Najee Harris could be the Pittsburgh Steelers’ pick at #24. That is, if he’s still there. Everyone has a draft plan until picks start flying off the board. But according to insight from Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline, he sees a clear path to Harris landing in the Steelers’ lap.
In a Tuesday mailbag, he outlined the reasons why he thinks the Arizona Cardinals at #16, the Miami Dolphins at #18, and the New York Jets at #23 could pass on Harris, despite all arguably needing to address the position.
Pauline began by writing he feels 16th overall is a little too early for Harris to go. He also noted he doesn’t fit the Cardinals’ scheme under HC/OC Kliff Kingsbury. Arizona lost Kenyan Drake to the Raiders but they’re reportedly high on Chase Edmunds and signed former Steelers’ back James Conner to a one-year deal last week. It sounds like the Cardinals will either take a wide receiver or address a need on defense, possibly cornerback.
Arguably the biggest threat to taking Harris are the Miami Dolphins at #18. They did little to add to the running back position in the offseason and can use their earlier first round pick, 6th overall, on a blue-chip prospect. But Pauline downplays those odds, too, though he admits the team is “high” on Harris’ game.
“Still, while I won’t completely discount it at this point, I think it’s less than 50-50 that the Dolphins choose Harris.”
A darkhorse could be the New York Jets at #23. Could they snatch Harris one spot ahead of Pittsburgh, just as the Cincinnati Bengals did with William Jackson III in 2016? Possible but Pauline doesn’t believe so.
“For the past month, I’ve known that the New York Jets like Harris a lot. However, I doubt they take him with their second pick in the first round at No. 23”
Pauline cited scheme fit and their desire to draft a running back in the second round as reasons why the Jets would pass. Which leaves the Steelers there to take him. And as we wrote about earlier this week, Pauline believes Harris is squarely in play.
“So once again, it comes back around to the Pittsburgh Steelers, another team that’s sky-high on Harris — as I’ve reported since the Senior Bowl. Those close to the situation tell me it’s a perfect fit. “
The smoke has been around Harris and Pittsburgh for a long time now. It’s not locked-in but if Pauline’s prediction comes true and Harris is available, he has to be considered the favorite to be the pick. The good news is one week from now, we can put to bed this round-and-round speculation and get some concrete answers.