands-on-deck at Alabama’s Pro Day, and we would have to assume that running back Najee Harris will be one of their top NFL Draft targets this year. While Harris doesn’t quite check all of the boxes as a senior who is already 23 years old, he has every other trait Pittsburgh typically looks for at the position.

Harris is a bruising runner who can punish defenders on impact but also has the moves to make the first guy miss. Though he isn’t going to break a lot of 20-plus yard runs, he’s a nightmare to try to contain as he will routinely bite off 4-7 yards per pop. Harris’s big powerful body and ability to dominate on every-down is rare, and his playstyle in the NFL will likely land somewhere between Le’Veon Bell and Steven Jackson.

At this point, it seems highly improbable that Harris will make it to Pittsburgh’s pick in the second round, and they would likely have to take him at 24 if they really wanted to draft him. While I’m never a fan of taking running backs this early, he would certainly give the Steelers a boost on offense in a season where they are desperately trying to compete. You better believe that, if drafted, Harris would assume RB1 duties from day one.