Najee Harris
Najee Harris is NOT a first round running back. It’s virtually impossible to justify taking the Alabama running back that high. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports)

Najee Harris Is NOT A First Round Running Back

The anti-running back army is running the streets rampant. Especially considering every team that ends up winning the Super Bowl usually ends up paying their backs pennies. I’m not as off the deep end as those people. However, with draft season approaching quickly, one thing needs to be made clear. Najee Harris is NOT a first round running back.

Using Travis Etienne as the example is just disrespectful and laughable. I’m not sure Etienne belongs in the second round. Harris is clearly the most talented running back in the 2021 NFL Draft. The point of reference is trying to decipher if Harris is good enough for that round one demarcation.

Very few running backs are worthy of round one picks. Even the ones that are can be found in the 2nd round such as Dalvin Cook and Nick Chubb. Often times running backs taken in the first round have been wild reaches. That includes the successful ones like Saquon Barkley.

If I take a running back in the first round, he has to be more than an in the tackle runner. I’ve always defended the Ezekiel Elliott pick because he could catch and is the best pass blocker in the league. Elliott just slowed down a year ago because of the number of carries that has started to pile up.

The fact of the matter is, while Najee is a great player, he’s not close to as dynamic as someone like Christian McCaffrey or Chris Johnson. To be a first round running back, you need to possess an elite skill. With McCaffrey, it’s the pass catching and short area quickness with unique knee bend. With Chris Johnson it was the game breaking speed that you just can’t replicate.

What’s the dynamic skill set when it comes to Najee Harris? We hope that we get pass catching Derrick Henry but less powerful? Sorry, not sold on that being worth a first round pick. You have to give me better than typical Alabama running back.

This is no shot on Harris. He’s proven himself to be a terrific player. He’s just not a round one player. If someone like JK Dobbins can go in the 50-60 overall range, you can’t justify taking Harris in the 20’s. That’s coming from someone that loves Harris. It’s just not great value any way you slice it.

Harris has a lot of things going for him. The Alabama running back has great size and a special ability to hurdle defenders. I think the 40 time should be better than most think. It’s still hard to get behind him as a round one back.

It’s not a deep running back class. You’re still better off taking a shot on someone like Michael Carter or Javonte Williams in the third round. Unless you believe Harris is a Hall of Fame back, he doesn’t belong in round 1.