Here’s the 2019 NFL Draft profile of running back Damien Harris out of Alabama breaking down his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights, and New York Jets draft prediction.
A five-star recruit out of Madison Southern High School in Berea, Kentucky, Damien Harris, who was named a USA Today High School All-American in 2014, played his collegiate ball at the University of Alabama and has emerged as one of the top running back prospects entering the 2019 NFL Draft.
Backing up Derrick Henry for the Crimson Tide as a true freshman in 2015, Harris saw limited action only receiving 46 carries and totaling 157 yards and one touchdown.
The 22-year-old then became Alabama’s starter in 2016, however, and handled the bulk of the team’s carries, totaling 1,040 yards and two touchdowns on 145 attempts. 2017 also proved to be a successful year for Harris as he totaled 1,000 yards and 11 touchdowns on 135 attempts.
Then in his senior season, he totaled 876 yards and nine touchdowns on 150 attempts. It’s also important to note that Harris was a three-time SEC Champion and a two-time College Football Playoff Champion in addition to being a Second-Team All-SEC selection in 2018.
Let’s take a look at his strengths, weaknesses, video highlights and if he might be a good fit with the New York Jets.
Standing 5 -foot-10 and weighing in at about 216 lbs., Harris is known as a physical and compact runner with solid power and the ability to grind out yards.
He’s extremely effective in short-yardage situations due to the power possessed in his legs and he has excellent balance to boot. At the same time, Harris is also an incredibly smart player as he rarely makes the wrong decision when carrying the ball. Instead, he has solid vision and immediately finds space and gets vertical rather than looking to do too much.
In addition to his value in short-yardage situations, Harris is also effective as a goal-line back due to his aggressiveness and ability to keep the ball moving. He’s also difficult to take down and is terrific in protecting the ball.
In terms of receiving, Harris actually had his best pass-catching season in his final year at Alabama, though he was rarely used in that role. Many feel as if he’s at his best when used on swing and screen routes due to his short-yardage success.
Despite his power and strong short-yardage skill set, many feel as if Harris is lacking in explosiveness and downfield speed.
In addition, his burst is a bit questionable and he isn’t the most elusive or dynamic back which limits him a bit in open space and could potentially limit his ceiling at the next level. Due to this and the fact that he isn’t the most dynamic athlete, Harris prefers to initiate contact with opponents rather than using explosive traits to avoid them, which doesn’t always benefit him.
In addition, Harris wasn’t used too often as a receiver at Alabama and his pass blocking can certainly be improved upon in the coming months and years.
NEW YORK JETS PREDICTION
In terms of his draft stock, many scouts feel as if Harris’ lack of elite athleticism, elusiveness and downfield speed could limit his potential as a top back in the NFL.
However, he’s also seen by many as a disciplined and tough runner who’s able to grind out yards and be impactful in goal-line situations, which could make him valuable to any team.
In regards to the New York Jets, the green and white may be in the market for a running back with veteran Bilal Powell unlikely to return and Isaiah Crowell underperforming last season. With that being said, however, the team may look to target Le’Veon Bell in free agency and if he were to be signed, the Jets would not need to address running back in the draft.
If the team doesn’t come to terms on a deal with Bell, however, they could look to add depth to the backfield in the draft. Though they may look to add someone a bit more versatile than Harris to complement Crowell, it could be wise to take a closer look at the Alabama product should he be available in the third round.