2020 Raiders Draft Prospect Profile
Name: Najee Harris
Position: Running Back
School: The University of Alabama
Weight: 230 pounds
When describing Harris’ approach, the term patient violence applies. Using his off hand to guide him, Harris picks his way through traffic, legs churning and slipping through small cracks of daylight.When a defender squares up, Harris lowers his shoulder, prepares the aforementioned hands and attempts to steamroll the tackler. While he can exercise patience, Harris loves running to contact. With a stiff arm that resembles a quick jab, Harris generates separation with brute force.
Although he may not possess home run speed, Harris will gobble up chunk yardage in a hurry. With his long frame, he gets to full explosion rapidly. As mentioned, he won’t blur by defenders. Yet, the value of this trait, combined with his power and pad level will see him run through tackles, pick up first down and score in the red zone.
Entering 2019, Harris caught only ten passes. Many believed this limitation would hurt his draft stock. Meanwhile, Harris worked on his technique and timing. In 2019, he snagged 27 passes and 7 touchdowns through the air. His film backed it up. By running wheel routes and showing open-space shiftiness, Harris gave draft analysts added value with improvement.
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Behind Josh Jacobs, the Raiders appear rather redundant. Both Jalen Richard and DeAndre Washington appear to be too similar. Neither allow Gruden to continue pounding defenses with an unrelenting style. If you look at the stats, Richard should be the odd man out. Washington tallied more yards after contact and broken tackles. In addition, Washington shows a higher catch percentage and fewer drops. If Richard’s sole role is as a third-down back, Washington is outperforming him. Plus, Richard can’t find the endzone.
Immediately, Harris becomes the second best back on the team. Additionally, he gives the Raiders starting quality carries in backup reps. That is to say, the team doesn’t need to deviate from the plan when he’s in the game. Harris provides a similar downhill approach to the line. As a result, the playbook remains wide open. More importantly, if you look at the number of Harris’ carry potential, a smile should beam across Jon Gruden’s face. Gruden wants to pound the ball and use that massive offensive line to wear opponents down. In his eyes, 30-plus carries would signify a success. That being said, giving Harris 7-10 carries allows for so much offensive freedom. If you give Jacobs four or five carries a quarter, Harris would grab two totes per quarter, the team will win. In the passing game, Harris also bolsters his worth as a third-down back, if needed.
Mike Mayock loves Alabama and Clemson players. Ferrell, Renfrow, Mullen, and Jacobs heard the Raiders call their respective names. There is something that intrigues him about big program talent. Harris could easily slide off the board in the third round, where the Raiders currently own three picks. With exactly 400 touches before his presumed last bowl game, Harris gives Josh Jacobs a familiar backup and the Raiders a low-usage talent that will provide matchup issues.