Alabama Crimson Tide’s junior running back Najee Harris has always been a highly thought of talent. However, after being buried on the depth chart behind multiple high-round draft picks over his first two years in Tuscaloosa, he was always more of a projection than a high-end draft prospect. Yet, after a brilliant breakout 2019 campaign where we saw Harris take his game to new heights, the former top high school recruit has officially worked himself into being a legitimate top 50-draft prospect on the majority of draft boards.
Najee Harris’ Latest Mocks & Draft Projections
Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller is fairly high on Najee Harris, placing him within the top 32 overall players on his most recent 2020 NFL Draft Big Board. Harris is the 30th overall player on Miller’s board, and the fourth-best running back prospect in the 2020 NFL Draft according to Miller.
WalterFootball places Harris at the top of the second-round of their most recent 2020 NFL Mock Draft. Harris comes off the board 35th overall to the running back needy Detroit Lions. Revisiting Miller’s placement of Harris on his personal Big Board, Detroit would be getting adequate value for the Bama product at this point in the draft. Here’s what WalterFootball had to say behind their reasoning for the selection.
Kerryon Johnson hasn’t been able to stay healthy, so I wonder if the Lions would be willing to spend a second-day pick on a running back to complement him.
Najee Harris was one of the top recruits in the country in 2017, and he showed off his talents as a freshman. He’s been tremendous again this season.
USA Today’s Draft Wire has Harris taking a bit of a deeper slide down the boards in their most recent mock. With that said, he still comes off the board in the second round, 76th overall to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Harris would add much-needed talent to the league’s ninth-worst rush offense from 2019.
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Najee Harris NFL Draft Profile
Pros: The former Mr. Football in the state of California, Harris’ skillset and upside jumps off the screen. The running back offers tremendous size for the position, standing at 6’2” and weighing in at 230 pounds. After two seasons of sporadic snaps playing behind Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs, Harris took on a heftier workload in his Junior season and showed himself as more than capable of being a featured back, flexing an expanded skillset. Harris hauled in 27 receptions in 2019 for seven receiving touchdowns, demonstrating soft hands and route-running ability previously unknown before this year. He’s also extremely trustworthy, suffering just one fumble over his Alabama career.
Cons: Harris tends to run high, which is not surprising due to his stature. While 2019 was Harris’s largest workload in college, he still touted the rock just 185 times this season. In comparison, Wisconsin’s Jonathan Taylor rushed the ball 114 more times than Harris this year. Harris doesn’t offer the same juice and twitch as some of the other top backs in the class and is much more of a strider who needs time to pick up speed.
Draft Projection: Late 1st Round-Mid 2nd Round
Harris took his game to new heights in 2019. While I won’t say he will be the next Le’Veon Bell, his jump in the receiving aspect of the game has scouts believing that he can serve as a three-down back. His light workload over his time in college is a major plus, and may even cause him to jump some other more well-weathered backs, as they’ll believe he offers more longevity and upside. Harris is a specimen, with the skill and production to go along with it. The Bama running back has a great chance of being one of the top-two players at his position off the board come late April.