New series we’ll conduct throughout the offseason. A review of individual players seasons, looking at their good, bad, role, and future with the team.
We’ll continue this series with RB Najee Harris.
#22 Najee Harris – Running Back (Entering 2nd Year)
Pros: Great build, big frame but carries it extremely well, looks light and fit for his weight. Well-rounded back. Highly conditioned, takes care of his body and almost always available, missed two practices the entire year (both heading into Week 18). Displays power and contact balance consistently on runs, fights hard for yards after contact. Impressive strength to run through defenders, lower body always driving and routinely falls forward, pushing the pile along the way. Shows lateral mobility and jump-cut ability to hit the next gap, big guy with light feet. Mean stiff-arm and ability to bully DBs in open grass. Fearless runner, willing and able to hurdle. Capable of handling heavy workload.
Competitive, high IQ player. Doesn’t shy away from contact in pass protection wants to take on LBs and do dirty work, doesn’t live solely for glory. Stays square in pass pro. Tough player able to play through the pain. Great ball security, works at and takes pride in it, keeps multiple points of pressure on the ball and doesn’t let it swing. Knows to prioritize the ball in critical situations (end of game with lead). Above average receiver, doesn’t run a creative or nuanced route tree and largely caught checkdowns, but good hands and able to make difficult, one-handed catches and grab passes thrown outside his frame. YAC threat in space.
High-effort player who takes pride in details, willing to block for others out in space on WR runs, good teammate who just wants to win. Mature, professional approach while maintaining a unique, fun personality. May never be the vocal leader in a room, but teammates will follow his actions and approach.
Notable Clips (Tough Runs + Checkdowns/Finishes):
Cons: Lacks breakaway speed, flashed it only in moments, though conditioning makes him the same athlete at the end of game as the start, evening the playing field. Struggled to turn good runs into great runs. Vision is a bit spotty, tendency to bounce runs and look for open grass to make the big play and get 1v1 with defenders who he knows/believes he can beat. May get frustrated when he’s not able to rip off big run and try to press and create too often, especially in second half of games. Occasionally drops eyes in pass protection and needs to consistently keep his head up. Doesn’t run advanced route tree as a receiver, was not often used in designed pass game.
Notable Clips (Bouncing Runs Wide):
Role: Workhorse back as a rookie. 954 total regular season offensive snaps, most in league (next closest 810). 83.3% offensive snap count, most in league (next closest 68.9%). Set franchise rookie record with 1,200 yards rushing and 74 receptions. 381 regular season touches, did not fumble. Split out as a WR on 72 regular season offensive snaps (7.5%). Played in all 18 games. Cramped early in season, missing end of Broncos’ game, suffered right elbow injury in Week 18, missed rest of first half. Played with sleeve/tape on elbow in Week 18/playoff game.
Future: Lead back who is every bit as advertised and who the team hoped he would be when they took him 24th overall in the 2021 NFL Draft. He’ll continue to be the workhorse of the team in 2022 with little competition or threat to take snaps from him in his way. It’ll be a matter of ability to build around him that will determine if his production remains so volume-dependent.