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ESPN labels Jaylen Warren a “winner” after the 2024 NFL Draft

No matter what you are talking about in the world of football, there are always players who benefit from decisions, and those who don’t. Often times, these players are considered to be “winners” and “losers”. Every offseason, especially after the NFL Draft, players may have found themselves teamed up with a future replacement after a top pick was spent at their particular position.

In this case, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell recently took a look at who were the ultimate Winners and Losers, not just from the NFL Draft but also from free agency and other key decisions made by organizations.

Of all the players listed, the Pittsburgh Steelers had one representative on the list, and it was a winner. To be more specific, it was Jaylen Warren. Take a look at why Barnwell lists Warren as one of the league’s top “winners” after the 2024 offseason to date:

Winner: Jaylen Warren, RB, Steelers

If you’ve watched the Steelers’ offense closely over the past two seasons, you’re likely owed the right to some sort of compensation. You’ve also probably noticed the offense looks much more explosive when Warren has been in the game at running back. While 2021 first-round pick Najee Harris has struggled for consistency and big plays, the undersized Warren has exhibited an ability to create something out of nothing. He has generated 170 rush yards over expectation over the past two seasons, 207 more than the highly touted Harris has produced with more than twice as many rush attempts. Warren also has become a highlight reel-caliber pass-protector in the backfield.

The Steelers responded by taking some much-needed steps to improve the blocking in front of Warren. After spending a league-low two top-100 picks on offensive linemen between 2013 and 2022, they used a first-round pick on Broderick Jones a year ago. They followed up this year by using their top two selections and four of their first six selections on offensive linemen, most notably nabbing Troy Fautanu and Zach Frazier in the first two rounds. Frazier profiles as the long-term replacement at center the Steelers have lacked since Maurkice Pouncey’s retirement after the 2022 season, while Fautanu should take over at left tackle for Dan Moore.

Pittsburgh then declined Harris’ fifth-year option, a move that shouldn’t be surprising given that he has averaged 3.9 yards per carry as a pro. Harris has stayed healthy and hasn’t been given much help, but he has been outplayed by Warren in the same lineups. Warren moved into a timeshare as the 2023 season went along, and he could push ahead of Harris for starting duties in 2024. If he does, the 5-foot-8 back should enjoy more help than he has had in previous years.

What do you think of Barnwell’s assessment? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below, and be sure to stay tuned to SCN for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the offseason.


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