2021 NFL Draft: Najee Harris Player Profile

Najee Harris NFL Draft Overview

Position: Running Back
Height: 6’ 1”
Weight: 232 lbs
School: University of Alabama
Arms: 33 ¼”
Hands: 10 ¼”

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Najee Harris 2021 NFL Draft Profile

Overview

Najee Harris is the bell-cow running back from Alabama entering the draft following a national championship season. Harris, just coming off a tremendous season, looks to be one of the top five running backs drafted in 2021. His collegiate career began following a stellar high school career. Harris was a five-star prospect out of Antioch High School in the San Francisco area. He was a highly sought after recruit with offers from nearly every football blue blood in the NCAA.

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Harris’ NCAA career was slow early on, involved in timeshares and stuck behind Josh Jacobs. In 2018 Harris split time with Damien Harris before winning the job outright in 2019. The senior running back ran nearly a mile on teams in 2020 with 1,466 yards. He averaged 5.8 yards per carry with 13 touchdowns. Harris is a versatile athlete and a skilled pass catcher. He had 425 receiving yards on 43 catches with four touchdowns. Harris is also very durable with only two minor injuries in his career at Alabama. These injuries included an injured ankle during the 2020 national championship and a foot injury requiring a cast in 2018, the latter costing him zero games in the respective season.

Harris is a physical ball carrier, much like the Crimson Tide backs that came before him. He would be a great addition to any team in need of a reliable ball carrier to move the chains and soften the opponents’ deep coverage to open up the passing game. While at Alabama, Harris played in three national championship games and winning two: 2017 & 2020. Harris also was voted a unanimous All-American, first-team SEC, and was the Doak Walker Award winner.

Strengths

  • Physical, down-hill runner;
  • NFL size;
  • Acceleration: Ability to jump and cut quickly;
  • Durable;
  • Great pass catcher;
  • Above average route runner;
  • Ball security: Only one fumble lost in college career.

Weaknesses

  • Lack of patience: Harris will run into blockers at times. Doesn’t always wait for the hole to open;
  • He takes more hits than necessary: Runs into tacklers rather than stepping out of bounds;
  • Average speed: He will get caught from behind on homerun plays;
  • Age: Harris will be 23 years old when entering the NFL;
  • Below average pass protection.

NFL Comparison: Derrick Henry

NFL Team Fits: Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Harris would fit well in Pittsburgh with the absence of a dominant running back. The young, future phenom, also has a physical style of running that would fit well with Mike Tomlin’s current offensive scheme. Harris is a tall running back, similar to Le’Veon Bell–a former Pittsburgh star. Najee Harris’ pass-catching abilities are also similar to Bell’s. The Steelers have not been able to transition from Bell since the superstar sat out before leaving in free agency to the New York Jets. Harris could step in and fill that void with tremendous production.

The Dolphins drafting Najee Harris makes too much sense at this point. Many mock drafts put DeVonta Smith in Miami, Tua Tagovailoa is the current quarterback, and there is not a workhorse in Miami as of right now (Myles Gaskin, Salvon Ahmed, Malcom Brown are all three currently on Miami’s roster). Why not round off the offense by drafting the best running back in the 2021 class, who also happens to have played for Alabama. Tagovailoa, Smith, and Harris could be a three headed monster from Tuscaloosa feasting on the AFC East.

Harris would also fit great in Tampa Bay with Bruce Arians and Tom Brady. Harris’ down-hill running style fits well with the Buccaneers as evidenced by success from Ronald Jones, when healthy, and Leonard Fournette. The Buccaneers also have a great offensive line in place to protect Brady and control the line of scrimmage, spelling success for a young star running back. Tampa Bay is a great fit for Harris as Tom Brady looks to push the ball vertically to an elite wide receiving core with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Scotty Miller, and Tyler Johnson. These elite wide receivers will soften the box, leaving plenty of running room for Harris. This play-action pass and running game scheme fits well with the relentless pass rush Tampa Bay displayed in Superbowl LV.

Projection: Mid to Late 1st round, First running back drafted

Bottom Line on Najee Harris

Najee Harris enters the NFL Draft as a powerful, down-hill runner similar to former Alabama running backs such as Derrick Henry. He is different from these bruisers in his ability to run routes and catch passes. Harris is a reliable running back who rarely fumbles and has consistently avoided injury. The former Crimson Tide running back held his own private track meet, running for 5.8 yards per carry, while playing against the county’s premiere football conference.

He would be a valuable addition to any team devoid of a consistent three down back. Once getting to the NFL and learning an offense, Harris will learn the team’s playbook and responsibilities in pass protection to earn a bell-cow role from day one. Harris looks to become an all-pro running back for the next half-decade once he learns patience and how to protect his body, avoiding the big hits. At 6’ 1” 232 pounds he will be a ground and pound runner that looks to becoming stronger in the fourth quarter, much like his predecessors.


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