RB Najee Harris, Alabama

RB Najee Harris, Alabama (6’2”, 230)

Background:

Touched the ball 67 times as a freshman (61 on the ground), totaling 415 yards and three touchdowns. Saw his role expand the following year, finishing with a line of 117-783-4 (6.7) rushing and adding four receptions. Became the team’s priamry ballcarrier as a junior, breaking out to the tune of 209-1,224-13 (5.9), with another 27-304-7 receiving. Put together a monster senior season to finish his career, rushing for 251-1,466-26 (5.8) and catching 43-425-4 (9.9).

Positives:

Was probably college football’s most dominant running back this past season and has three productive years under his belt. Very big, well-built back with a thick lower body; looks the part of a feature back. Overall feel for the game is very good; vision and decision-making are both strengths, doing a good job of recognizing cutback opportunities. Able to shuffle and find lanes or bounce runs outside when the blocking isn’t there; very rarely gets caught in the backfield for a loss, even on snaps where the blocking is poor, making penetrators miss. Was able to outrun defenders to the edge when running off-tackle or carrying the ball on sweeps; speed and explosiveness are both solid. Has a nice repertoire of jump-cuts and stutter-steps to keep defenders off-balance. Punishing player who gets behind his pads and exacts a price from defenders who attempt to tackle him. Picks up a lot of yards after contact, doing a good job of fighting for more and consistently falling forward at the end of runs. Works in a nice stiff-arm. Has pretty reliable hands as a receiver, often being sent out on swing patterns or making delayed releases into the backfield.

Negatives:

Played behind an offensive line which cleared some big holes for him to run through. Was asked to carry a big load in each of the past two seasons. Might be a little bit taller than some teams like. More likely to gain yardage after contact than to run over defenders outright. Blocking leaves something to be desired; needs to improve balance, stay upright more consistently through contact, and get extension with his arms, often ducks his head and throwing his body at opponents instead of engaging with his arms from his seat.

Summary:

Checks pretty much all of the boxes as a running back, offering excellent size and bulk, plus vision and feel, the ability to shuffle into lanes when running between the tackles and to get upfield when executing one-cut assignments, a powerful style to punish defenders, and soft hands in the receiving game. Will need to improve his blocking, but stands a pretty solid chance of coming off the board in the first round.

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