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Najee Harris NFL Draft scouting report and fantasy football profile

The 2021 NFL Draft will feature a host of offensive skill position talent. We break down Najee Harris with a scouting report and fantasy football projection.

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris celebrates during the third quarter against the Ohio State Buckeyes in the 2021 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.  Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to running back in the 2021 NFL Draft, it’s Najee Harris and Travis Etienne battling it out at the top of any running back needy team’s draft board. Javonte Williams could move up as well, but Harris and Etienne are going to be at the top of the running back lists across the league.

Harris has been a top prospect his whole football career to date. Going to Alabama had its obstacles though, as the running backs ahead of him were numerous and great. He wasn’t able to take over the lead role until his junior year and split time his sophomore season with two soon to be starting NFL running backs, Damien Harris and Josh Jacobs.

Scouting Report

Harris is a rare talent in that he is big and bruising while also a strong receiver. The dream comparison is Derrick Henry, but also an excellent receiver. The knock on Harris is that he isn’t special in the open field. But that is about the only knock. His balance, short area quickness and instinct to find creases are all excellent. He may not give you Barry Sanders’ vibes in the open field, but defenders will still need to bring his 6’1”, 230 lb. frame down after he gets a head full of steam.

In the end, it’s his versatility as a receiver will give him a great shot at being a first round pick.

What are scouts saying?

Outstanding three-down running back with a complete game. Athletic, instinctive, and plays hard on every down. Possesses outstanding vision, instincts, and overall awareness. Runs with outstanding balance as well as body control. Powerful and has defenders bouncing off him as he picks up yardage off initial contact. Runs through tackles, carries defenders for yards at a clip, and does not go down without a fight. — Pro Football Network’s Tony Pauline

Mock Draft landing spots

Like Etienne, Harris should be high on the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Jets and Miami Dolphins draft boards. ESPN’s Todd McShay has Harris going to the Steelers with their 24th pick in the first round, but the consensus at the moment has the Dolphins grabbing him with their 18th pick.

Fantasy impact: Rookie year

Harris has all the skills to be a three-down back to start his rookie year and he will likely be taken by a team ready to hand over the job. Unless a wildcard team with some talent at the running back position takes him, he will be rightfully drafted as a top fantasy back in 2021.

Fantasy impact: Career

Harris’ longevity will depend on his health, as it has with most starting running backs in this league. His bruising style could shorten his time, but his three-down ability should put his value high enough that any long-term health risks aren’t enough to scare you away from him in dynasty.