Please, compare Najee Harris to the last Steelers 1st round RB
By Andrew Falce
Where did the Steelers go wrong?
There seem to be two pitfalls to the Steelers having selected Mendenhall in the first. The main issue was they got a non-elite running back. He could post fine stats, but a lot of that was due to workload. In his three primary seasons, Mendenhall touched the ball 860 total times in only 43 starts.
His rushing numbers, in particular, failed to inspire confidence. Over those three years, he only averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and a lot of that is lifted due to his second season. His best statistical year (2010) saw him only net 3.9 yards per carry. Those numbers don’t tell a complete picture (running backs are more than just their yards per rush), but Mendenhall was less dynamic and more inefficient with his carries.
Mendenhall also never had a great line to run behind. His rookie season featured an aging and often injured line that was highlighted by Marvel Smith and Kendall Simmons playing in their final season. His line in 2009 was slightly better, as Max Starks was a fine tackle and Chris Kemoeatu was a fine mauler.
2010 saw the only real improvement that Mendenhall got on this line, as the Steelers invested their top pick in Maurkice Pouncey. Beyond that though, the line was still a far cry from an elite unit. This remained a consistently average unit through 2011, and the team finally began investing in the line during 2012.