Guess where Steelers RB Najee Harris ranks on Madden 23

Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Najee Harris #22 of the Pittsburgh Steelers. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images) /

Najee Harris had a very productive rookie season, but EA Sports still doesn’t believe the former Steelers first-round pick is one of the league’s top running backs.

It’s hard to be surprised by anything EA Sports does at this point. The massive gaming company is set to release the latest installment of the ‘Madden’ franchise on August 19th. Over the past week, EA Sports once again decided to slow-release their player ratings for their upcoming video game.

Unsurprisingly, fans were left outraged when they learned of some of the player ratings of top Pittsburgh Steelers players. One of the biggest snubs came when the developers rated Myles Garrett three overall points higher than reigning Defensive Player of the Year, T.J. Watt.

Recently, Madden 23 released its ratings for every running back in the league. After a Pro Bowl rookie campaign that included almost 1,700 scrimmage yards, fans thought that Najee Harris would be a lock to be a top-10 running back on the latest Madden game. He was not.

Though his overall rating improved a bit since the end of last season, Harris was tied for the 15th-highest-rated running back prior to the release of Madden 23.

Judging a player based on their Madden rating obviously isn’t the way to go, and this is pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things. However, Steelers fans are still upset that 14 running backs were rated higher heading into the season.

Harris was given a respectable rating of 85 overall. But some of the players who were ranked higher included Josh Jacobs (87), Leonard Fournette (87), Kareem Hunt (86), and the often-injured Saquon Barkley (86). Harris was tied with Falcons running back, Corderrell Patterson.

Steelers running back still has a lot to prove

While many fans think that Harris has been disrespected in these Madden ratings, I think that an 85 overall rating is high enough at the moment and that the second-year running back still has a lot to prove.

Harris was very productive as a rookie, but he wasn’t efficient. The former first-round pick averaged just 3.9 yards per carry and his run-success rate was only average among NFL running backs last year.

Additionally, Harris saw a lot of volume in the passing game but was quite inefficient in this area of the game as well. Najee averaged just 6.3 yards per reception and 5.0 yards per target, via Pro Football Reference — somehow making the passing game look more like a solid rushing attack.

Another area that the media fails to address is Harris’ hands. Despite almost always being targeted within 10 yards of the line of scrimmage, Harris managed to drop 7 balls last season. This 7.4 percent drop rate was significantly higher than Chase Claypool’s (4.8) who averaged 14.6 yards per reception last year.

Yes, the effectiveness of the offensive line does factor in heavily when it comes to the success of a running back… but that’s why I was reluctant to take one in the first round, to begin with.

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Some players were snubbed in their Madden ratings this year, but Najee Harris wasn’t one of them. The Steelers running back still has a lot of work to do when it comes to improving in running, receiving, and blocking. I’m confident he could be a top-tier running back, but he’s not there yet.