PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Pittsburgh Steelers are turning to Alabama star Najee Harris to give their running game a jolt.
The Steelers selected Harris with the 24th overall pick Thursday night, confident he can help a rushing attack that finished dead last in the NFL in yards rushing in 2020.
Harris ran for 3,843 yards and 46 touchdowns in four seasons with the Crimson Tide, including 26 last fall while helping Alabama to the national title. The 6-foot-1, 232-pound Harris is also a capable receiver out of the backfield, catching 43 passes for 425 yards and four touchdowns as a senior.
Pittsburgh is looking to maximize whatever time left it has with veteran quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. The 39-year-old restructured his contract to ensure he would be back for an 18th season and Harris provided the opportunity to grab a player who could make an immediate impact.
The Steelers went 12-5 last year but wilted down the stretch, dropping five of their final six, including a blowout loss to Cleveland in the opening round of the playoffs. A running game that struggled to generate much of anything allowed defenses to tee off on Pittsburgh’s short passing game.
Harris’ arrival could go a long way to fixing the offense’s most pressing problem. He is the first running back taken by the Steelers in the first round since they selected Rashard Mendenhall in 2009 and just the fifth running back taken in the first round since 1970.