Pittsburgh Steelers' Najee Harris Expected To Challenge For Top Honor

By Jason Hall

July 28, 2021

Alabama v Mississippi State
Photo: Getty Images

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Najee Harris enters his first NFL season with lofty expectations.

That doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon.

NFL.com is projecting Harris to be the most likely candidate to challenge Jacksonville Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft, for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year Award during the upcoming season.

Lawrence, the consensus top prospect prior to being selected by Jacksonville in April, is the clear-cut favorite, especially given the advantage of playing quarterback, typically the front-runner position for the award.

But several running backs with big debut seasons have won in recent years and Harris, the first to be selected at his position in 2021, is "a worthy contender" playing in the Steelers offense.

"Harris gives the Steelers a bruising three-down back with qualities similar to former Steelers star Le'Veon Bell," NFL Media Draft analyst Lance Zierlein wrote. "Harris is a tenacious runner with good vision and the agility to make tacklers miss when needed. He should stack up rushing yardage, but his ability as a pass catcher and touchdown maker could be the difference if he is to win the award.

Harris was selected by the Steelers at No. 24 overall during the first-round of the 2021 NFL Draft on April 29.

The former University of Alabama standout ranked as the No. 1 running back and No. 2 overall prospect for the 2017 national recruiting cycle prior to a stellar collegiate career.

Harris won two College Football National Championships (2017, 2020) during his four seasons at Alabama.

As a senior, Harris led all FBS running backs with 26 rushing touchdowns and ranked third nationally with 1,466 rushing yards, which led all SEC players, winning the Doak Walker Award and being selected as a Unanimous All-American, as well as a first-team All-SEC running back.

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