Now that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2023 season is getting underway after the team finished above .500 but failing to make the postseason last year, we turn our attention to the next chapter of Steelers football and everything that entails. One thing that it means is that some stock evaluations are going to start taking on more specific contexts as we get into the season, reflecting more immediate plusses and minus rather than trends over long periods. The nature of the evaluation, whether short-term or long-term, will be noted in the reasoning section below.
Player: RB Jaylen Warren
Stock Value: Up
Reasoning: Jaylen Warren recorded just the second instance of a Steelers running back recording a 100-yard game on single-digit carries on Sunday, becoming the first to do so since Barry Foster in 1991. He rushed for 129 yards on just nine carries.
It’s not often that a purported backup player leads your team in yardage without injuries playing a significant component. Yet that’s where the Steelers stand with RB Jaylen Warren, who continues to see fewer opportunities than Najee Harris at the position.
In a losing effort on Sunday against the Cleveland Browns, the second-year player recorded only nine rushing attempts. Despite the minimal work, he managed 129 yards from it, including a 74-yard rushing touchdown. He still managed to rush for 55 yards on his other eight carries even if you take out the explosive run.
It was only the second time in Steelers history, according to Pro Football Reference, that a running back rushed for 100-plus yards on fewer than 10 carries for an entire game. Barry Foster in 1991 was the only other running back to do it; however, QB Kordell Stewart managed it twice, in 1996 and then in 1998. The team lost all four of those games, coincidentally.
The thing is, Warren shouldn’t have had single-digit rushing attempts. It’s hard to explain it, let along justify it, though part of the issue is the fact that they just didn’t have all that many snaps for the entire game, somewhere in the 50s.
Just a week after recording the first 100-yard rushing game of his career, and two weeks after his first 100-yards from scrimmage performance, Warren topped 100 yet again. His 129 yards on the ground are 28 more than he has had in a single game previously, and his 145 yards from scrimmage are 32 yards better than his previous career high.
At 6.2 yards per attempt, he is also leading the NFL. He also has the fourth-longest run of the season, the longest belonging to Breece Hall of the New York Jets for 83 yards. The longest rushing touchdown of the season belongs to De’Von Achane at 76 yards. Hall also had a 72-yard touchdown.
But Warren is continuing to rewrite his scouting report, now putting that long speed on tape that we got a glimpse of during the preseason. His previous career-long run was 31 yards; for the 2023 season, it had been just 22. He didn’t have an explosive run on the year before the Titans game. He has four in the past three games.