Steelers look to Alabama celebrity Harris to jump-start run game with 24th pick that is overall

by: Allie Berube, Associated Press

Alabama operating back Najee Harris (22) operates using the ball throughout the Rose Bowl NCAA university soccer game in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)

PITTSBURGH (AP) — The discussion ended up being quick. Possibly since there actually wasn’t explanation to possess one.

The Pittsburgh Steelers had been regarding the clock. Alabama celebrity Najee Harris had been available. The steelers practically made NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell sprint to the podium during an opening round of the NFL draft that lagged at times.

The sooner the Steelers could bring Harris in to the fold — and moreover, to the backfield alongside quarterback Ben Roethlisberger — the better.

Pittsburgh is looking at the explosive Harris to offer the NFL’s worst operating game a jolt while simultaneously supplying Roethlisberger with another playmaker into the huddle with what could possibly be their last period.

The Steelers selected Harris utilizing the 24th pick that is overall evening, confident he is able to assist a rushing attack that finished 32nd when you look at the NFL in yards rushing in 2020.

“I suggest, i realize they did complete final in rushing year that is last” Harris stated. “But … I’ve been devote a lot of situations like it is absolutely nothing I can’t do with time for certain.… We feel”

Unlike at Alabama, Harris most likely won’t have to wait available for their possibility in Pittsburgh. The game that is running been erratic at the best since Le’Veon Bell’s All-Pro period in 2017. James Conner had difficulty remaining healthy in four periods before making in free agency previously this month. Benny Snell ended up being erratic at most readily useful final period and Anthony McFarland Jr. saw small playing time.

As opposed to make use of their top pick for a unpleasant lineman after losing three beginners in retirement or free agency, the Steelers rather made Harris the very first running right back they’ve chosen in the 1st round since Rashard Mendenhall during 2009.

“We were ecstatic he had been here so we took him quickly with small to no discussion,” coach Mike Tomlin stated.

Possibly because Harris’ actions during their four years at Alabama talked therefore loudly.

The 6-foot-1, 232-pounder ran for 3,843 yards and 46 touchdowns in four periods with all the Crimson Tide, including 26 final autumn while assisting Alabama into the nationwide name. He additionally evolved as a capable receiver out for the backfield, getting 43 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns as being a senior.

It’s a 12 months Harris felt he owed himself after exactly just what he considered a subpar 2019, at the least by their own standards that are high. Therefore as opposed to go into the 2020 draft, he opted to go back for starters more run because of the Crimson Tide, learning to be a celebrity on an united group high in them along the way.

The Steelers can use some

Pittsburgh is looking to maximise whatever time left it’s with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The 39-year-old restructured his agreement to make sure he will be straight back for the eighteenth season and Harris supplied the chance to grab a new player whom will make an impact that is immediate.

The Steelers went 12-5 year that is last wilted along the stretch, dropping five of these last six, including a blowout loss to Cleveland into the opening round associated with the playoffs. a running game that consistently sputtered permitted defenses to tee down on Pittsburgh’s passing game that is short.

Harris believes they can assist in more means than one. Yes, they can carry a heavy workload out for the backfield — he ran it 251 times final period alone — but he considers himself an extensive receiver, too. Their pedigree is not that much different than Bell, whom found its way to Pittsburgh in 2013 after serving being a workhorse at Michigan State.

Bell quickly became among the NFL’s most useful all-around backs. Harris need the opportunity to result in the exact same jump.

“They included more games on,” Harris stated, talking about the NFL expanding the season that is regular 17 games. “Now we’re playing more games therefore I feel you may need a person who can hold the strain for sure.”

Investing in the ongoing work comes obviously to Harris. He survived a turbulent youth within the Bay Area in California, including a stint at a shelter that is homeless. On Thursday, he invested a percentage of their trip to the shelter getting together with young ones and reminding organizers that he never plans to forget his roots while he might be heading east.

Roots that will now expand to a group with a rich history at the career he plays. It’s a history Harris understands of — he’s well-versed within the jobs of Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Jerome Bettis — and one he’s wanting to increase also if he waited a little more than he expected to hear their title called by Goodell.

“Running backs are devalued,” Harris stated, prior to later on adding, ‘But merely to finally view it take place, (I’m) endowed.”

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