Damien Harris, RB, 5-10, 222, 4.54 (40 yards), senior
Expectations for 2018:
After leading Alabama in rushing the past two seasons, Harris was in good position to bolt for the 2018 NFL Draft, where he would have been a likely top-100 draft selection. However, instead of going pro after his junior season like Trent Richardson, Eddie Lacy and Derrick Henry, Harris opted to return to Tuscaloosa for the 2018 season.
While more mileage on the odometer isn't ideal for a running back, Harris has only 326 carries over his first three seasons for the Tide and will likely be part of another committee in 2018. He accounted for only 21percent of the team's total carries last season.
With his strong run instincts, but lack of explosive traits, Harris is considered a "low ceiling, high floor" type of back by NFL scouts. Will he do anything in 2018 to change that opinion?
What the 2017 tape says:
Harris is a terrific ball-carrier, but his ability in pass protection might be what stood out the most on his 2017 tape. He was used as a pass blocker more than any other running back I studied in 2017 and he made it a personal mission to bury defenders with his tenacity and awareness. Not only is Harris terrific in pass protection, but he doesn't fumble and is a regular on punt coverage, recording his first blocked punt last season.
Between the tackles as a runner, Harris senses openings with NFL-ready vision and decision-making. He squares his shoulders to get his momentum going north-south and stays balanced to absorb and finish through tackle attempts. Harris isn't explosive when changing directions, but he does flash an open-field burst (seven rushes of 30-plus yards in 2017, making gliding cuts instead of hard stops, which helps prevent him from gearing down. While he wasn't asked to be a workhorse (only one career game with 16-plus carries), Harris was dominant against SEC competition, averaging 8.2 yards per carry in 17 conference games in the past two years.
With only 26 career receptions, Harris needs to improve as a pass catcher. When targeted, he shows a smaller catch radius, fighting balls that weren't thrown at his numbers or facemask.