(Photography by Karl Roser of Steelers.com)
Pro Football Focus has not been very friendly to the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 2021 offseason. They decided to take a shot at Ben Roethlisberger's arm on Twitter yesterday which is unusual for them to do because they generally are not ones to troll, but rather they are more serious in regards to statistics and rankings. PFF did not like the Steelers selecting a first-round running back in the 2021 NFL draft, but they say Najee Harris will become the next great running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
They also said Harris will be able to rise above the Steeler's offensive line problems in 2021. The reason why PFF feels Harris will overcome their line issues in Pittsburgh is that his sheer volume in Pittsburgh coming from the backfield and receiving game will make him an elite back in the NFL if he can stay healthy. Meaning the offensive line just has to be slightly better than they were last season in regards to the run. I believe Adrian Klemm will get his new offensive line in shape before the 2021 season starts.
Yes, bad line play can lower running backs production, but it seems like the Steelers will become very physical on the line with Adrian Klemm going forward. Harris is elite enough to overcome a bad offensive line, but I think the Steelers might surprise the NFL with how they're trying to revamp their offensive side of the ball during the 2021 offseason.
Le'Veon Bell averaged 24.9 touches per game on the Steelers during 2013-2017. Imagine what Najee Harris's workload is going to be going forward in Pittsburgh. PFF says 250 touches are Najee Harris's absolute floor, assuming his health is good all season long. They also could see him hit 300 touches as well. That is a ton of football if Najee Harris can stay healthy on the football field in Pittsburgh.
Harris currently owns the fourth-highest grade (87.7) when running outside zone in 2019. In 2020 he received an overall PFF grade of 89.8 which is almost a 90. He had 252 rushing attempts, 1,466 rushing yards, 26 touchdowns, 43 receptions, and 425 receiving yards with Alabama. That is ELITE level running.
Pro Football Focus feels the Steelers will not have an elite offensive line in the near future, but they feel the offensive line will be better in 2021 than they were in 2020. With all of that said they still feel Najee Harris will become the next great running back going forward in Pittsburgh.