The Pittsburgh Steelers are filled with household names. T.J. Watt, Cameron Heyward, Minkah Fitzpatrick, Najee Harris, and even Kenny Pickett are names almost every NFL fan knows. But, NFL rosters are made up of 53 men and some of those 53 athletes are well-known to their teams’ fanbase and not to the national media.
One of those players who is well-known to Steelers fans but not the casual NFL fan is running back Jaylen Warren. While Warren is currently a well-kept secret, PFF is doing their best to showcase him to the world calling him Pittsburgh’s “secret superstar” in an article today.
“Pittsburgh’s offense wasn’t dynamic this season, but Warren brought some juice to the unit,” wrote Marcus Mosher. “He saw just 77 carries in the run game but averaged 4.9 yards per rush and 7.6 yards per reception on 28 catches. The most impressive stat about Warren is that 24.5% of his runs went for 15 or more yards. He’s an incredibly dynamic running back who should see a lot more work in 2023.”
Warren, an undrafted free agent, started out as a training camp darling and turned into a quality player for the Steelers this season. Warren was so well-liked that before Harris’ play picked up after the bye week many fans were calling for Warren to be RB1 in the Steel City.
On the season Warren picked up 379 rushing yards on 77 carries, scoring one touchdown in his rookie campaign. While he did not have incredible numbers, his ability to pass block was what initially got him more playing time, becoming the Steelers’ third down back in Week Five against the Buffalo Bills.
Warren was graded highly by PFF this season, finishing with a grade of 73.8. His ability to hit the hole quickly and almost always gain positive yards, coupled with his ability to pass block made him a very efficient running back. In fact, Warren was graded as the second-best back on the Steelers this season by PFF, behind Benny Snell Jr (84.0) and just ahead of Najee Harris (73.5).
With Warren gaining a year of experience and now having a full offseason to take what he learned and grow, expecting him to break out next year isn’t too far-fetched. Having him and Harris split carries is something that can be very beneficial down the stretch and possibly into the playoffs next year as Harris was very efficient the last two months of the season with Warren helping shoulder some touches. With the Matt Canada offense being very run-oriented, having two really good running backs is a huge luxury.