Najee Harris is a running back for the Pittsburgh Steelers, and was drafted with the 24th overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Originally from Martinez, California, Harris played at Antioch High School in Antioch, California, and rushed for 2,776 yards and 34 touchdowns during his senior year. Viewed by many as the no. 1 recruit in the 2017 recruiting class, Harris enrolled at Alabama, where he played backup to a cast of characters that included Damien Harris, Bo Scarbrough and Josh Jacobs. Harris took over the lead back role at Alabama in 2019 and stayed in that role for two seasons. During his time as Bama’s starter, Harris’ college stats amounted to 2,690 rushing yards and 39 touchdowns, while he also caught 70 passes for 729 yards and another 11 scores. The 2020 season was full of accolades for Harris, as he was named the Doak Walker Award winner, a unanimous All-American, a first-team All-SEC player and the SEC Championship game MVP. This was in addition to helping the Crimson Tide win the 2020 CFP National Championship.
Harris is built to be an NFL running back, standing at 6-foot-1, and weighing 232-pounds. He doesn’t need to shy away from contact, although he’s quite adept at avoiding it. He finished No. 2 in broken tackles (106) in his rookie season, per PlayerProfiler metrics, and was also No. 2 in yards created (1035). While most running backs of Harris’ size don’t profile as top pass-catchers, Harris has proven to a proficient receiving back. He entered the league with a 13.4-percent College Target Share (90th-percentile) and was No. 1 among running backs in routes run in 2021 (424). He also rank No. 1 in receptions (74) and No. 3 in receiving yards (467).
As a rookie, Harris finished No. 4 in the league in rushing yards (1200), but didn’t fare well in Next Gen Stats. Behind an underwhelming offensive line, Harris ranked No. 53 among running backs in True Yards Per Carry (3.8) and was No. 33 in Breakaway Run Rate (3.9-percent). He finished as RB6 in fantasy points per game (17.7) that season, but had his upside boosted by a noodle-armed Ben Roethlisberger, who relied heavily on Harris in the short areas of the field. As a receiver, Harris led all running backs in Routes Run (424) and had a 14.5-percent Target Share, which was good for No. 6 among RBs. He finished the year with eight drops (No. 2). Harris was the No. 1 running back in the league in several opportunity categories in 2021 including Snap Share (84.5-percent), Opportunity Share (86.4-percent), Weighted Opportunities (331.8) and targets (94).
In 2022, the Steelers' backfield touches were split more evenly between Harris and rookie Jaylen Warren. Harris was still No. 5 in carries, but played only 65.1-percent of snaps (No. 11) and earned just 53 targets (No. 18). His Efficiency metrics continued to wane. His 3.8 True Yards Per Carry number was No. 59 among running backs and, despite decent volume, he had just seven Breakaway Runs, amounting to a 2.6-percent (No. 51) Breakaway Run Rate. Harris will continue to lose snaps to Warren if Warren continues to best him in efficiency metrics.