Steelers pass on Najee Harris for a QB in 2021 NFL re-draft

Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10). Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Houston Texans quarterback Davis Mills (10). Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports /

The Steelers are pleased with what they got from Najee Harris in his rookie year, but here’s why The Draft Network has them going with a QB in a 2021 NFL re-draft.

I’ve argued from day one that the Steelers should not have taken Najee Harris in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft. This was never about the talent. Harris is a good football player who can play all three downs and carry the load; however, the position just isn’t very valuable in today’s NFL.

Despite selecting a running back with the 24th overall pick in the draft, Pittsburgh still ranked 30th in the league in rushing yards and was 29th in yards per carry. These aren’t exactly the results they were striving for.

While the offensive line clearly plays a big role in this, it’s more of a testament that the Steelers should have invested in the OL than anything else. Even the best running backs in the league can’t be successful without good blocking in front of them, and at this rate, Najee is going to wear the tread off the tires very quickly.

Recently, Ryan Fowler of The Draft Network did a 2021 NFL re-draft in which he threw the rookie class back into a pool and predicted who each team would select if given the chance over again. Fowler did not have the Steelers going with Alabama RB Najee Harris. Instead, they went with Houston Texans QB Davis Mills. Here’s what Fowler had to say about this choice:

"Don’t get me wrong, Najee Harris was outstanding this fall, but a workload like the one he holstered looks to be unsustainable moving forward. While head coach Mike Tomlin understood Ben Roethlisberger was on the final legs of his career, an addition like Mills would have been ideal with No. 7 expected to hang ‘em up"

Mills was a former quarterback at Stanford, but injuries caused him to appear in just 14 college games. Mills flashed at times but was a bit inconsistent overall. During his rookie season with the Texans, Mills exceeded expectations with 16 touchdowns and 10 interceptions in his first 11 games, according to Pro Football Reference, but his sample was still underwhelming overall.

Mills would be the wrong pick for the Steelers

While I can understand why Fowler had the Steelers taking a quarterback in the 2021 NFL re-draft — knowing how bad Ben Roethlisberger looked this season and that he would not be returning — I don’t agree that Davis Mills would be the right choice in a re-draft.

Personally, I’ve said since before the draft that I would try to move into the top-10 for QB Justin Fields. Though Fields struggled at times as well, he’s got elite traits that are worth betting on at the position.

Assuming this wasn’t an option in the re-draft, the Steelers would have been wise to go with IOL Landon Dickerson — a player that Fowler surprisingly doesn’t have cracking his top-32 the second time around. Despite a lengthy history of knee injuries, Dickerson was phenomenal as a rookie — particularly in the second half of the season. He would instantly be Pittsburgh’s best offensive lineman and could excel at nearly any position along the OL.

Other re-draft options for the Steelers would include players like CB Greg Newsome, OT Christian Darrisaw, or LB Jeremiaiah Owusu-Koramoah — all of which I had graded higher than Najee entering the 2021 NFL Draft.

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The reality is that the Pittsburgh Steelers would probably make the same selection over again if given the chance. While I don’t think Davis Mills would be a good option for the Steelers, there are plenty of other players that would have been spectacular selections with the 24th overall pick this past year.