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Rookie Spotlight - Damien Harris


With the 87th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots took former Alabama running back, Damien Harris.

Harris was the second back out of Alabama taken in this year's draft after the Oakland Raiders took Joshua Jacobs in the first round. Harris played all four years and led the team in rushing from 2016 to 2018; in those years, he was the team's starter. As a true freshman, he began as a backup to the current starter, Derrick Henry.

Heading into the 2019 NFL Draft, Harris was viewed as one of the top rookies in the class but has seen a drop in value thanks to an unfavorable landing spot in New England. Will he be overlooked or overvalued in rookie drafts?

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Measurements

Height: 5'10"
Weight: 216 lbs
Arms: 30 3/4″
Age: 22
40-Yard Dash: 4.49
Three Cone: N/A
Bench Press: 16
Vertical Jump: 37.0
Broad Jump: 121

 

Strengths

Entering college, Harris was the number one running back prospect in the nation. As a prospect, Harris is a very intriguing player with a lot to like. If you go back and watch his tape, there are several things to get excited about and that stood out to me.

Harris is more of a traditional north/south runner with solid quickness and speed. For someone of his size, he has great speed and quickness but is definitely more of a power runner. He catches well out of the backfield and is someone that I saw as a potential three-down back. Harris doesn't have any elite traits but is well-rounded and a very solid prospect overall. Efficiency stood out for him in 2018 as well as he finished with 6.45 YPC, which was good for fifth best in this class.

 

Weaknesses

I definitely expected more out of Harris during his time at Alabama. Between the offensive line and that offense as a whole, he didn't quite perform as well as I hoped. He was fairly volume-dependant and doesn't have any traits that are overly impressive. Harris is someone that seems like more of a real-life NFL player rather than a fantasy football player. Pro Football Focus gave Harris a 49.90 Elusive Rating, which is good for 33rd of the 45 running backs ranked in this class.

 

Landing Spot

Falling to New England puts Harris in a tough spot for fantasy football purposes, for now at least. The hype with Harris has slowed down a bit after joining a split backfield behind Sony Michel, James White, and Rex Burkhead. This definitely limits his upside and was a fairly questionable draft pick for the Patriots. It isn't like them to draft a wide receiver in the first round with N'Keal Harry, not to mention last year drafting Michel fairly early, and now Harris. If there is one thing we know about New England, they do like the Alabama recruits and I'm sure they'll find a way to get him involved.

The interesting thing about Harris is that he could potentially be a nice red zone threat with his running style. Last year we saw Michel struggle in the short yardage situations, so I wouldn't put it past Bill Belichick to use Harris in those situations. Potentially, this could be harmful to Michel as the touchdown totals could take a hit.

 

Dynasty Outlook

As far as dynasty rookie drafts go, Harris is someone who has been going in the late second round into the early third. While he may have been a top-five rookie running back prospect prior to the NFL Draft, this landing spot drops him for sure. For now, Harris should be viewed no more than a stash or potentially a taxi squad guy, depending on the format of your leagues.

In order for him to be fantasy-relevant early on, it'll take an injury or two. White hits free agency in 2021 and a lot can change in a couple of years, especially at the running back position. In redraft leagues, he isn't someone that should be on your radar. Harris is a talented rookie and definitely someone worth owning in dyansty football, even if he isn't someone that isn't going to help your team win now.

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