Player Profile: Najee Harris

Height: 6’2”
Weight: 230 lbs
School: Alabama

Why you’re drafting him…

The University of Alabama continues to churn out top running back prospects, and that’s exactly what Najee Harris is. Taller and heavier than your typical pro running back (6’2″, 230 lbs), Harris possesses a unique skillset as both a runner and pass catcher out of the backfield. He runs with tremendous power both between and outside the tackles, and while he doesn’t have elite speed or quickness, you still won’t find many defenders that’ll track him down once he gets out in space. His biggest asset may be the overall effort he gives on every play. He finds ways to earn additional yards on the majority of his carries, and is rarely brought down by just a single defender once he breaks through the line of scrimmage. Despite his height/weight combination, Harris carries himself well as an upright runner. You typically don’t want to see your RB’s run as upright as Harris does, but we’ve seen it work out just fine for others in the past (ex: Derrick Henry/Adrian Peterson). His unique build also makes him impactful as a route runner as he unexpectedly (due to body type) possesses good hands and ability to create after the catch. He’s patient and waits for holes to develop (think Le’Veon Bell but not quite to that extent), but also knows when he needs to put his head down and take the couple of yards that the defense is allowing. Harris is arguably at his best when he can plant his foot into the ground and cut back to become more of a north-south runner.

Needs to improve…

Harris isn’t very shifty and doesn’t have several moves to make defenders miss in space, but rather, he relies on his power and overall effort to fend off the last line of defenders. While he’s going to gain a good amount of yards after contact, those yards are going to have to be earned due to Harris’ lack of moves in open space. Harris would likely benefit and take less of a beating if he could teach himself to lower his pad level and not be such a large target for defenders to hit, but changing running style is likely easier said than done.

Prediction for 2021 NFL Draft…

It’s likely between Harris and Clemson’s Travis Etienne as to who will be the first running back off the board in the 2021 NFL Draft. The position of running back being somewhat devalued over the the last few years won’t help Harris’ case for being selected early in the first round like he may have been a decade or so ago, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see him come off the board in the back half of the first round, or within the first 10-15 picks of the second round. Since Harris will likely be one of the first RB’s selected in April, expect him to be a year-one impact player.

Dynasty fantasy football spin…

The majority of dynasty league rookie drafts will see Harris off the board within the first two or three picks. The scarcity of quality running backs in fantasy football, mixed with Harris likely being selected by a team that plans on using him early and often, will make him hard to pass on anywhere in the 1.01-1.03 range. His ability as a pass catcher makes him even more enticing as fantasy owners crave RB’s that can earn additional points via receptions.

Check out Zach Hicks of Stampede Blue break down Najee Harris with the guys on the Loaded Box Podcast (Harris discussion starts at the 5:10 mark of the episode)

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