There’s plenty to like about Najee Harris. His size, his power, his receiving ability, all the way down to an infectious, fun personality. No doubt Mike Tomlin likes all those things. But first and foremost, Tomlin loves Harris’ mindset, attitude, and approach to the game.
Tomlin joined NFL Network Sunday afternoon and was asked to evaluate Harris’ performance so far.
“He’s all business,” Tomlin told Maurice Jones-Drew and Scott Hanson. “He’s all business whether it’s in the classroom or working on skill development with his coach. And he’s all business when it comes to competition. I mean, he lights up in the football-like drills that we present to him. Whether it’s blitz pickup, whether it’s routes versus linebackers or safeties. He embraces all of it. And that’s a good thing to see.”
Immediately after getting drafted, Harris spent hours with RBs Coach Eddie Faulkner in the film room to the point where Faulkner had to order Harris to go home and get some rest. That competitive spirit has carried over to the practiced field in training camp. Though he hasn’t been perfect in backs on ‘backers, a tough drill for any offensive player, Harris has taken as many reps as anyone and hasn’t shied away from a challenge. He’s had some great battles with Marcus Allen in particular.
As Tomlin preaches to the rookie class every year, conditoning is key. Some of the best players in football history were the best-conditioned ones. Harris might not be at that all-time level but he’s off to a great start.
“It’s a good sign when you got a guy that comes in at top flight condition and has a competitor’s will. l. So we’re just going through the process, trying to make each day a productive one. And he’s been a big component of it.”
Harris has practiced every single day and played in Thursday’s Hall of Fame Game. We haven’t tallied up the numbers but there’s probably a relatively short list of guys who can say that. Excluding specialists, I’d say around 20 players. This rookie group in general have been part of that group: all draft picks sans Pat Freiermuth have been available every single step of the way.
As we’ve said several times, Harris has been as-advertised. That’s the best thing you can say about a first-round pick. So far, so good.