What if Harris has a great season for the Steelers?
If Harris has a year like the one I’ve outlined above, I will eat some crow about my opinions of him. For those of you that don’t know, I think the process of drafting him in the first round was foolish and he is a very average player. That opinion hasn’t changed much so, as his career has been inefficient.
I want a first-round running back to be a true game-changer, not just someone that can compile some stats or benefit from strong offensive lines. I don’t believe that Harris is that player, but a best-case-scenario season would change that view.
While he sees a lot of carries, he is also an extremely productive player with those carries. 4.8 yards per carry would be a welcome sight and would indicate some longer runs. Harris will never be a player to bust off long runs all the time, but a higher average means he got some space on some runs and created more at the second level.
Harris also has an effective year as a receiver. Warren still bites into that workload, but Harris makes plays in space and with the ball in his hands. He doesn’t need elite receiving numbers, but a bettering of his 2022 showing would be nice.
He also finally becomes a top-tier scorer, finding the endzone 17 total times. He also nearly racks up 2000 total yards for this offense. While a new offensive line should get some credit for this success, it also indicates that Harris may have turned a corner and is on a path of greatness.
Each of these scenarios are oddly close. While the outliers are there, I am consistently expecting Harris to cross 1000 rushing yards again. That doesn’t mean he has a great season, as this team likes to feature him despite some inefficiencies. I would be shocked if he varies much though, even behind a better offensive line.
I keep pulling myself to the average season I outlined as what I think is realistic. Again, he has better production due to the line, but he is mostly the same player as before. In no way does that make him bad, but it certainly keeps the discussion of his validity as a first-round pick alive.