Damien Harris 2019 NFL Draft Profile

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Damien Harris
SANTA CLARA, CA - JANUARY 07: Damien Harris #34 of the Alabama Crimson Tide dives for the end zone against the Clemson Tigers in the CFP National Championship presented by AT&T at Levi's Stadium on January 7, 2019 in Santa Clara, California. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Overview
Position: Running back
Height: 5’10”
Weight: 214 pounds
School: Alabama Crimson Tide

Combine Performance Data
40-yard dash: 4.57 seconds
Bench press: 16 reps
Vertical jump: 37 inches (third-best among running backs)
Broad jump: 10 feet, 1 inch

Damien Harris 2019 NFL Draft Profile

The Alabama Crimson Tide had one of the best running back duos in all of college football, and now both players are declaring for the 2019 NFL Draft. While Josh Jacobs is the bigger name heading into the draft, Damien Harris actually outperformed him during the 2018 season. Splitting carries with Jacobs, Harris finished his season with 150 carries for 876 yards and nine touchdowns. Additionally, Harris showed an ability to contribute out of the backfield with 22 receptions for 204 yards.

Harris was a star ever since his high school days. Throughout his four years at Madison Southern High School, the big-bodied back recorded an absurd 6,748 yards and 122 combined touchdowns (no, that’s not a typo). His fantastic time in high school made him a five-star recruit, and he eventually ended up landing with the Alabama Crimson Tide.

Harris backed up Derrick Henry as a freshman but earned the starting job in each of the next three seasons. During his collegiate career, Harris recorded a combined 477 rushing attempts for 3,070 rushing yards and 23 touchdowns to go along with 52 receptions for 407 yards and two touchdowns. Basically, he was exactly as advertised and should be one of the first running backs off the board.

Strengths

  • Tough, physical runner capable of picking up hard-to-get yards;
  • Reads rushing lanes well and can follow the open block;
  • Falls forward at the point of contact;
  • An efficient runner who doesn’t hesitate to attack a gap;
  • Excels at finding cutback lanes if initial block isn’t available.

Weaknesses

  • Never been the workhorse back, so durability could be a question;
  • Lack of explosion and speed limits his lateral running ability;
  • Like most draft prospects, need time to develop in pass protection;
  • Doesn’t bring anything special to the passing game;
  • Lack of open field speed limits big-play explosive ability.

NFL Comparison: Derrick Henry, C.J. Anderson

Teams With Need at Position: Buffalo BillsPhiladelphia Eagles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins

Projection: Round two

Bottom Line

Damien Harris certainly has a future in the NFL. The Alabama product was one of the best backs in college football thanks to his great vision and no-nonsense running style. He excels in short-yardage work and falls forward when hit, which gives him a safe floor as a short-yardage bruiser.

However, Harris’ skill set conflicts with the direction most teams are heading in. Dual-threat runners like Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey are all the rage, and Harris doesn’t have the elusiveness, pass-catching ability, or open-field speed to match their skill set. If he were draft eligible in 1995, he’d probably be a first rounder.

That said, there’s still an NFL market for a player like Harris. Goal-line and short-yardage running is some of the most important in the league, and Harris is a master at converting those opportunities. His great vision should allow him to thrive in any blocking scheme and his ability to cut back and improvise only helps his value. He probably won’t ever be a bell cow running back, but Harris can easily be a contributing member to a running back rotation.

Main photo:
Embed from Getty Images

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