The latest in a line of productive running backs to come out of Alabama, Najee Harris is expected to be among the first at his position to be taken in the upcoming 2021 NFL Draft. While Harris may not be on the same level as another former Crimson Tide stud who has since become a two-time NFL rushing champion, he also could thrive in the right offensive system.
(This profile is one of 230 featured in the Athlon Sports 2021 NFL Draft Guide. With in-depth scouting reports on the top prospects, position rankings, and more, no source will have you better prepared for draft day. Click here to get your copy.)
Najee Harris Draft Profile
Another big power back from Nick Saban’s program, Harris is a violent, thrashing runner who regularly runs through contact. He has the size and natural contact balance to work his way through traffic and then punish tacklers at the second and third levels — he delivers a wallop at the end of runs. There are times when he’ll drag multiple defenders to gain extra yardage. He’s nimble on his feet for a big man, featuring a nice spin move and the ability to string together a couple moves to get to the second level. He’s a quality weapon in the passing game, with soft hands and the ability to get upfield quicker than you’d expect in the screen game, consistently picking up chunks of yards as an open-field runner. He brings the size and willingness to thrive in blitz pick-up.
There’s always a question of how well big backs who thrive on physicality will transition to the pros. Harris is an upright runner who presents a huge target for tacklers to hit. He’ll dish out punishment, but even at his size, what kind of workload will he be able to handle when he’s unable to avoid contact? While his size and alma mater invite Derrick Henry comparisons, Harris doesn’t have the kind of breakaway long speed that Henry possesses — and, like Henry, he can be a bit sluggish going 0-to-60 and needs the ball in his hands early in the down to get a runway. A quality offensive line will be especially key to his success.
Harris is a power back who might lack high-end explosiveness, but he is a potential difference-maker in a wide-zone scheme with the ability to stay on the field on third downs.
Final Grade: 2nd round