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Dynasty: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama

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Seriosuly looking forward to tonight.

I had him sitting at 4/5 in my rankings (depending on the day), but have a feeling he may move himself up in the next game (or 2)

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2018 Rookie Class: An Early Look at Damien Harris

 

In a rematch of the 2016 National Championship, Alabama and Clemson will face off once again on New Year’s day. This time a berth to the championship game is on the line. As the two storied programs continue to churn out high caliber prospects, one name that has flown under the radar is Alabama running back, Damien Harris.

In line to follow the steps of some of the best NFL running backs to come out of Alabama, Harris has not received the recognition he deserves this year. However, rest assured he has put in a tremendous amount of work this season and will prove it nationally against Clemson.

Assuming Harris does forgo his senior year and enter into the NFL Draft, from a numbers standpoint he should be one of the freshest backs out of college. He had just over 300 carries in his three years at Alabama, compare to 450 for LSU’s Derrius Guice and 404 for Stanford’s Bryce Love. This is partially due to the running back committee Alabama has used this season, but nonetheless, it is a statistic worth noting when we look at the longevity of backs in the NFL.

EARLY COLLEGE CAREER

As the number one recruit coming out of the state of Kentucky in 2015 and the second-ranked back in the nation, Damien Harris was widely sought after by nearly every school in the Power 5 conferences. In early January, the 5’11” 205 pound tailback committed to Alabama. It was a seemingly perfect match for a bruising back at his size.

At Nike’s The Opening, Harris tested out at a Sparq rating of 126.93, running a 4.48, 40-Yard dash with a 37.9 vertical jump. For his size coming out of high school, these numbers were pretty staggering. For comparison, Bryce Love scored just higher with a rating of 129.75, while Saquon Barkley scored a surprising 116.79.

As a sophomore at Alabama, both Harris and fellow 2015 commit Bo Scarbrough shared the workload of a run-heavy Alabama offense. Harris rushed for 1040 yards on just 145 carries (7.2 YPC) but to the surprise of many, the powerful back was only able to find the end zone twice all season long. As the season progressed, Scarbrough seemed to steal the show, rushing for 11 touchdowns at the same clip.

Scouts watched as Harris would often burst through a hole into the secondary, only to be caught from behind by trailing linebackers and defensive backs. The impressive 4.48 speed that he had brought with him to Alabama was seemingly non-existent and many began to write him off as the feature back for the Tide as the season came to an end.

STRONG JUNIOR CAMPAIGN

Over the summer leading up to this season, Harris saw the writing on the wall. He had gained too much weight since his arrival at college, costing him much of the top speed and explosiveness he was recruited for. In danger of losing carries and ultimately his shot of being a top back in the country, Harris shed about ten pounds this summer. He gave up up sugary snacks and decided to get right with the weight room.

His hard work has certainly paid off this season, as Harris has found favor once again with NFL scouts who many are now placing above his counterpart, Scarbrough. This season, Harris has rushed for 906 yards, 11 touchdowns on only 110 carries (8.2 yards per). Three of his rushing touchdowns in 2017 have been on rushes of 60 yards or more. By comparison in 2016, he had no touchdowns longer than 25 yards.

Harris has the opportunity over the next week to really heighten his draft stock before the eyes of a national audience. A stiff Clemson run defense will be ready for the test on Monday, but a new-look Harris will look to redeem the Tide from a matchup a year ago. In the 2016 matchup, Harris only carried the ball five times for 24 yards.

ATHLETIC PROWESS

Harris breaks away from the mold of mammoth-sized backs that Alabama has produced over the last several years. However he fits seamlessly into the “feature back” frame NFL scouts are looking for. At 5’11” and now 221 pounds after dropping weight during the off-season, Harris is back in proper shape and ready to take on the workload of an every down back at the next level. Physically, he looks like the next Mark Ingram.

While he may not make many jaw-dropping plays, you can expect Harris to do all the things that NFL teams are looking for. His low center of gravity and jump-cut ability allows Harris to navigate in the trenches with the ability to quickly fit through holes and break into the secondary. A majority of his long runs come from breaking tackles – he is averaging nearly an additional 5.3 yards after contact.

DRAFT PROJECTION

The NFL combine will give Harris an excellent opportunity to display the raw power that he possesses. He’ll also have a chance to show areas he has improved in such as pass blocking and catching. Both of those areas have already been pointed out as weaknesses in his game, and as he prepares for the draft, scouts will want to see his potential to grow in those traits.

Because he is an NFL-ready running back, as many of the Alabama prospects are, expect to see Harris get a chance early in the preseason with some carries and potentially earn a starting job at some point in the 2018 season. While you most likely will not see him playing on third downs for a few years, NFL teams are going to love the workhorse mentality that he has to grind out every yard possible.

Harris could end up being the sixth running back selected in the draft, or in my opinion could jump up to the fourth back taken depending on how the combine and College Football Playoff ends up. Either way, he is a late second to early third round draft pick this season. For your dynasty squads, you will want to grab Harris early while you still can and watch him develop on the field.

FINAL THOUGHTS

While Harris may take a few years to develop in PPR format leagues, expect him to be an effective runner early on as a rookie. Given the opportunity, his impressive balance and tackle breaking abilities will certainly earn him playing time in the NFL. That alone gives him immediate worth in dynasty leagues, and he should not be slept on. The speed he shows up with at the combine will be a determining factor of how high he gets drafted, but he does also hold the benefit of potentially starring in two final college football games. This might give viewers a true picture of what is to come in his near future.

Edited by Faust

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Alabama junior RB Damien Harris rushed for 77 yards on 19 carries in Monday's 24-6 win over Clemson in the Sugar Bowl to advance to the National Championship Game against Georgia.

Harris (5'11/214) wasn't busting out long runs at the drop of a hat against Clemson's stout front, but he was the most consistent player on either team offensively. The 5-foot-11, 214-pounder hasn't quite cracked 1,000 yards for the season -- he's now sitting at 983 following Monday's action -- but figures to go over that mark in one week when the Alabama dances with the Bulldogs for the national title.

Jan 2 - 1:00 AM

 

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10 hours ago, Soulfly3 said:

Ran hard and was getting touched behind the LoS it seemed almost every carry. 

Workhorse performance

Yeah, he ran well when the game was close. Once it got to 17-6 I turned it off. 

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Alabama junior RB Damien Harris could "sneak into the first round" of the 2018 NFL Draft, according to Albert Breer of the MMQB.

It is possible, but we would be surprised, solely due to the depth of this year's running back class. Harris just hit 1,000 yards on the season, giving him back to back years of crossing that threshold. Harris has not been a lead back, but perhaps the NFL will view that as a positive. Saquon Barkley and Derrius Guice appear to be the two ball carriers solidly in the first round conversation, with others on the outside looking in,

Source: The MMQB 

Jan 10 - 9:48 AM

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10 minutes ago, Raback said:

Looks like he’s returning to Bama 

Surprised with how well that true freshman (Naje) looked at the end of the game.

Edited by Gally

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11 minutes ago, Gally said:

Surprised with how well that true freshman (Naje) looked at the end of the game.

And RB's only have so much shelf life. Unless he thinks his draft stock will pick up, and Harris(Najee) would be one big reason I think it would not, I think this is a very poor financial decision.

Felt similar when OJ Howard returned. Life must be real good in Tuscaloosa for Bama football stars.

Edited by menobrown
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55 minutes ago, menobrown said:

And RB's only have so much shelf life. Unless he thinks his draft stock will pick up, and Harris(Najee) would be one big reason I think it would not, I think this is a very poor financial decision.

Felt similar when OJ Howard returned. Life must be real good in Tuscaloosa for Bama football stars.

It must be amazing, because he's not going to increase his value by going back and getting older. That and Saban probably sold him some line about him being better off with Bo gone.

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7 minutes ago, steelers1080 said:

It must be amazing, because he's not going to increase his value by going back and getting older. That and Saban probably sold him some line about him being better off with Bo gone.

What does the RB class look like next year?  This year seems pretty strong, so maybe he is thinking he'll improve his value by virtue of less competition.

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10 hours ago, bicycle_seat_sniffer said:

2nd best rb named harris at alabama

Najee is the most talented running back in Alabama not sure why Harris is going back. Don’t forget Jacobs and Robinson who ran a 4.41 forty.

Tex

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This guy is regarded as the early favorite as the top rookie RB in the 2019 class, but (IMO) he won't amount to more than a part time guy. He screams "just a guy" to me

I think he does fairly well on a team that uses RBBC, but I'm way more excited about other guys than Harris. Harris may not even be in my top 5 right now. 

Edited by Dr. Dan

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Alabama senior RB Damien Harris rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in Saturday's 45-34 win over Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl.

Harris (5'11/215) did not lead the Crimson Tide in rushing on Saturday evening -- that honor went to Joshua Jacobs (98 yards) -- but did come through with a pair of short touchdown runs in the first quarter to help push Alabama out to an early 21-0 lead. They would end up needing that cushion, as Oklahoma's offense came back hard in the second half to make a game of it. The senior back will take part in a National Championship Game showdown with Clemson next Monday, after which it will be onward to the NFL Draft. He is a likely Day 2 selection for the spring.

Dec 30 - 12:41 AM

 

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The Athletic's Dane Brugler called Alabama senior RB Damien Harris a "not-as-dynamic version of Ezekiel Elliott."

Harris (5'11/215) can "do a little bit everything" and is asked to do more as a pass blocker than almost all college running backs. Zeke, of course, was considered a no-brainer first-rounder after securing a 94th percentile Speed Score at the combine, and that's not something anyone is expecting for Harris. A senior with leadership experience, Harris is considered a Day 2 prospect that can fit into many roles at the NFL level.

Source: The Athletic 

Jan 3 - 6:44 PM

 

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On ‎12‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 3:25 PM, Unwrittenlaw said:

Same

Big red flag for me that he stayed all 4 yrs and never topped 150 att/yr.

That is a positive for me.

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On ‎12‎/‎26‎/‎2018 at 3:25 PM, Unwrittenlaw said:

Same

Big red flag for me that he stayed all 4 yrs and never topped 150 att/yr.

I'm not sure that's a red flag at a place like Alabama that is loaded at the position (well everywhere) and needs to keep everyone happy for recruiting purposes.

  • Like 2

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Scout’s Eye: 2019 CFB National Championship Game

Excerpt:

Quote

RB Damien Harris, SR (5-10, 216, 4.55, #34, Day 2): A powerful running style combined with vision and cutback ability, make Harris one of the top runners in a weak draft crop this year. He fights through contact and bulldozes his way for extra yardage but his balance and burst might be two of his most desirable traits. He’s also a threat out of the backfield and showcases the speed necessary to gash defenses for big chunks of yardage. While not an elite back, he should hear his name called inside the top 100.

 

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3 minutes ago, Faust said:

Scout’s Eye: 2019 CFB National Championship Game

Excerpt:

 

Whilenot an elite back, he should hear his name called inside the top 100.

 

I like the kid, a lot. 

But honestly I'm not sold that I'd draft him high in FF if he goes to a less than ideal situation. Ravens and eagles sure. Others, we'll see. 

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I’m certain his coach praised his vision as his top trait. Even better than some of the other backs that he’s coached which says a lot in my book.

Tex

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Alabama senior RB Damien Harris ran for 57 yards on 11 carries in a 44-16 loss to Clemson on Monday in the National Championship Game.

Harris (5'11/215) and the Tide ran the ball relatively effectively, rushing for 148 yards on 37 carries. Unfortunately, they weren't able to convert chances in the red zone, and the playcalling left a lot to be desired. Harris is considered one of the best tailbacks in this class, although this isn't viewed as the best group of runners we've seen. He projects as a Day 2 pick, with a decent chance to be the first running back selected this spring.

Jan 8 - 12:00 AM

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Bleacher Report's Matt Miller mentioned on his Stick To Football podcast that Alabama RB Damien Harris has fallen to a third-round grade in the eyes of scouts.

Harris lost snaps to Josh Jacobs at Alabama as the season progressed, and scouts were also not happy that the 5-foot-11, 215-pound tailback declined an invite to the Reese's Senior Bowl. Some had Harris as the top tailback in this class and the only running back who had a chance to go in the first round, but now that seems more likely to be Jacobs, who goes sixth in NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah's mock. Harris could be a steal in that area, but there are clearly more questions than answers right now.

Source: Stick To Football 

Jan 21 - 12:53 PM

 

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1 hour ago, JohnnyU said:

He won't be so "meh" in the right situation ;)

Maybe but I don’t put a ton of stock in landing spot to begin with.  Probably should, especially with RBs but I doubt he makes my teams because I’ll likely have him a little lower than most.  

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10 hours ago, Zyphros said:

he's just "meh"

I’ve like Harris’ tape. I think both he and Jacobs will wind up very good pros in the right situation. Landing spot - as always - will be huge.

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The Athletic's Dane Brugler referred to Alabama RB Damien Harris as a "low-ceiling, high-floor NFL running back."

That description sums Harris up pretty well in our estimation. Brugler notes that the 5-foot-11, 215-pounder lacks "initial explosion," but makes up for that lack of burst by degrees via "run instincts, balance and versatility." Harris has been viewed as a borderline first-round prospect at times in his career, but the consensus seems to have settled more into the Day 2 range as we approach the spring. Earlier this month, Bleacher Report's Matt Miller passed along on his 'Stick to Football' podcast that scouts had begun to view Harris as a third-round prospect. He hears that in some corners, the Alabama back's decision to forego the Senior Bowl rubbed the wrong way. A strong combine could go a ways toward papering over those gripes.

Source: The Athletic 

Jan 30 - 1:57 PM

 

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Rivals' Mike Farrell compared Alabama RB Damien Harris to New Orleans Saints RB Mark Ingram.

Farrell also inferred that people were "sleeping" on Harris (5'11/215) as a prospect in the NFL draft. A comparison to Mark Ingram seems to be towards the top of Harris' range of potential in our opinion. Harris is currently viewed as Day 2 prospect and has fallen well behind former teammate Josh Jacobs who could be the first running back off the board in the NFL Draft. A strong performance at the combine could improve his draft significantly.

SOURCE: Mike Farrell on Twitter

Feb 24, 2019, 12:44 PM

 

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ESPN's Matt Bowen ranks Alabama RB Damien Harris fourth among the "complete" running backs in the 2019 NFL Draft class.

Bowen notes that Harris is a decisive runner, and his "sweet" feet help him work through the wash. Bowen also notes that the 5-foot-11, 215-pound running back will compete in pass-pro, and while he doesn't run many routes, he's a reliable receiver that serves as a safety valve. "Harris doesn't have a deep collection of "wow" plays on the film, Bowen writes," but I see the skills that translate to the position in the NFL game as a potential Day 2 pick."

SOURCE: ESPN

Feb 25, 2019, 1:42 PM

 

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Alabama RB Damien Harris ran the 40-yard dash in 4.57 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine.

Harris (5'10/216) is able to do a lot of things well on the field, but does not possess outright burner wheels. His 40 time of 4.57 seconds was fine, if a little on the slow side. Following that jaunt, he notched a broad jump of 121 inches and a vertical jump of 37 inches, while earlier in the week, the Alabama product hoisted the bar 16 times in the bench press. We'll likely see Harris fly off the board at some point on Day 2.

SOURCE: Matt Zenitz on Twitter

Mar 1, 2019, 4:05 PM

 

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So were the live/unofficial times just that far off?  I was watching on NFLN and I thought I remembered both times coming in around 4.49?

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NFL Films' Greg Cosell compares Alabama RB Damien Harris to Mark Ingram.

Cosell doesn't believe Harris (5'10/216) will be viewed as a special talent by NFL teams, but he does think that Harris can turn into a good player. Harris has three-down abilities and is a reliable running back with tons of experience, so it's easy to see a team taking him between No. 35 and No. 65 overall. Cosell has Joshua Jacobs as his top running back prospect because he has "more juice" than Harris does.

SOURCE: Ross Tucker Podcast

Mar 16, 2019, 12:34 PM

 

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Bleacher Report's Matt Miller compares Alabama RB Damien Harris to NFL free agent RB Alex Collins.

Important to note that these are on-field comparisons, as Collins is currently a free agent and facing criminal charges related to marijuana and gun possession. Miller notes that Harris, like Collins, is a "Physical runner between the tackles who has the vision to pick his way through traffic." There are negatives here, however, as he notes that Harris has tight hips, and lacks top-end speed. "[Collins] might top out as a rotational back if not drafted into a system that values interior rushing yardage," Miller writes. "What he offers as a third-down back makes him a potential value in Rounds 2-3."

SOURCE: Bleacher Report

Apr 2, 2019, 3:00 PM

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LOL "tight hips" sure is the new buzz word around the scouting community.  It's like every scout thinks they have to use the term about somebody to be taken seriously.

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