2021 NFL Draft: Scouting the bulldozer Najee Harris

Najee Harris, 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Najee Harris, 2021 NFL Draft (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

Najee Harris returns for the Alabama Crimson Tide, and hopes to become their third Heisman Trophy winner

Najee Harris had a tough first two years at Alabama. First, he was last on the pecking order in a backfield that included Damien Harris and Bo Scarbrough. The following year he had to split carries with a first-round pick in Josh Jacobs.

Finally, in his junior year, Harris was the lone star in the backfield. As the workhorse, Harris went on to rush for 1,224 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Crimson Tide. Even though Harris could have left school for the NFL, he decided to pull his name from the draft and return. His new goal is to be the first running back taken off the draft board in the 2021 NFL Draft.

Watching Harris play is like getting front row seats to a demolition site. He is the big, bad wrecking ball that will inevitably destroy the building (or in this case opposing teams defenses).

At 6’2″, 230 pounds, Harris is already a force to be reckoned with. Not only does he have the power to run through defenders, but he also has the balance to stay on his feet. Last season in a tough SEC conference, Harris forced the most missed tackles with 59. This ranks him at the top among returning SEC running backs.

For someone who dishes out punishment as often as Harris, it is even more surprising that karma has not returned the favor, yet. So far in his collegiate career, Harris has never fumbled in any of his 424 attempts.

His power is especially important inside the red zone. Power runs inside the red zone is Harris’s bread and butter. On runs inside the 5-yard line, Harris was able to score on 50% of his attempts. This put him just inside the top 5 for all power five running backs.

Many analysts have made a narrative to make Harris seem like just a power back. However, Harris is more than that. He also has elite agility for someone of his size. He can spin, and juke just enough to make someone miss. He also can jump over people. He proved that on a run against Auburn.

Harris also has terrific hands for a running back and could be used as a weapon in the passing game. On multiple occasions, he has come down with big receptions for the Crimson Tide. He not only helps as a receiver in the passing game but also understands his pass protection duties. He uses his strength to keep defenders from continuing their pursuit of the QB.

The one knock on Harris has to be his workload. Harris has had 387 carries in his career. That is a lot for a soon-to-be senior. That is already more than backfield mate Josh Jacobs’ 251 attempts in his three-year Alabama career. Not to mention that Harris will be a focal point to an offense that has had many playmakers leave for the NFL.

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Hopefully, the SEC doesn’t follow the Big Ten and Pac-12’s route and decides to cancel the season. It would be a shame if fans don’t get to see Harris’ final year in college because it could be a very dominant one.