(Photo by Kent Gidley/Collegiate Images/Getty Images)
With the 2021 NFL Draft on the horizon, analytics guru Cynthia Frelund of the NFL Network came up with a list of five teams who are fits for the top running backs in the draft based on analytics.
Alabama running back Najee Harris has been linked to the Steelers in a ton of mock drafts and draft analyst Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network says Harris is the number one player that they're after in the draft.
And to no surprise, Frelund has Steelers as the best fit for Harris and also compared him to former Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell. Which has been a trend of late.
Below is Frelund's explanation on why Harris would excel in the black and gold.
"Harris is a triple threat: rushing, pass catching and blocking. Pro Football Focus calculates that he led the FBS last season in total forced missed tackles (93 total, as a rusher and receiver). His 71 forced missed tackles on rushes and 821 rushing yards after contact both ranked No. 2. He also had just three drops on 83 catchable passes over his last three seasons at Alabama. His total of 2,080 yards after contact ranks as the fifth-most since 2018. His blocking and route-concept growth project to fit best under the tutelage of Mike Tomlin and Co. My models show some similarities between Harris and former Steelers star Le'Veon Bell. They both have a higher center of gravity than the average back and they share an accelerating running style (both get faster as they run at similar rates). In Pittsburgh's offense -- and with Ben Roethlisberger's recent style of play -- Harris's potential production is supercharged."
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein recently said that a former Steelers running back coach told him that Harris reminds him of Le'Veon Bell when he was coming out, and former NFL scout Matt Williamson also said recently that Harris reminds him of Bell. Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network also sees similarities with Harris and the former Steelers All-Pro running back.
“He reminds me of Le’Veon Bell when he came out of Michigan State,” Baldinger said of Harris. “He was a great receiver, great route runner. Obviously ran the ball really well for five or six years in Pittsburgh. And I think Najee’s very similar to that."