The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a great history of running backs. Is their newest draft pick going to be one of the next to join that list? With the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, the Steelers selected Najee Harris out of Alabama. Let’s take a look back on some of the greats and see where this young man can sit amongst the greats in the franchise’s history.
Franco Harris (1972-1983)
Harris made an impact in his first year where he ran over 1,000 yards and scored 10 rushing touchdowns. He would continue to grow off that great season as he rushed for nearly 12,000 yards for the black and gold which leads the franchise. Totaling 91 rushing touchdowns, 9 Pro Bowls, 4 Super Bowls and would be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1990.
Jerome Bettis (1996-2005)
Next up is the “Bus” who had his final stop in Canton, so that’s all you need to know about number 36. The Bus is 2nd in rushing yards with 10,571 yards and 78 rushing touchdowns. Bettis would win Super Bowl XL but took a lesser role to our next back on this list, but let’s not forget who set up that big run for Willie Parker…
Willie Parker (2004-2009)
The undrafted man known as “fast” Willie who took over for the Bus, took the job in stride setting the Super Bowl record for the longest run in the big game. Parker ran for over 1,200 yards in 3 straight years and won two Super Bowls with the Steelers.
Rocky Bleier (1968-1980)
Rocky played his rookie season and then was drafted into the Vietnam War. He came back and fought himself into football shape to play 10 more years. He may not be high on the team’s list in yards or touchdowns, but his impact was felt as he would win 4 Super Bowls with the Steelers.
Le’Veon Bell (2013-2017)
He may have left on bad terms, but this man was far from a bad running back for the black and gold. Bell was a unique back in the history of the franchise because of the different ways he was used in the offense. From being lined up as a wideout in formations, to the patience he had running the ball waiting for the hole to open up, Bell was one, if not the best back in football when he was healthy for the Steelers. He would be a 2x All-Pro and a 3x Pro Bowler with the team, finishing with over 5,000 yards and 35 touchdowns.
With a list of that many star running backs, Najee Harris has a lot to do to be mentioned in that list, but a lot of people around the league and the organization think he can be one of the best for the next 10 years. The kid has all the tools needed with the outrageous athletic ability. Future Hall of Fame quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger said, “Once (Najee) gets it and it clicks and he goes full speed man, it is going to be something to see,” and that is something Steeler Nation can not wait to see.
How do yinz think Harris will do this season? What will his legacy be in the long hall? Comment below!