Accomplished ESPN sportswriter and staff writer Bill Barnwell released his annual ranking of offensive playmakers (receivers, tight ends, and running backs) for each of the NFL's 32 teams.
On this year's list, Barnwell listed the Pittsburgh Steelers group of playmakers at No. 13, down one spot from their 2022 rankings.
In his analysis, he noted his expectations for receiver Diontae Johnson's touchdown drought to come to a quick end based on his production in his first three seasons in the NFL.
"In his first three seasons, Johnson converted 47% of his end zone targets into scores. Last season, he went 0-for-10. Even allowing for the move from Ben Roethlisberger to Kenny Pickett, I strongly doubt he goes 0-for-the-end-zone again in 2023."
Perhaps the most revealing aspect of his analysis was when he mentioned running back Najee Harris as the "biggest weakness" from the group of Steelers playmakers. Despite registering consecutive1,000-yard rushing seasons, Barnwell pointed out Harris' inability to register healthy yards per carry as the reason why he can be an offensive liability.
"Harris has stayed healthy and assumed a large workload, but among the 25 running backs with 300 or more carries over the past two seasons, Harris ranks last in yards per carry, rushing yards over expected, success rate and EPA per carry. The only back who gained fewer rushing yards over expected per carry is Alvin Kamara."
Taking into consideration the issues of the Steelers offensive line the last two seasons, Barnwell pointed out that backup running back Jaylen Warren posted a positive RYOE figure on 77 carries last season behind the same offensive line.
For Harris, taking the leap forward is imminent behind an upgraded offensive line and a ground offense that improved exponentially during the second half of the 2022 season.