Now that the 2021 offseason has begun, following yet another year of disappointment, a fourth consecutive season with no postseason victories, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the offseason as it plays out. We will also be reviewing players based on their previous season and their prospects for the future.
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Najee Harris
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger offered some high praise for his new featured back, first-round pick Najee Harris, when speaking to reporters yesterday, praising his work ethic.
The most consistent thing that we have heard about rookie running back Najee Harris across a multitude of interviews has been praise for his work ethic, which came even before the draft, when he showed up to his team’s Pro Day just to support his teammates, driving there himself. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has already been noticing the Alabama ball-carrier in this regard through a week-plus of OTAs.
“Well, he is a really hard worker. He is in here extra-long. I think the other day the running backs coach told him, ‘Hey Najee, I have to go home now’”, he joked — though was it really a joke? Because running backs coach Eddie Faulkner has also talked about long film study sessions and things of that nature.
Roethlisberger said that these things show the game, and the level, is not too big for him as a rookie, that he doesn’t appear to be lost, and points to the questions that he does ask as a good sign that he has a good grasp on what they’re trying to do.
The quarterback also praised him for “playing fast”. Even though it’s only OTAs, it’s always crucial to be able to play fast, in the sense that, if you’re not playing fast, it’s because you’re spending too much time thinking about what you’re supposed to do rather than doing it.
Work ethic is great to have, but you also need talent to succeed. Pittsburgh wouldn’t have taken Harris where he was if he didn’t have talent, but the running game relies upon so many moving parts. Yet at the end of the day, he can only control what he can control. It’s not on him if the other facets aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.