2023 Offseason Questions: Will Jaylen Warren Have More Receptions Than Najee Harris?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Will Jaylen Warren have more receptions than Najee Harris?

Najee Harris saw 422 snaps on passing downs last year against Jaylen Warren’s 233. Warren actually ran a route at a slightly higher percentage of those snaps, 73.8 to 70.3, with Harris acting as a receiver 297 times to Warren’s 172.

Warren was targeted 33 times, catching 28 passes for 214 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per target and 1.24 yards per route run. Harris was targeted 45 times, catching 36 passes for 229 yards, averaging 4.3 yards per target and 0.77 yards per route run, but he also scored three touchdowns, including the dramatic game winner against the Baltimore Ravens near the end of the season.

Over the final six games of the season, Warren was targeted 15 times, catching 12 passes for 77 yards. Harris was targeted 17 times, catching 12 passes for 87 yards and the touchdown in the Ravens game. Warren was just returning from injury at the beginning of that six-game stretch.

So, those are the numbers to consider. You’re free to draw conclusions from them as you please. Also worth noting is an interview with Missi Matthews earlier this offseason in which Warren expressed a belief, based on what he had been told, that the coaches want to get him more work in the passing game.

Harris didn’t get as much work in the passing game last year as he did as a rookie, no doubt in large part due to Warren’s emergent capabilities in that area, but he is potentially dynamic playmaker with good hands, as we saw, not dissimilar to Le’Veon Bell.

But if the Steelers truly like both, it will be interesting to see how the targets end up getting distributed in this area. I doubt we’ll see them on the field at the same time very often at all, if ever, so the snaps will have to be divided somehow.

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