With the 2020 NFL regular season now completed, it’s officially become mock draft season and that means it’s time to start passing along the predictions from the major media draftniks. Thursday morning, Todd McShay of espn.com released his first mock draft of the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft and he has the Pittsburgh Steelers predicted to pick 28th overall and selecting Alabama running back Najee Harris.
Here is what McShay wrote about his mock selection for the Steelers:
James Conner is playing out the final few games of his rookie deal and might not return. If he doesn’t, running back will be a hole. Benny Snell Jr. looked adequate this season when called upon, but Harris is different. His 1,387 rushing yards are third in the FBS this season, and he has averaged two scores on the ground per game. Speed, power, pass-catching and pass-protection ability, Harris brings it all.
On the quarterback front, Pittsburgh could potentially land one of the top five guys, but a deeper option also could be in the mix if Ben Roethlisberger decides to retire and/or the team does not do something in free agency. Offensive line also is a big-time need, so perhaps Wyatt Davis (Ohio State) or Trey Smith (Tennessee) are in the mix.
During the 2020 season, Harris rushed for 1,387 yards and 24 touchdowns and he also caught 36 passes for another 346 yards and three touchdowns. For his college career, Harris, who is listed at 6014, 230-pounds, rushed for 3,764 yards and 44 touchdowns in addition to catching 73 passes for 702 yards and another 10 touchdowns. Harris also registered 26 runs of 20 yards or longer during his college career at Alabama.
It’s worth noting that Harris will reportedly turn 23 years of age in March.
McShay mocking Harris to the Steelers isn’t overly surprising and it’s likely we see the Alabama running back linked to the Steelers as their possible first-round selection quite a bit between now and the 2021 NFL Draft taking place.
The last time the Steelers selected a running back in the first-round of an NFL draft was in 2008 when they picked Rashard Mendenhall at 23rd overall.
We’ll absolutely have a scouting report on Harris during the offseason, in addition to several other running backs in this year’s draft class, as there’s a very good chance the Steelers will look at selecting one at some point during the 2021 NFL Draft. The Steelers have selected a running back in each of the last four drafts with last year’s selection being Anthony McFarland Jr. out of Maryland.