By: KDKA-TV News Staff
PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — A good gauge on how Steeler Nation feels about things at any given time can often be summed up by checking in with Pittsburgh native Billy Gardell. When it comes to this year’s first-round draft pick Najee Harris, Gardell gives his Yinzer stamp of approval.
Gardell recently sat down with CBS’ D.J. Sixsmith to chat about the Steelers, the NFL Draft, as well as some talk about the Penguins and Pirates.
When asked about how he feels about the Steelers having drafted Najee Harris, a running back from Alabama, he said “I’ve been saying it. That’s what happened to us in November. If you can’t run the ball in November, you’re not going anywhere.”
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Gardell then discussed how running backs can affect a defense’s gameplan, specifically with how the running back can help draw safeties towards the line of scrimmage to help open up the passing game. James Conner was mentioned by Gardell, saying that he loved Conner and his story, but he just didn’t think he was getting it done for the team.
“We draft linebackers like people buy oranges,” Gardell went on to say, discussing how the team often has nine linebackers on the bench at all times, using the linebacker depth as the reason he was hoping the team would select a running back that can be a punisher.
BOOM!! GREAT PICK, WELCOME TO THE BURGH🔥 https://t.co/WmPNSdVp3l
— Billy Gardell (@BillyGardell) April 30, 2021
“I think he’s (Harris) one of those players that can make an impact right away,” Gardell said. “And with this maybe being Ben’s last year, I think this is a piece we were sadly missing.”
Gardell drew comparisons to the 1990’s when the Denver Broncos drafted Terrell Davis and how his addition to that team helped John Elway.
“I’m really excited about it, and last time we drafted a Harris, it worked out pretty good. Shout out to my buddy, Franco.” Gardell added, bringing up Hall of Fame running back and 4-time Super Bowl champion Franco Harris.
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Gardell then went on to mention how watching the NFL Draft can make you feel old.
“Nothing makes you feel your age like watching the draft. I was watching the draft and you’re like, see these kids that are 20, 22, and you’re about to be a pro ball player. I’m 52 and getting into the garage takes an effort.”
Gardell and Sixsmith then moved on to talk about the Pirates, with Gardell saying he’s a diehard fan but they break his heart, mentioning that we (the fans) get hopeful and that’s followed by a fire sale. He went on to discuss how at last check, the team was above .500, which is progress, given how poorly the season started.
“I stay with them through thick and thin, I’m like any Pittsburgher,” Gardell said. “I complain and I’m miserable and I stay with them, they’re my team.”
The conversation wrapped with discussing the Penguins, who just clinched their 15th straight trip to the postseason.
“They were an incredible surprise this year, because we thought with some of the losses and injuries, the expectations were very low for the Penguins this year, but they have been a pleasant surprise, and I’m getting secretly optimistic” Gardell said.