Rookie Rundown: RB Damien Harris, Alabama

Rookie Rundown: RB Damien Harris, Alabama

NFL Draft

Rookie Rundown: RB Damien Harris, Alabama

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Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Damien Harris was the busier half of the one-two punch for Alabama along with Josh Jacobs. He was the primary backup for Derrick Henry as a freshman and was the leading rusher for Alabama over the last three seasons during their string of National Championship games. He was rated by Rivals.com as a five-star recruit and the top running back in the country when he committed to the Crimson Tide.

Harris rushed for nine games over 100 yards but his weekly workload would vary significantly as have all Crimson Tide backs not named Derrick Henry. His role as a receiver limited him to mostly one-catch games.

Height: 5-10
Weight: 216 pounds
40 time: 4.57 seconds

He never rushed more than 150 times in any season including the fact that he participated in extra playoff games every year since Alabama always advanced to the National Championship. His role, not unlike so many other players from Alabama, is harder to truly analyze since he was surrounded by so many outstanding players and especially blockers.

Year Games Runs Yards Avg. TD Catch Yards. TD Total Yards Total TDs
2015 10 46 157 3.4 1 4 13 0 170 1
2016 15 146 1037 7.1 2 14 99 2 1136 4
2017 14 135 1000 7.4 11 12 91 0 1091 11
2018 15 150 876 5.8 9 22 204 0 1080 9

Pros

  • Runs with great balance
  • Powerful vertical rushing style
  • Hard to bring down with a single tackler
  • Banger between the offensive tackles
  • Good vision follows his blocking
  • Punishing short-yardage rusher

Cons

  • Lacks elusiveness, sharp cuts
  • Not explosive
  • Limited experience as a receiver or in pass pro
  • Speed average at best

Fantasy outlook

Harris was a top recruit out of high school and landed on an elite college team for all four years.  He wasn’t nearly as dominating as Derrick Henry though he played the same between-the-tackles role. He was an effective and consistent rusher but is expected to play a complementary role in the NFL as a short-yardage back that mixes in as a rusher for first and second down.

He is not a dynamic running back which is why teammate Josh Jacobs is the hotter property in the draft. But he is a very disciplined power back that will find a role on an NFL team. He can move the sticks and could be a surprise if he lands with another team that features a premier offensive line.

This is not a great draft for running backs and the position is not expected to be raided until the second round if then. Harris projects as an early third round pick heading into the draft. His fantasy value depends upon where he lands and if they have an immediate need for a power back to pair with a more dangerous back that has receiving skills. He has the potential to become an immediate goal-line back for the right team.

He was linked to the Cowboys who are looking for a backup for Ezekiel Elliott. They have the offensive line to benefit Harris but not the opportunities barring an injury to Elliott. Harris would likely be best served if he ended up with the Saints who moved on from Mark Ingram. A fellow Alabama alum, Ingram’s running style is similar to Harris and the Saints already have Alvin Kamara for all receiving and outside-the-tackles work.

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