Najee Harris may have been the Pittsburgh Steelers’ first-round pick and the first running back off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft, but he may not have as much upside in the Rookie of the Year race as initially thought.
Harris, who is currently +600 on WynnBET to win the Rookie of the Year award, has struggled this preseason behind a new offensive line.
The Steelers lost longtime starters David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey ahead of the 2021 season.
DeCastro, a six-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, and Pouncey a nine-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro, won’t be replaced overnight.
ProFootballFocus has ranked Pittsburgh’s offensive line as the second-worst unit in the NFL heading into this season, and that comes after they signed five-time Pro Bowl guard Trai Turner.
The issues have shown in the preseason, as Harris has averaged just 3.2 yards per carry through the Steelers’ first three preseason games.
It’s not just Harris, as the Steelers as a whole averaged just 2.9 yards per carry behind a suspect offensive line. Things may change as the group plays together more, but Harris is only going to be as good as the blocking in front of him.
While having Chase Claypool, JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson at receiver should prevent teams from stacking the box against the Steelers, this has been an issue for more than just this preseason.
The Steelers had the worst rushing offense in the NFL in 2020, totaling just 1,351 yards on the ground, and Harris alone is going to have a hard time fixing that.
Harris had a lot of value when he was +1600 to win the Rookie of the Year award, but at the fourth-best odds (+600), we may have to see how he fares in the regular season before backing him to win this season.
Can Harris win Rookie of the Year? Make your pick now on WynnBET.