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Najee Harris Lands Inside Top 10 Of Maurice Jones-Drew’s RB Rankings Ahead Of 2022 Season

Throughout much of his rookie season as a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers, running back Najee Harris floated between the top 5 and the top 10 at the running back position in former nine-year NFL veteran Maurice Jones-Drew’s rankings for NFL.com.

Harris capped off his rookie season rushing for 1,200 yards and seven touchdowns on 307 carries, adding another 74 receptions for 467 yards and three scores, setting a new franchise rookie rushing record and breaking the Steelers’ rookie all-purpose yardage total while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in the NFL, along with an offensive scheme that was rather handicapped overall throughout the 2021 season.

Still, Harris found a way to produce and seemed to really find his game down the stretch, helping the Steelers reach the playoffs in Ben Roethlisberger’s final season. Now, entering the 2022 season, Harris will be leaned on even more offensively for the Steelers, while also aiming to become more of a team leader overall.

Knowing what it takes to succeed in the NFL, and appearing to have added muscle this offseason to help withstand the workload that’s undoubtedly coming, Harris is poised for a big second season. Jones-Drew seems to agree, ranking Harris No. 9 overall in his top 32 RB rankings for NFL.com Thursday afternoon.

“With a player not named Ben Roethlisberger under center on a permanent basis for the first time since 2003, the Steelers’ offense is primed to go through No. 22,” Jones-Drew writes regarding Harris in his position rankings. “He had an outstanding rookie campaign with zero fumbles on 381 regular-season touches. He’s durable and poised to lead the unit in the run game while also providing a big boost in the pass game.”

Pittsburgh rebuilt the offensive line some in the offseason, bringing in veterans Mason Cole and James Daniels in free agency. The Steelers also added quarterback Mitch Trubisky in free agency and drafted Kenny Pickett in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft. With those additions along the offensive line and under center, the Steelers’ offense should be much-improved in 2022 under second-year offensive coordinator Matt Canada, who now has the ideal skillsets available at the quarterback position with Trubisky and Pickett, not to mention Mason Rudolph.
If the play around him can improve, that will give Harris more room to operate and less of an ask to be Superman offensively for the Steelers, much like he had to be last season, forcing the most missed tackles in the NFL on runs and catches by a wide margin, while also dealing with the most contact behind the line of scrimmage among all qualified running backs in the NFL.
With some minor improvements around him, Harris could be poised for a monster second season in the NFL, which would help the Steelers in a major way as they aim to make the playoffs once again under head coach Mike Tomlin.
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