What the Pittsburgh Steelers are getting in Alabama running back Najee Harris in 2021 NFL Draft

Sam Thornton
The Tuscaloosa News

Alabama football running back Najee Harris was taken by the Pittsburgh Steelers  in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft with the 24th overall pick on Thursday.

The 2020 Doak Walker Award winner had a standout junior season with the Crimson Tide, earning All-America honors and contributing to a national championship season.

Here's what the Steelers are getting in Harris: 

The positives 

Harris is a physical runner with a blend of size and speed. He can produce additional yardage after contact.

Harris is a three-down back. His downhill running style is hard to stop and he rarely fumbles. He has the ability to quickly change direction and make defenders miss.

Harris can also be utilized in the passing game and has improved his route-running skills over the course of his career. 

Images of Alabama running back Najee Harris are displayed after the Pittsburgh Steelers made him the 25th pick in the first round of the NFL football draft, Thursday, April 29, 2021, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

The concerns

Being a physical running back in the NFL can bring up problems in the future, such as durability and the likelihood of injury. Although Harris did not suffer any significant injuries during his time at Alabama, taking heavy hits on a consistent basis in the NFL is a different challenge.

The only thing Harris lacks is explosive speed that could lead to bigger plays unless he hurdles a defender to create an open field. 

Jan 1, 2021; Arlington, TX, USA;  Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) leaps over Notre Dame cornerback Nick McCloud (4) as he makes a long run for a first down Friday, Jan. 1, 2021 in the College Football Playoff Semifinal hosted by the Rose Bowl in AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports

Final thoughts 

Harris has been a tremendous player during his tenure with the Crimson Tide. During his junior season, he rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns to finish fifth in Heisman Trophy voting. He also caught 43 passes for 425 yards and four more scores.