The Pittsburgh Steelers have had a pretty quiet offseason with the biggest highlight being when they re-signed young wideout JuJu Smith-Schuster for what looks like a bargain of a one-year deal.
Pittsburgh was a buzz saw early last season, but it all came crashing down towards the end, before finally getting the boot from the plays via the Cleveland Browns. Nevertheless, the Steelers are still a team to watch out for next season.
Below are three options to help make Pittsburgh have a longer postseason stay in 2021.
1. Najee Harris, RB, Alabama
To say the Steelers’ ground game last season was pathetic is an understatement. Even if they are a pass-heavy team, their running backs struggled to get anything going. As longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ages, Pittsburgh would be wise to have a decent rushing attack to round out the offense.
Najee Harris would provide an immediate impact on the Steelers offense. He has a violent running style and is an absolute bruiser. Harris wears down defenses and at 6’2, 230 pounds, he is tough to bring down even for bigger linebackers. Crimson Tide fans could rest easy during goal-line situations knowing they had Harris who can punch a hole in the defense for a touchdown with relative ease.
Harris is more than just a sledgehammer though, as he has arguably the best hands among all running backs in this class. He is a weapon in the passing game and can alleviate some pressure from Roethlisberger. With his long arms and athleticism, Harris is a big target, who can haul in contested catches. Considering his position, he has a pretty diverse route tree which would be more than welcomed by the Steelers.
He is not the fastest running back out there, but that could be expected of someone with his frame. Harris will have to fight the notion that Alabama running backs have significant wear-and-tear on them.
2. Travis Etienne, RB, Clemson
Similar to Harris, Etienne is also money in goal-line scenarios. He is a different type of running back though. He is much smaller at 5’10, 210 pounds, but he is dangerous every time he touches the ball. With every handoff or pass to Etienne, he is a threat to make a big play that can shift the game’s momentum.
Speaking of passing, he improved his work in the catching department. He is not limited to just getting passes from the backfield as he has shown the ability to run some routes. Etienne has game-breaking speed and is a very agile runner who would fit in perfectly with the Steelers offense.
He would not be able to offer much in terms of pass protection, but this should not be a deal-breaker given his talent.
3. Tevin Jenkins, OT, Oklahoma State
It is natural to blame the running backs when the ground game falters, but the offensive line did not do the Steelers any favors in 2020. While the Steelers did a good job in keeping the pocket clean, the same could not be said in creating openings for the runners. The team’s best run blocker, Alejandro Villanueva, is still a free agent but even if he returns the unit could use an infusion of young upside.
Tevin Jenkins has good size at 6’5, 317 pounds. He is a mauler in the run game, plays aggressively, and is one of the strongest guys in the draft class.
His pass protection is not at the same level as his run blocking, but he could learn a thing or two in this area from his Steelers teammates in the trenches.
The Steelers will have plenty to digest and dissect in the lead up to the draft. These three options would provide instant impact to help the offensive side of the ball.