The Pittsburgh Steelers had plenty of options on the board for pick #24 Thursday night. And if they wanted to, probably could’ve moved down. But Kevin Colbert said he didn’t have any interest in taking calls from other teams. Najee Harris was their guy.
“No,” Colbert said when asked if had any desire to trade down. “This year we identified eight players that if they were available, we would take them and not consider a trade. And Najee was one of those players. Ecstatic that he was there for us at 24.”
Trading down in the first round ultimately isn’t the Steelers MO. At least, not Colbert’s. He’s only done that once, way back in 2001, moving down three spots from 16 to 19 and still wound up taking NT Casey Hampton. But Harris has always seemed to be the Steelers’ “guy” and Pittsburgh had no intention of risking losing him. With the very next pick, the Jacksonville Jaguars took Clemson RB Travis Etienne.
Other options on the board for the Steelers included Harris’ teammate, center Landon Dickerson, Notre Dame LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, Oklahoma State OT Teven Jenkins, and Florida State CB Asante Samuel Jr. But Harris has seemingly always been at the top of their list.
Harris will be the Steelers’ lead back in 2021. And this team desperately needed a new running back. Though the value of taking a runner in the first is hotly debated, the Steelers weren’t going to get a feature back with his skillset later in the draft. For that reason, running back was always the favorite at 24, and the Steelers didn’t want to chance losing out on the opportunity.