Najee Harris is big, powerful and athletic running back who made his presence felt on the gridiron for the University of Alabama. A product of Antioch, CA, Harris saw playing time all four years in his collegiate career and started the final two years in his career in Alabama. During that time, Harris accumulated 4,624 all-purpose yards (3,843 yards rushing), 57 TDs (46 rushing) and averaged 6.0 yards per carry rushing. Harris also won the Doak Walker award, which is awarded to the nation’s top running back. Although Harris has the build of a bruising back, there are quite a few facets to his game that make him a well-rounded feature back at the next level.
Here’s my evaluation of Najee Harris and why the Falcons could possibly have him on their radar if he makes it to the second round or they move down.
Player Height/Weight: 6’2” – 230 lbs
Games Watched: vs. Georgia (2020), vs. Florida (2020), Vs. Auburn (2020)
- NFL size with high level speed and athleticism.
- Excellent vision out of the backfield.
- Very decisive on the field.
- True 3 down running back with a well-rounded game, allowing him to fit any scheme
- Quick and nimble feet for a back of his stature.
- A proven passing threat out of the backfield, and has improved his route running as a pass catcher.
- Has an amazing ability to stop and cut in the open field.
- Great acceleration when he sees a gap, with little wasted motion.
- Knows how to run behind his pads.
- Looks for contact and finishes falling forward.
- Exhibits patience when waiting on blocks to develop in front of him.
- Has amazing balance after contact.
- Durable and dependable in his career thus far.
- Willing blocker in the passing game.
- Team player with high character.
- Can work on patience a bit more running between the tackles.
- Takes quite a few hits, which could affect his longevity in the NFL.
- Will need to work more on pass blocking technique and improve blitz pick up.
It’s really difficult not to like Najee Harris as a feature back in the NFL. Although he has the appearance of a big, physical back, he is truly a versatile player with a well-balanced skill set who could thrive in multiple offensive schemes, including Atlanta’s. His willingness to block and eagerness to improve, coupled with his ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, will make him a nice fit just about anywhere.
Where most backs are check down options in the passing game, any team would be wise to create passing plays with Harris as the primary read to showcase his route running skills and crisp footwork in the open field. Coach Arthur Smith loves backs that are not only powerful runners, but can contribute in the passing game.
Could the Falcons pick up a back like Harris in the 2021 NFL Draft? It’s possible, but it would have to occur if the Falcons opt to trade down to acquire him, as he’s likely to go in the mid-to-late first round. I wouldn’t rule that out entirely, but more than likely Harris will make another team happy.