Is Najee Harris now a lock for the Steelers first draft selection?

Najee Harris #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Najee Harris #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Steelers fanbase has been taken by surprise following James Conner’s free agency decision.

The entire concept of the Pittsburgh Steelers taking a running back in the first round of the upcoming NFL Draft has seemed asinine at best. This is due to the fact that there have always been multiple counterarguments to debunk such an idea, including the need for offensive line help, the offense practicing a more pass-based regime and, the knockout punch: the Steelers already possessing a Pro Bowl RB in James Conner.

Unfortunately, those who hold that perspective have taken a huge blow to the head recently. On April 13th, Conner signed with the Arizona Cardinals. As a result, there is exponentially less to say in the defense of Pittsburgh’s current rushing unit than there already was.

With such undesirable circumstances, the Najee Harris craze is going to be immensely fueled, to the point that the Steelers drafting him with their sole 1st-round pick almost seems like a guarantee.

All hope is not lost, however, as there is still a ton to discuss when debating such a matter. For starters, just because James Conner relocated does not mean that all of the other aforementioned hiccups within the thought processes of prioritizing a RB are gone as well. Pittsburgh still needs some sizable O-line help (especially with the whole Alejandro Villanueva situation), and the offensive scheme will still orbit around quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and his multiple targets.

These are some predominant and still accurate examples as to why the offensive line needs paramount attention here. A QB (especially of Ben’s age) needs protection to be able to strategically pass the ball anywhere down the field. And how stellar of a rushing attack can the Steelers possibly have if the running back unit does not have an adequate line to lead them, or to make a hole?

It is also very perplexing as to why Benny Snell appears to get virtually no credit for his efforts whatsoever. Sure, he was a bit of an afterthought last season, only being relied upon so much. But while in those moments, he consistently showed great promise as an asset who was easily capable of moving the chains.

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Of course, no one is happy about the Pittsburgh Steelers and James Conner parting ways, and I wish him the best of luck with his future endeavors in Arizona and anywhere else he may go. However, his absence does not signify the end of the world as far as the Steelers offense altogether, and the organization should not lose any sleep over the thought of Najee Harris not being on their final roster. The team has bigger needs at the moment, and can surely survive with an RB1 like Snell.