Steelers draft: Grading the Najee Harris pick in the first round

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) /
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Najee Harris #22 of the Alabama Crimson Tide. (Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images) /

The Bad: Did the Steelers reach on a position of need?

What is the best-case scenario for Najee Harris in the NFL? If you have been following along closely with what is happening with the running back position in the league, even the great players seldom have lengthy, productive careers.

Take Le’Veon Bell, for example. Bell’s last impactful season came at the age of 25, and it has been all downhill since then. Todd Gurley was very much the same way, as his production and efficiency fell off a cliff at a very similar age. Even if Harris turns out to be terrific, the Steelers may be compelled to pay him a massive second contract with hardly any tread left on the tires (we’ve seen this time and again around the league).

Najee is already 23 years old and he will be 28 following his fifth-year option. This means that the best-case scenario may be for him to give Pittsburgh 4-5 really good years before moving on. This is not, by any means, an indictment on the player; rather the position. The running back position in today’s NFL has never been less valuable. While Harris could prove to be a treat in the passing game thanks to his soft hands and every-down skill set, his time at the top may not last very long, and he could be an afterthought five years from now.