Najee Harris Compared to Derrick Henry; NFL Scout Says He's Best Player in Draft

Adam Wells@adamwells1985Featured ColumnistMarch 10, 2021

Alabama running back Najee Harris (22) runs with the ball during the Rose Bowl NCAA college football game in Arlington, Texas, Friday, Jan. 1, 2021. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth)
Michael Ainsworth/Associated Press

Najee Harris is the latest in a long line of Alabama running backs coming into the NFL with a lot of hype, with one scout comparing the 2020 Doak Walker Award winner to arguably the best back in the league.

Per Bob McGinn of The Athletic, an anonymous NFL scout called Harris the best player in the draft and brought up Derrick Henry's name.

"Reminds me of Derrick Henry," the scout told McGinn. "I have a feeling he'll run in the 4.5 [in the 40] because he runs away from people in that league [the SEC], and that league I know has speed. Only negative I had was he absorbs punishment because he likes to run through tacklers instead of going around them."

Henry ran for 3,591 yards and 42 touchdowns on 602 carries in 39 games from 2013-15. Harris ran for 3,843 yards and 46 touchdowns on 638 carries in 51 games from 2017-20. He had more opportunities as a receiver because of how Alabama's offense has evolved in recent years, adding 80 catches, 781 yards and 11 touchdowns.

Henry only caught 17 passes during his three-year run with the Crimson Tide, but he had 395 carries during his Heisman year in 2015. 

There are some physical differences between the two as well. Henry measured in at just under 6'3" and 247 pounds at the 2016 NFL scouting combine. Harris' official measurements won't be known until Alabama's pro day March 23, but he's listed at 6'2" and 230 pounds on the school's athletic website. 

ESPN's Todd McShay ranked Harris as the 20th-best prospect in this draft class, praising his development as a decisive runner and noting the improvements he made in pass protection during his senior year

The list of Alabama running backs drafted during Nick Saban's tenure also includes Mark Ingram, Josh Jacobs, Eddie Lacy, Kenyan Drake, Trent Richardson, T.J. Yeldon, Bo Scarbrough and Damien Harris.

Najee Harris looks to be the next in line to carry that torch.