- Contact Balance
- Receiving Prowess
- Pass Pro
- Second Gear
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Najee Harris was Alabama’s primary running back in 2019 and 2020, running in both gap and zone schemes behind a fantastic offensive line. His initial contribution was as an ancillary piece in his first two seasons with the Tide, but took over in his junior season after several players departed for the NFL.
Harris has had no injuries of concern while at Alabama, and set the SEC record for touchdowns by a non-QB in a single season in 2020. Harris’ athleticism is above average for his size, but he lacks a second gear in the open field to pull away from pursuers. At the end of games, he looks fresh and is running as hard, fast, and processes as if he had not already carried the ball 20-plus prior times.
Harris’ value in the run game stems from his ability to manipulate defenders and stay upright through contact. While going through the line, he presses the hole and forces the defender to make a choice. This allows Harris to take on half the man and run through arm tackles that he set up. His vision allows him to plot two steps ahead, as he can find the slightest crease and run defenders over on his way through. He prefers jump-cuts and chopping his feet to elude tacklers, and has the vertical prowess to hurdle defenders.
His feature size makes him a daunting task to bring down, and it shows in the way he plays. In the open field, he almost always either makes the first man miss or breaks the first tackle. He does not have a second gear to pull away from the defense, but has the burst to turn short gains into 15+ yards on a regular basis. He was afforded a fantastic offensive line at Alabama, but as an individual, Harris created yardage for himself whether it was moving piles, falling forward, or keeping his balance through contact.
He has the ability to be a game-breaker, and it is always a matter of when, not if, he will rip off a big one.
What Harris does well in the pass game is at times overshadowed by his lack of effort in pass protection. In stark contrast to his running style, Harris is bullied in the backfield. He has been run over, juked, and out-efforted on almost every rep. His physical profile suggests someone that is stout and can anchor himself to secure the pocket, but he lacks the confidence and nastiness to get the job done. Harris has been responsible for getting his quarterback mauled on multiple occasions, and will be a major liability at the next level.
However, Harris shines as a receiver showing soft, natural hands, and the open-field ability to take it the distance from anywhere on the field. When split out wide, Harris shows good route running and has a knack for finding the open spaces on the field. He is a hands-catcher, not allowing it to get into his body and his only area of concern is the occasional concentration drop.
Harris projects as a three-down back, possessing a natural instinct to find daylight and avoid going down on first contact. His pass catching prowess masks what is a shocking lack of skill in pass protection.
- Grade: 6.8
- Ceiling: 7.0 (15%)
- Floor: 5.6 (10%)