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With the NFL in the slow portion of the offseason, Pro Football Focus has been releasing their rankings for the 32 best players in the league at each respective position. Yesterday, Sam Monson of PFF released his running back rankings and he had Steelers' first-round pick Najee Harris ranked as the 20th-best running back in the league.
"Ranking rookies is always a tough ask without any real knowledge of how they will perform at the next level," Monson wrote. "Harris is a complete back who can be a force in the passing game as well as on the ground, and he could get a huge workload as the Steelers look to justify their pick and rejuvenate their run game. Harris averaged 3.7 yards after contact per carry in college."
Being that Harris hasn't played a down in the NFL yet, it's pretty justifiable for Monson to have him ranked at No. 20 among running backs in the league. However, if Harris can have an over 1,000-yard rushing season in his rookie year, which should be the expectation, he could find himself as a top 10 back by the time the 2021 season ends.
Along with rushing for 3,843 yards on 638 carries (6.0 average) and 46 touchdowns at Alabama, Harris also had 80 receptions for 781 yards (9.8 average) and 11 touchdowns.
Harris said during his media session last week at rookie minicamp that the Steelers will utilize him in the passing game, as well.
"There are a lot of things that are similar, just different terminology, the same meaning at the end of the day," Harris said of the similarities between the offense at Alabama to the Steelers. "The one thing that is similar is how they are going to line me up out wide like they did in college, utilize the running back in the passing game out wide, in the slot, at the X position."
Judging by Harris' comments, it appears he'll be utilized similar to how Le'Veon Bell was when he was with the Steelers in regards to the passing game. However, Harris' main job will be to tote the rock and help get the Steelers struggling running game back on track. As mentioned, Harris having at least a 1,000-yard rushing season in his rookie season should be the expectation, provided that he remains healthy. If he plays all 17 games, I honestly don't see how he doesn't reach that mark with the kind of talent he possesses.