When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Najee Harris, they knew that they were getting more than just a running back. No, I’m not talking about him being a wide receiver, too. What they’re getting is a football player, first and foremost, and a leader. What they’re getting is perhaps the future face of the franchise. That’s what he sounded like talking to reporters yesterday about what he sees for his group moving forward.
“We’re really young. Somebody’s got to step in there”, he said about leadership. “It can be me, but somebody’s got to step in there and really just show the identity of what the team is and show how it is to be a Steeler here. I’m willing to be that person, but also, I need some guys with me”.
“We’ve got Diontae [Johnson], Chase [Claypool], Pat [Freiermuth], K.G. [Kendrick Green]. We’ve got a whole young team to back me up, and not only back me up, but I’m backing them”, he added. “The future of this organization, I’m really excited to see where we’re headed, because of the tools that we’ve got and some of the young pieces that we have”.
Harris was their first-round pick last year at running back, with Freiermuth taken in the second round at tight end and having a similarly strong rookie season. Green has struggled at center as their third-round pick, but fourth-rounder Dan Moore Jr. has shown flashes of potentially being a viable long-term option at left tackle.
Aside from the rookies, they also have other young players like the aforementioned Claypool and Johnson, second- and third-year receivers, respectively. There’s also Kevin Dotson, a second-year starting offensive lineman at left guard. Their potential starting quarterback next year would be Mason Rudolph, who is in his fourth season now.
“We could do something great. We’ve just got to get in the film room, we’ve got to spend more time with each other, we’ve got to build a better bond”, Harris said. “We’ve got to know each other more. That’s gonna be a big challenge for me, I feel like”.
Of course the big question mark is the quarterback position, and who is going to be back there. We know it’s not going to be Ben Roethlisberger. Will it be somebody already on the roster? Will it be an outside veteran? A rookie? The Steelers certainly don’t know right now.
What they do know is that Harris is going to be their running back for at least the next four years, and he’s only going to get better. If they can continue to make strides with the offensive line, he could be a dominant player. And he’ll quickly become a leader in that locker room, if not a team captain, in short order.