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A Case for Jaylen Warren

Matt (@mattolsonff) and Nick (@bigmuzz26) wanted to give you all a breakdown of Jaylen Warren and what we can expect moving forward.

So you may have seen the below tweet today from Andrew Filliponi from Pittsburgh’s 93.7 The Fan today regarding Mike Tomlin potentially benching Najee Harris for Jaylen Warren. The more we’ve watched Harris run this year the more he has reminded us of Trent Richardson in his rookie year. Hell I even accidently wrote “Najee Richardson” in the first sentence of this article; and Matt even tweeted about this back on October 31st, as you’ll also see below.

Harris has constantly run with no vision this year. The offensive line can only be blamed so much for this. Najee is supposed to be a talented enough running back that he should be able to still find yardage. Instead we’ve seen Warren almost beat him out in every statistical category average wise this year. Tomlin would be foolish to not at least move this to a 50/50 split.

One stat that really sticks out is that Warren ranks 12th out of every running back in run blocking rate where Najee has the the 53rd. Is that by chance? Does the O line just hate him? Did he poop in their cereal? There’s no way that there should be this big of a discrepancy when Warren is averaging 1 carry to every 4.5 of Harris’.

Whether Najee has cereal beef with his O line or not, Warren has earned himself a longer look going forward for the Steelers. At 2-6, an unacceptable result to this season, and now a potential lost season in sight, Coach Mike Tomlin is pulling out all of the stops to try and get his team moving in the right direction. And if that means giving more playing time to an undrafted rookie over a first round pick that you handed the keys of the backfield to, then so be it. At the end of the day, production and performance matters.

As was mentioned, Warren is an undrafted rookie out of Oklahoma State, where he rushed for over 1200 yards and double digit touchdowns (11) after transferring from Utah State for his senior season. Warren won the backup job coming out of training camp, leapfrogging Benny Snell who held down that role the last two seasons. Warren has seen his playing time increase each week and had his most productive game against the Eagles in Week 8 prior to the Steelers’ Week 9 bye.

Warren flashed some twitchy lateral agility to make defenders miss in the open field with his slippery elusiveness, but also displayed a low pad level to run through arm tackles. Listed at 5’8/215, he profiles as more of a 3rd down scat back who can catch passes, but he’s shown in his limited opportunities that he can be more than just a role player when his number is called.

No matter what happens, this is a situation to monitor if you’re a Najee owner. I’d keep a close eye on how this plays out. It appears quite clear that there will be more of Jaylen Warren involved in the Steelers offense going forward.

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