Come back in time with me to the spring of 2021. We are in the middle of the pre-draft process with a few weeks to go until the 2021 NFL Draft gets underway, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are making the rounds at the Senior Bowl, the Combine, and on the Pro Day circuit to interview and evaluate the top prospects in the draft class to finalize their draft board and decide who they were going to select to add to their roster.
However, according to RB Najee Harris, the Steelers’ first round draft pick was never up for debate.
Appearing with QB Mitch Trubisky on the Not Just Football With Cam Heyward podcast, Heyward asked Mitch Trubisky about his experience this offseason when he decided to sign with the Pittsburgh Steelers as an unrestricted free agent. After detailing his story, Heyward asked Harris about his draft story, which Harris detailed as an expected result in his eyes.
“So, with me, the Steelers organization, it’s nothing like exciting like [Trubisky’s],” Harris said to Heyward on Not Just Football With Cam Heyward. “They made it pretty obvious that they were getting me. I think that was like the most obvious draft pick in history, maybe. I mean, it was just everybody knew it.”
If you followed along the draft coverage at Steelers Depot for any point of time last offseason, you were well aware of the fascination the Pittsburgh Steelers had with Alabama RB Najee Harris. Given the team’s presence at the Senior Bowl and at Alabama’s Pro Day, Pittsburgh had made the affinity well-known during the pre-draft process, having their fingerprints all over the talented running back who finished his college career with 1,387 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns along with 36 receptions for another 346 yards and three touchdowns. Harris won the Doak Walker Award as college football’s top running back, and finished off his college career with a CFP National Championship.
Many of the contributors here at Steelers Depot, as well as others who follow the Pittsburgh Steelers, pegged Harris to be the pick at #24 overall if he was available. Harris saw it the same way, saying that the Steelers at #24 overall was his floor in terms of perceived draft position going into the event.
“I mean, like I thought I was going to go to the Cardinals at 16, then the Dolphins at 18, but I wasn’t going to get past the Steelers,” Harris said. “Like they said if you’re there at 24, we’re going to get you.”
Going through the pre-draft process, the Cardinals and the Dolphins posed the biggest threats to snipe Harris from Pittsburgh. Fortunately, Arizona opted to select LB Zaven Collins at #16 overall and Miami selected EDGE Jaelan Phillips, thus allowing Harris to fall into Pittsburgh’s lap at #24 overall, where the rest would become history.