The Pittsburgh Steelers were thinking of a dynamic, game-changing running back when Najee Harris was selected 22nd overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. While this seems to be a very strong draft class, Harris is certainly one of the best drafted players given his impact on the Steelers. Jeff Legwold of ESPN released an article Wednesday ranking the top 10 rookies in the NFL. When I went to read it, I was shocked when I didn’t see Harris’ name as one of the top guys. The players listed are very good and while Harris isn’t #1, he is definitely deserving of being recognized as one of the best young stars in the league this season.
The rookie from Alabama has the most touches (248) out of any offensive player in the NFL this season and has been the focal point of the Steelers game plan on offense. He is first in rushing yards for all rookie running backs (708) and eighth in the league overall. He is also second in the NFL in running back receptions (52). Harris is the best running back from the 2021 draft class, holds an extremely valuable position on offense and he doesn’t crack the top 10? Someone explain to me how this makes any sense.
Not only was Harris not in the top 10, but he was the very last player mentioned in the article. Sure, his offensive line has been inconsistent and banged up, but that makes the numbers he has put up even more impressive. It almost seems like because of the struggles on offense, Legwold believes Harris isn’t deserving. He is playing on an offense that is quite broken and he has been the most consistent piece (honorable mention: Diontae Johnson) for Mike Tomlin‘s offense. Legwold notes that Harris has six games of 16 carries or less. In those games, he has 34 receptions for 211 yards and a touchdown. How does that get overlooked here?
Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah of the Cleveland Browns is ranked ninth and has only played in six games this season. Is a guy with 49 tackles, one sack and one forced fumble more deserving of being listed in the top 10 than Harris? No. Nate Hobbs (ranked sixth) has been a stud for the Las Vegas Raiders, but are his seven starts and three penalties more commendable than Harris’ efforts? No.
Harris will probably never see the article on ESPN, but I would bet to say that in a couple years, he will be noticed as one of the top five players from the 2021 draft class and we will look back at Legwold’s opinion piece and laugh. There is some bias here, but Harris is not being given the credit that he deserves for how great he has been in his first season.
Do you think Harris is being undervalued by National Media and fans of the NFL? Let us know in the comments below!