NAME: Damien Harris
POSITION: Running Back
JERSEY: No. 34
RECRUITMENT RATING: 5-star
Damien Harris is a four-year senior and one of the more exciting and productive running backs in the 2019 draft class. He shows some traits on film that make you want to jump up out of your chair and it’s that skill set that should get him on the field early as a rookie. He is not only a three-down back, but might just be the most pro-ready RB coming out this year.
Harris is scheme diverse and would be equally effective in a gap or zone blocking scheme. He is patient with his approach to the line of scrimmage and does a good job of altering his pace to allow his lineman to set up their blocks. He shows good footwork on film and has a devastating jump cut to evade defenders. Good vision to see cut back lanes and has a good feel for where defenders are coming from. Gets up to speed quickly and gets skinny to work through the trash. Physical runner capable of handling short yardage situations. No ball security issues. Only three fumbles in 557 touches.
Can be a threat in the passing game. Shows natural hands catching the ball out of the backfield. Has shown the ability to extend and catch the ball away from his frame. Tracks the ball well down the field and catches it over his shoulder. More than capable of handling pass protection duties. Good at identifying blitzes and shows good technique when squaring up to pick them up. Also shows good height when cut blocking. Not a lot of wear-and-tear because he shared the load during his time at Alabama.
Damien Harris may be one of the most complete and pro-ready running backs in the entire 2019 draft class, but he may have already peaked as a player. There’s not a lot of areas in his game that needs developing, which is a good thing, but what you see could be what you get with him.
Harris’ short, compact frame looks to be already maxed out physically and doesn’t show much room for growth. He shows some hip tightness on film which limits his ability to shake defenders in the open field. Not very elusive either. Prefers to try and run over defenders instead of evading them. Lacks top-end speed and acceleration. This could limit his ability to capture the edge on outside runs in the NFL. Can pick up chunk yardage, but will get ran down behind.
Worst-case scenario, Harris is nothing more than a jack-of-all-trade running back in the NFL. He is scheme diverse, but likely fits best in a system that values a lot of inside rushing yardage. His lack of acceleration and top-end speed limits his ability to run outside the box, meaning fit might mean everything for his success at the next level.
Damien Harris would be a tremendous fit with the Dallas Cowboys. He would be less of a backup to Ezekiel Elliott and more of a co-starter. His particular skill set fits in perfectly with the Cowboys mix of zone and gap blocking scheme. He is someone who can definitely help lighten the load on Zeke’s shoulders as both a runner and receiver out of the backfield. He is a complete three-down back and if paired with Elliott, would give the Cowboys the best RB duo in the NFL. This would allow them to stick to their run first mentality and continue to pound away at opposing defenses to wear them down throughout the ballgame. Harris’ addition could also give them a little leverage in contract negotiations with Zeke when that time comes.