Damien Harris: 4 Star RB with 1st Round Fantasy Potential

Welcome to the 48 Report, a full database of 48 of our favorite 2019 Draft Prospects. The key, however, is that we focus specifically on their ability to translate as fantasy football players. All players in the database have been scored by 3 writers, and this is their article; explaining their aggregate score, as well as the score of their writer. All categories are scored on a 1-5 scale; with 5 being the highest score a prospect can receive. The highest aggregate average scores a player can receive is 25. Articles will be posted January-April, all the way up to the draft. Ratings will be adjusted after the combine, based on measurables and after the draft, because as we all know: landing spot matters.

Damien Harris (5’10”, 215) Running Back, Alabama

18.3 Aggregate Score (4 Star Prospect)

Damien Harris finds himself in the middle of a packed running back group, in what’s being deemed as a weak year for the position. Running backs will likely start coming off draft boards later than they did in 2018,however, there is still a lot of value (and future fantasy production) in the 2019 draft class. Harris combines strength and receiving skills in a way that uniquely propels him towards the top of that future production.

Harris was a 5-star recruit, according to 247 Composite,coming out of Berea, Kentucky. At Madison Southern High School, Harris rushed for 6,717 yards and 111 touchdowns; including a monster junior year when he totaled 2,621 rushing yards and 42 touchdowns. These stats earned Harris a variety of honors including: 2013 Kentucky Gatorade Player of the Year (junior year)and 2014 All-USA First Team by USA Today (senior year). Harris was rated as the number 3 running back in his class and chose Alabama over Kentucky, Ohio State,and Michigan.

No Stranger to Competition

Harris has led Alabama running backs in rushing for the last three years (sophomore-senior seasons). In those seasons, Harris has rushed 420 times for 2,956 yards and 22 touchdowns. He’s also caught 46 passes for 391 yards and 2 touchdowns. Harris, however, has battled teammates for touches in each of those seasons. In 2016, Harris rushed 146 times for 1,037 yards, Hurts rushed 191 times for 954 yards, and Bo Scarbrough (now of the Dallas Cowboys)rushed 125 times for 812 yards. In 2017 Hurts and Scarbrough combined for 278 attempts, compared to Harris’ 135 attempts. Najee Harris and Joshua Jacobs also combined for 107 attempts. In 2018, with a pass-first quarterback at the helm,Harris led the offense with 139 attempts, but Jacobs (109) and Najee Harris(108) also saw significant action.

Still, even with that competition Harris finished 9thin SEC rushing in 2016 (62nd in the nation), 7th in SEC rushing (59th in the nation) in 2017, 11th in SEC rushing in 2018 (97th in the nation). Harris’ production looks even better when considered in yards/rush: 7.1 yards/carry (16th in the nation)in 2016, 7.4 yards/carry (7th in the nation) in 2017, and 5.9 yards/carry (55th in nation) in 2018. It’s worth noting that although Harris’ rushing yards dropped off in 2018 (819, compared to an average of 1,018 in 2016 & 2017), his receiving yards increased to 201, from an average of 95 in 2016 & 2017.

Speed/Agility:Aggregate Score: 3.3 (Personal Score: 4)

I don’t expect Harris to test shockingly well while running the 40 at the Combine. He does, however, show up quick on tape. He’s slow off the line of scrimmage but accelerates well once he gets going. He’s got solid burst once he hits a hole and has a nasty jump cut that helps him blow past defenders.Harris has demonstrated the ability to make guys miss, when in space. Harris,however, finds himself in between the tackles more, which creates an illusion of slowness. I have him rated slightly higher (4) than his aggregate score because his agility makes him quicker than his raw speed does.

Receiving Skills Aggregate Score: 4 (Personal Score: 3)

Harris didn’t get a lot of work in the passing game,however, he proved to be efficient when he did get opportunity. Harris has good hands that allow him to haul in quick passes which came mostly in the flat.Almost like clockwork, Harris snags balls in the flat and sharply turns upfield; finding a way to rack up receiving yards after catch (RAC). His ability to rack up RAC makes him a versatile NFL prospect; he’s one of the few running back prospects I’ve reviewed so far who demonstrate the ability to contribute on all 3 downs.

Vision: AggregateScore: 4 (Personal Score: 4)

Harris consistently demonstrated good vision in his tape. He does a good job finding open holes (albeit that’s easier behind Alabama offensive linemen) and uses the aforementioned jump cut to hit those holes. One of the most impressive parts of watching Harris play is seeing his ability tof ind room in between the tackles; he consistently hits small holes and pops out of the back end clear of defenders are with the momentum needed to break off a big play.

Blocking: Aggregate Score: 2.6 (Personal Score: 2)

Damien Harris runs with fantastic strength, however, that strength doesn’t show up with the same force when he’s blocking. Harris got over powered by defenders consistently when pass blocking, and there’s a few instances of him getting really rocked by bull rushing linebackers. He also has a tendency to throw his body (shoulder first) at defenders even when making static pass blocks. This actually works out for Harris often, but I can’t imagine it’ll pass the test with NFL coaches. Blocking is the biggest liability I see with Harris’ game, however, I do think he can be coached out of it; givenhis strength.

Strength: Aggregate Score: 5 (Personal Score: 5)

From his worst feature to his best; Harris is perhaps best described by one of the notes from my fellow Fanalysts (and 48 Report) writer Christopher Nelson who made the comment “Baby Hulk” on his Harris notes. He’s an aggressive rusher who gets me fired up when he hits a hole with ferocity. He keeps a low center of gravity and has great balance that, when combined with his strength, leaves defenders bouncing off of him at the line of scrimmage and downfield. Harris also consistently fights for extra yardage.

Conclusion: Late 1st-Early Second Round Target

Harris received a nice score from our team (4 Star prospect), and it’s justified: he’s good at a lot of things. Much like his split workload at Alabama suggests, though, I’m worried if he’s going to be great enough at anything to quickly earn NFL work. Still, Harris’ upside is there, and I think he will find himself close to my top 5 running backs for the 2019 class. Time will tell, but for now Harris’ upside is enough to keep him in 1st round consideration from me.

Published by

Matt Hicks

Matt’s writing is focused on dynasty and devy fantasy football. He loves blending his experience writing research in the field of education with fantasy football stats. Matt currently lives in Baltimore, MD and graduated from Eastern Connecticut State University and the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. You can follow Matt on Twitter: @TheFF_Educator

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