With the No. 24 pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Pittsburgh Steelers landed the top running back in this year’s class. Filling a much-needed position in the backfield, fans of Steeler nation were thrilled by the selection of former Alabama superstar Najee Harris.
That excitement has made its way to one Pittsburgh football legend as well. During an appearance on NFL Network earlier today, Hall of Fame running back Jerome Bettis shared his reaction to the Steelers’ first-round selection.
“I was ecstatic when they made the pick,” Bettis said. ” I thought that they didn’t understand or recognize the error of their ways when they went away from the power running game — and I think with that pick, they realized ‘Hey. We have got to get back to running the football.'”
— NFL Network (@nflnetwork) May 4, 2021
Through the 2020 season, the Steelers finished dead last in rushing offense with just 84.4 yards per game and 1,351 yards on the season. Adding on to those backfield woes, last year’s leading rusher, James Conner, left the team to join the Arizona Cardinals in free agency earlier this offseason.
As the first running back off the board in this year’s talented draft pool, Harris should have an immediate impact as the lead back on the Pittsburgh offense in 2021. Through his senior season with the Crimson Tide, the national champion RB finished fifth in Heisman voting after logging 1,891 total yards and 30 touchdowns.
If Harris is able to have anywhere near the impact that Bettis did in his rookie season, the Steelers are in for a treat. After he was selected by the Los Angeles Rams with the No. 10 overall pick in the 1993 draft, “The Bus” notched 1,429 yards and seven touchdowns on his way to All-Pro and Pro-Bowl selections. In his first season with the Steelers in 1996, he notched his second All-Pro honors behind 1,431 yards and 11 touchdowns.
With increased offensive line depth and Harris at the running back position, the Steelers will look to add a much-needed power running game in 2021.