Now that the 2021 season is over, bringing yet another year of disappointment, a fifth 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 have seen and are seeing over the course of the season and into 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 reasoning. 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. Because of this, we can and will see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: RB Najee Harris
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: The Steelers knew who they wanted with their first-round selection in 2021, and during his rookie season, I believe Najee Harris showed them that he was everything they thought he would be.
Not everybody is on board with the concept of using a first-round pick on a running back, but where he was drafted is water under the bridge at this point. He’s not going to play any better or worse in 2022 because of his draft positioning last year.
Najee Harris is going to be one of the best running backs in the league—some would argue that he already is. After all, he did make the Pro Bowl as an alternate, which suggests that he is at least in the top 8-10 or so.
The fact that he managed to rush for 1,200 yards (nearly 1,700 yards from scrimmage) and score 10 touchdowns working with the offensive line the Steelers put together last year is a testament to his own abilities, frankly.
No doubt, there were some things that he had to work on in his game over the course of the year, himself repeatedly discussing his need to focus on what’s in front of him and taking what’s available, rather than trying to create what isn’t there.
Even without regard to everything that goes on on the football field, you can also tell that Harris is going to be a big presence on this football team as a leader, and I think we’re going to see him take on a big role in that regard in 2022. He’ll probably be a team captain by 2023. He’s that kind of person.
Barring some crazy move this offseason to bring in a legitimate, established quarterback with a game-ready passing attack, 2022 is going to be Najee Harris’ season. The front office must use their resources to supply him with an offensive line that can claim to be competent. Realistically, that should be even higher on their agenda than selling out to find a quarterback in this particular offseason.