When the Pittsburgh Steelers drafted Najee Harris in 2021, the first-round pick was often compared to former Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell due to their pass-catching abilities and similar measurables with both standing at 6-foot-1. Today, Bell said on the Steel Here podcast with Kevin Adams and Jersey Jerry that Harris needs to lose some weight — something Bell did after the Steelers drafted him in 2012 at the behest of head coach Mike Tomlin.
Bell said Harris reminds him of himself his rookie season and to really hit that next level it would be beneficial for him to slim down.
“I felt with him he needs to lose weight,” Bell said. “Cause I feel like he’s kind of like how I was when I first came into the league. I feel like he wants to be nimble. Like he runs like a scatback, not really, but he has a lot of skiff to him. He jumps over people.”
Bell did say he is a fan of Harris and that he certainly has his highlight plays but added that for Harris to be quicker he should probably shed some weight. To Bell’s point, while Harris is a physical back, he struggles to break explosive runs because he doesn’t have lightning-fast speed.
If Harris were to lose some weight, he could gain some speed back. Last year it was reported that he entered the season at 244 pounds and Harris did struggle in the first half of the season. However, those struggles may have been more to do with a Lisfranc injury and the Alabama product playing with a steel plate in his shoe, hampering his acceleration. After that was removed, he started to play a lot better.
You can also argue that that Harris did naturally lose some weight over the season and that due to that he started to play better. Either way, Harris started playing really well towards the end of the season and with a new improved line, Harris should excel in 2023 if healthy.
But we should take Bell’s opinion seriously. After he cut weight, he hit a new level of play. While they are not the same running back, their builds are similar and Bell got quicker after cutting weight. It certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing for Harris to get quicker so long as it doesn’t take his physicality and durability away.
Check out the entire conversation below.