It seems as of late that running backs are falling out of favor in the NFL, with teams opting not to allocate too many resources to the position in favor of taking a wait-and-see approach in the NFL Draft or even treating the position like a committee. However, when you have a quality starter, it can do wonders for your football team.
While that seems to be the trend as of late, not everybody subscribes to that way of thinking. One of those teams that still does believe in drafting quality running backs early in the draft is the Pittsburgh Steelers, and they proved it when they selected former Alabama Crimson Tide star Najee Harris.
Let’s take a closer look at Harris and his draft experience that led him to become a member of the Steelers.
Najee Harris’ Time in Alabama
Alabama is well known for its collection of five-star talent all over the field. As a result, despite his talent, Harris would not start a game until his third season in Tuscaloosa.
Once he got going, though, Harris never looked back as he would be selected as a second-team All-SEC member in that first year by rushing for 1,224 yards and scoring 13 times on 209 carries. Harris also added 27 receptions for 304 yards and seven touchdowns.
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The impressive play would continue into his final year in college, where he would help Alabama win another title while also winning the Doak Walker Award as the nation’s top running back and earning first-team All-SEC honors as well.
When Was Harris Drafted?
After a stellar college career, Harris would go on to be drafted by the Steelers with the 24th pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. In addition to his impressive college tape, Harris would also show out during the pre-draft process locking in his first-round status.
Due to COVID-19, there was no official NFL Combine in 2021, forcing prospects like Harris to work out and do their own Combines at their respective schools. For Harris, it didn’t matter where or when — he was determined to impress.
However, leading up to Alabama’s Pro Day, Harris elected not to run a 40 since he was dealing with an ankle injury and opted to continue the healing process rather than pushing it.
Instead, the only information that is available regarding Harris’ 40 time is an unofficial clocking from his days at Alabama, where he reportedly recorded a 40 time of 4.45 seconds.
At 6’2”, 230 pounds, with 33 1/4 arm length, and 10 1/4 size hands, Harris’ speed has never been his game. He’s more widely viewed as the bruising type of back who can fight for the tough yards but does show the ability to use speed when necessary.