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Rookie Snapshot 2021: Najee Harris fantasy football profile

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Najee Harris, RB, Alabama Crimson Tide

Size: 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds

Age: 23-years-old (3/9/1998)

Background

Raised by his mother, Tianna Hicks, Najee was the youngest of five kids. His surroundings were far from ideal growing up in the East Bay. Navigating homelessness and the tumult of an abusive father, Harris persevered, focusing his power on the football field. After putting together a record-breaking career at Antioch High, he entered the college ranks as a consensus-five star recruit. Drawing offers from upwards of 50 FBS schools, the NorCal native set his sites on the SEC and Alabama.

A four-year contributor for the Crimson Tide, Harris shared the backfield with Bo Scarbrough, Damien Harris, and Josh Jacobs from 2017-2018. By his junior year, however, Najee stood atop Alabama’s depth chart. He closed out his 2019 effort touching the ball 236 times for 1,528 scrimmage yards and 20 total scores.

Choosing to eschew the 2020 NFL Draft and return to Tuscaloosa for his senior year, Harris continued to crush and, impressively, bested his numbers from the previous year. Not only did he help Alabama win a third national championship (in the CFP era) but he closed out his college experience as the Crimson Tide’s all-time leading rusher (3,843 yards) ahead of other distinguished alumni such as Derrick Henry and Mark Ingram.

Pros: Tackle-breaking strength, outstanding catch radius, plus vision

RB Snapshots: Harris | Williams | Etienne | Carter | Sermon

Cons: Lacks high-end breakaway speed; ran behind an elite offensive line

The Big Picture

A formidable blend of size and power, Harris demonstrated his workhorse ability by consistently producing throughout his career. Impressively agile given his stature, the 23-year-old’s athleticism is evident not only via an arsenal of spin moves and hurdles but also shows up in his ability as a receiver.

A skill that evolved over his time in Tuscaloosa, Harris converted 43 of 53 targets his senior year, in large part due to his notable catch radius.

He doesn’t have high-end speed and his pad level is a touch high, but his overall physical profile in combination with plus vision and striking patience make him one of the most complete backs in this year’s draft class. Harris projects to be an every-down option at the next level and figures to make an immediate fantasy impact.

NFL Comp: Matt Forte

Fantasy Fit

The Dolphins aren’t afraid to utilize a single-RB backfield, as evidenced by the numbers that Myles Gaskins (and, when Gaskin was banged up, Salvon Ahmed) posted in 2020. I think it’s likely, though, that the Phins upgrade the position in 2021. While an ankle issue prevented Harris from playing in the Senior Bowl a few months ago, he was able to spend a solid amount of time with Coach Flores. In a year without a Combine and given the numerous restrictions surrounding travel, one-on-one exposure like that is all the more important.

While being interviewed by Yahoo Sports Draft Expert Eric Edholm, Tua Tagovailoa — sans prompting or prodding — said he hoped to end up on the “same team” as Harris.

For what it’s worth, Tua didn’t say that about any of his other former teammates.

Whether Harris lands in Miami or another RB-needy squad, he figures to step into a starting role rather immediately. Plenty of questions remain, but right now, it’s hard to imagine him not being at least a third-round FF selection heading into this fall.

Engage with Liz on social @LizLoza_FF

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