Update (1:24 PM): Harris tweets he played at 240 pounds as a rookie, meaning his 244-pound OTA weigh-in is only a minor increase. Still, Harris certainly didn’t drop weight going into his second season. But Harris clearly isn’t happy with the framing of things.
Our original story is below.
If Najee Harris looks a little bigger this season, your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you. It’s because he is bigger in 2022. A lot bigger. Harris told reporters today he now weighs 244 pounds heading into his sophomore season as passed along in this tweet from SNR’s Wes Uhler.
Harris weighed in at 232 pounds during his 2021 Alabama Pro Day, meaning he’s added twelve pounds since then. It’s shown with Harris looking like an old-school, bruising running back in clips shared of him at OTAs.
For most Steelers running backs, they’ve used their sophomore seasons to slim down. Le’Veon Bell played in the 240-pound range his rookie year, but dropped down into the 220’s for his second season and remainder of his Steelers’ career. James Conner and Jaylen Samuels also slimmed down following their rookie years; in fact, Conner underwent a pretty remarkable body transformation from 2017 to 2018. Harris is going in the other direction, but clearly, it’s all muscle and good weight being added.
Harris may be anticipating another year of being Pittsburgh’s workhorse running back. Last year, he carried the ball over 300 times and touched it nearly 400, setting the Steelers’ rookie record for most receptions in a season, a whopping 74 of them.
Though weights fluctuate and it’s hard to get accurate readings around the league, Harris has to be one of the heaviest backs in football. Perhaps Derrek Henry, listed at 247 pounds, still has him beat, but in this modern era with committees and big plays, most backs have slimmed down. There is the question over Harris’ ability to create explosive plays, having just six of them his rookie year on 307 carries. But that may be more up to the Steelers’ offensive line and wide receiver blocking, the latter often the catalyst for 10+ yard runs that bust into the open field. Still, this offense is going to need chunk plays in the run and pass game, and Harris will need to provide more than what he did his rookie season.
Harris looks the part of a 244-pound running back. And defensive backs are going to feel every ounce of that once the season gets underway.