*Our RB grades can and will change as more information comes in from Pro Day workouts, leaked Wonderlic test results, etc. We will update ratings as new info becomes available.

*We use the term “Power RB” to separate physically bigger, more between-the-tackles–capable RBs from our “speed RBs” group. “Speed RBs” are physically smaller, but much faster/quicker, and less likely to flourish between the tackles.

I am beginning our RB studies with a deeper dive on Najee Harris, for obvious reasons. I am not going to claim that he’s the best RB in the 2021 class yet…he might be…he might not (Etienne and Jav. Williams need to have their say/full study…as well as any other sleeper candidates lurking). I do know this from my first full, deeper study – Harris is a legit NFL RB and is very likely to go off as the first RB taken in the draft.

How legit? How good? Let’s explore…

Harris has everything the NFL wants in a running back…he’s nearly 6’2” and works at 230+ pounds. That’s a big boy right there. Combine that with a 40-time likely in the 4.5s, and a chance at a sub-7.0 three cone agility…and, at that size, that physical and athletic profile combination is something rare. Add to that his very long arms (33”+, 81.0” wingspan) with 10” hands in concert with terrific receiving abilities…and it gets even rarer. That size, that movement ability and that kind of receiving threat, big catch radius – what’s not to love?

Add to that…’he went to Alabama’, and you have the NFL’s Utopian running back prospect.

As far as my eyes, my scouting reality on him – what do you want me to say? He’s ‘big’, he has nice interior runner instincts (he can read holes and shift around), he has nice shiftiness/change of direction, he’s a load to tackle, and he catches anything thrown around him. I mean…no need for me to get into showing you tape from a certain game or trying to over-praise him. So many boxes are checked here with the ‘Alabama’ boost…he’s going to get a great opportunity in the NFL Day 1.

You’ve heard/read nothing but praise about Harris from analysts, writers, etc., and now from me. There are no dissenters. Case closed?

Not necessarily.

You don’t need me to tell you about all the good things everyone agrees with on Harris. But I do have three areas of some concern to discuss – things you might not be getting in the fawn-fest mainstream scouting of Harris. I am not saying any of these three things are even real or imminent – more that they are things to watch for, consider before you enshrine him into the NFL Hall of Fame.

Three ‘things’ to consider, negatively, on Harris…

1) I project, from his tape, that he runs a 40-time in the 4.5s…like 4.55, which is totally fine for his size. If he runs in the 4.4s, then ‘wow’. If he runs in the 4.5s…fine, expected. But what if he runs in the 4.6s?

Right at/around 4.60 is OK/fine for his size, but every couple fractions of a second slower from there raises more concern about just ‘how good’ a prospect Harris is.

Like, if he runs in the 4.4s…he might go top 10 overall in the NFL Draft, at his size.

If he runs 4.5s…then Top 20-25 overall pick most likely.

4.6s? Let’s pretend it’s a 4.65+…that would let some air out of his prospect bubble. He might fall to the 2nd-round and not be gifted immediate starter status/franchise back assumption.

My grade on him drops if I see 4.6s. Not to a failure type of grading, but to a “not our top RB prospect for 2021 then”. Jonathan Taylor ran a 4.39 40-time at 226 pounds last year and was a 2nd-round pick (inexplicably). If Harris runs a 4.6+…how can he go higher than Taylor? Harris probably would go higher, because ‘Alabama’…but all of us analytics scouts would pause/downgrade him off any ‘elite’ gradings if he goes 4.6s.

And looking at the tape…I don’t think it’s impossible that he tests as a 4.6+ runner. Harris is not a breakaway runner like Derrick Henry or Jonathan Taylor (as a couple of examples) on tape. He’s just big, shifty, savvy, confident, and successful. ‘Fast’ is not a description I would use by my eyeball scouting. ‘Fast enough’ would be my label on Harris’ speed.

2) Harris was successful, statistically, as a college runner -- but so is every top 5-10 RB prospect each year…especially the very top guys. Jonathan Taylor’s college numbers are mind-boggling…Javonte Williams’ and Travis Etienne’s 2020 seasons are pretty sweet too. Harris doesn’t have college production off the charts any more than the other top prospects do.

However, I imagine that running behind Alabama’s O-Line with an NFL prospect QB and a 1st-round pair of WRs opens things up for the running game more than they do at Wisconsin 2019 (J Taylor) or UNC (Javonte Williams). Harris had college output advantages other RB prospects did not.

Can we really gauge, as scouts, how good Harris was from his 2020 work…when his backdrop was so much more luxurious and advantageous? I have the same argument/worry about Mac Jones.

Not saying Najee is secretly bad…just noting, what we think we know about Harris is from a very distorted view from his playing with the amazing Alabama 2020 offense. Is he a ‘B’ who looks like an ‘A’ because of silver spoon surroundings?


3) Speaking of silver spoon…

Harris was the top RB in the nation coming out of high school. He went to Alabama and worked behind other great RBs, then got his turn and starred along with the entire Alabama ensemble 2019-2020…and is now considered, by most, the top RB in the NFL Draft. He’s been treated as the best RB in existence for a long time.

Does Harris have that edge to him, that NFL workhorse/grinder chip that drives him…or is he just naturally good, always praised, and when he runs into some resistance in the NFL… how will he handle that?

I read an article about Harris in high school, and a line in the piece went something like…’some consider Harris the best RB prospect in a generation…right up there with Leonard Fournette and Bryce Brown as highest graded high school RBs in recent history’. Which made me take note – Fournette and Brown never were as good as their high school (or college) billing.

Is Harris the next high school/college god RB prospect to fall short?

I mean, Leonard Fournette was supposed to be the supreme ‘big guy’ RB prospect for the NFL. So good they talked of him legally challenging to go pro early. He basically half-assed his way through his final college year because he was already thinking of the pros. Fournette was good, but never ‘wow’. Is Harris going to follow a similar path?

Talent-wise, what I see on tape, and in early measurables – you have to give Harris the early stamp of approval. He’s a well-spoken, likeable, solid character player. Everything is in place to be ‘elite’…except the one thing that’s very hard/impossible to measure or gauge – how badly does Harris ‘want it’?

Harris has had such a charmed college experience…it’s hard to judge that.

All scouting eyes now turn to his Combine/Pro Day workout times and data (should he participate in them).

Najee Harris, Through the Lens of Our RB Scouting Algorithm:

I cannot find any statistical/output evidence to doubt Harris. 5.8+ yards per carry the past two seasons, 6.0 ypc for his career. 60 combined TDs the past two seasons (26 games). 

I will note he is such a gifted receiver for his size…11 receiving TDs the past two seasons is stellar. 2.3 receptions, 28.1 receiving yards, 0.42 receiving TDs per game the past two seasons, at his size, as a workhorse RB in college – fantastic. His receiving numbers, for a big body back, are superb. Consider supreme big body back, Derrick Henry, for example – he can’t catch a football very well and is lucky to have a catch a game. While 230+ pound Najee Harris has WR-like gifts on swing and screen passes.

2021 Combine/Pro Day measurables estimates…

6.17”/230, 10.0” hands, 33.4” arms, 81.0 wingspan (official from the Senior Bowl)

4.55 +/- 40-time estimate, with a sub-7.0 three-cone, maybe around 6.90-6.95.

18 +/- bench reps, 36”+ vertical, 10’6”+ broad jump…possibly near 11’ broad. 

The Historical RB Prospects to Whom Najee Harris Most Compares Within Our System:

Harris reminds me a lot of Steven Jackson…a slower, but still very good copy of Steven Jackson…former Rams RB who never got the full due of how good he was in the NFL. It’s a good call by the computer models for a comp.

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Speed Metric

Agility Metric

Power Metric



















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Cstl Carolina








*A score of 8.50+ is where we see a stronger correlation of RBs going on to become NFL good/great/elite. A score of 10.00+ is more rarefied air in our system and indicates a greater probability of becoming an elite NFL RB.

All of the RB ratings are based on a 0-10 scale, but a player can score negative, or above a 10.0 in certain instances.

Overall rating/score = A combination of several on-field performance measures, including refinement for strength of opponents faced, mixed with all the physical measurement metrics—then compared/rated historically within our database and formulas. More of a traditional three-down search—runner, blocker, and receiver.

*RB-Re score = New/testing starting in 2015. Our new formula/rating that attempts to identify and quantify a prospect’s receiving skills even deeper than in our original formulas. RB prospects can now make it/thrive in the NFL strictly based on their receiving skills—it is an individual attribute sought out for the NFL, and no longer dismissed or overlooked. Our rating combines a study of their receiving numbers in college in relation to their offense and opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with hand-size measurables, etc.

*RB-Ru score = New/testing starting in 2015. Our new formula/rating that attempts to classify and quantify a RB prospect’s ability strictly as a runner of the ball. Our rating combines a study of their rushing numbers in college in relation to their offense and strength of opponents, as well as profiling size-speed-agility along with various size measurables, etc.

Raw Speed Metric = A combination of several speed and size measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

Agility Metric = A combination of several speed and agility measurements from the NFL Combine, judged along with physical size profile, and then compared/rated historically within our database and scouting formulas. This is a rating strictly for RBs of a similar/bigger size profile.

2021 NFL Draft Outlook: 

Harris is very likely going in the 1st-round…the question is = ‘how high’? The answer depends upon his 40-time and three-cone at his Combine/Pro Day…if he even runs them. If I were his agent, I would not have him run. There’s no advantage to running them for him. He’s already fully priced for the NFL at a Utopian level. But if he does run…that 40-time changes how high he goes. In the 4.4s could mean a top 10 draft pick. 4.6s…could get him dropped to the 2nd-round, and not the first RB taken. 

If I were an NFL GM, unless Harris ran a special 40-time or three-cone…I cannot justify, in today’s NFL, taking a running back in the 1st-round – unless it was later 1st-round, and I desperately needed an RB for a current year title run. Harris, to me, so far, is not a top 10-15 worthy type of franchise back. I’d love to have him, but the RB position isn’t that critical in the NFL. 

NFL Outlook:   

Likely a top 30 draft pick and instantly installed as a starter for his new team and he should do fine. He will probably have an Ezekiel Elliott career – will be as productive/great as his O-Line is, and just ‘good’ if he has a weak O-Line. He could have a Leonard Fournette career…full of hope and daydreams year one…and then a salary cap cut year four because no one cares anymore. 

Likely, Harris gets plenty of opportunity and seems to have a better head on his shoulders than Fournette. But we’ll see…