The Pittsburgh Steelers are back in the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex earlier than they had anticipated, having been ousted from the postseason in the opening round, which unfortunately marks the fifth consecutive season in which they failed to win a postseason game—a new record for the franchise since the merger. Yet again, they find themselves undergoing the exit meeting process earlier than anticipated, which means so are we.
The Steelers did arguably perform at or above expectations this year by going 9-7-1 and making the postseason at all, a reflection of just how much talent they lost during the offseason, from the majority of the offensive line to Mike Hilton, Bud Dupree, Steven Nelson, and Vince Williams—not to mention Stephon Tuitt, essentially.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between head coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2021 season.
Player: Najee Harris
Experience: 1 Year
Breaking a number of franchise rookie records is not a bad way to start off your career, which is what Steelers first-round running back Najee Harris did in 2021. He ran for the rushing yards, scrimmage yards, and all-purpose yards, while also setting the rookie reception record and the record for most touches without a fumble (not just the most by a Steelers rookie, but the second-most by anybody in NFL history).
And that’s the appetizer. It’s more than reasonable to expect that Harris will be even better in 2022, and not just because of projected improvements around him. Getting the offensive line into much better shape is obviously going to be key, but we should expect him as a player and a professional to be better within his own game.
He talked a number of times throughout the season about having to learn when to be patient and when to be aggressive. He was figuring out how different it is to be playing behind something other than Alabama’s offensive line, which seemingly never has fewer than three players who will become future NFL starters at any given time.
Arguably the only thing truly lacking in Harris’ bag of tricks is genuinely elite speed. Not that he shouldn’t be able to break off his share of 20-yard runs in the future, but don’t expect him to rival Derrick Henry in 50-plus-yard touchdown scampers.
With that said, he has everything else you could possibly want, and will continue to develop. He is sneakily elusive, both as a runner and receiver. He has good hands—even in spite of some drops—while knowing a genuine route tree. He is physical, powerful, and athletic. He ran run you over and then hurdle the guy behind you while stiff-arming another.