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John Clayton ‘Could See’ Najee Harris Being Steelers’ First-Round Pick

The 2021 NFL Draft is still about two months away, but we have been 10 months into the mock draft cycle, so that’s not really an issue. Trevor Lawrence has been the consensus number one pick for three years already, after all.

When it comes to the Pittsburgh Steelers, there is broad consensus at least that the first-round pick is going to be an offensive player. Whether that is an offensive lineman or a running back has been the closest thing to a debate, but many believe that if running back Najee Harris is available, then he should be the pick.

A number of analysts have mocked the talented running back to the Steelers, including John Clayton, who appeared on 93.7 The Fan last week in order to discuss the team, and he explained his reasoning, though I’m sure most don’t need convincing.

I would have to think that they like him. I can’t imagine why they wouldn’t”, he said. “Again, you can see the way this league goes now, is you don’t necessarily have to get that running back in the first round, and the way the Steelers usually draft, they usually end up taking a linebacker or a defensive player in the first round”.

“But again, knowing the importance of the running game, and knowing that there’s change in offensive coordinators, change maybe a little bit in offensive philosophy, I could see Najee being that first-round pick”, he went on.

Assuming he is their most realistic top pick on their board, then the next step is determining whether or not he is going to be available, and Clayton believes things like that are going to be harder to determine than they have been in many years.

“Now the question’s going to be, does he get past the Jets at 23”, he said. “It’s so early right now. Here we are with no Combine, no real depth of being able to figure out how everybody stacks up against each other. The other things that’s kind of a slippery slope is that you don’t have the interchange between agents and teams, where they’re talking about who they like”.

Second contracts for running backs are a generally bad investment when you look them over throughout history. Even Christian McCaffrey has been mentioned in trade rumors at this point, and he was thought to be the exception because of how much work he does in the passing game.

But if you can get six years out of a back—using the fifth-year option and a franchise tag—that’s probably fair value for a first-rounder if it provides a major upgrade to handicapping weakness, as the running game is to the Steelers.

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