Najee Harris was selected 24th overall in the 2021 NFL draft. This dynamic running back out of Alabama was the first running back selected in the draft.
Najee Harris reportedly ran an unofficial forty-yard dash of 4.45 seconds while at Alabama. This forty time was not at a combine or pro day which means it was likely hand-timed.
Most players run their 40-yard dash at the NFL combine, if they are not able to do that they will often run this drill at their college’s pro day.
Najee Harris wasn’t able to run the forty-yard dash at the combine because the 2021 NFL combine was cancelled due to the pandemic. This is why Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle also do not have official 40 times.
At Najee Harris’ pro day at Alabama, he was unable to run the forty-yard dash due to an ankle injury. This resulted in Najee Harris having no official forty yard dash time.
Instead Touchdown Alabama Magazine was able to hear from a source that Najee Harris ran a 4.45 forty yard dash during his time at Alabama.
Though this may be true the fact that this 40 time is unofficial makes a big difference. At the NFL combine players are measured in the forty-yard dash using lasers.
When a player crosses through the laser the time starts and when they finish the drill they will cross through another laser stopping the clock.
This creates an incredibly accurate measurement of how long it takes a player to run forty yards.
When doing an unofficial forty-yard dash hand timers are often used. The stopwatch will be started as the player starts the drill and will be stopped as they cross forty yards.
Though this method is relatively accurate hand timing has the issue of human reaction time. The timer may believe he has started the watch on time but it is going to take them a few milliseconds to react.
These few milliseconds are a big deal in the forty-yard dash and can greatly affect a player’s 40 time.
Najee Harris Pre Draft Strengths And Weaknesses
Like all prospects entering the draft, analysts will have a list of strengths and weaknesses they believe the player to have. It can be interesting to look back at these predictions once the player has spent some time in the NFL.
Pre Draft Strengths
“Violent finisher who is ready to thump when challenged”
In college, Najee Harris did not shy away from contact as he was happy to take on defenders anywhere on the field.
Once he made the jump to the NFL this did not change. Najee frequently initiates contact with defensive players and often requires several defenders to bring him down.
This pre-draft strength could not have been more accurate. In Najee Harris’ rookie season he received the ball 381 times and did not fumble the ball once.
Not only was this incredibly impressive for a rookie it also marked the most touches in a season without fumbling the football.
Pre Draft Weaknesses
“Lacks speed to threaten for the big play”
One of the weaknesses coming into the draft for Najee is that he did not have breakaway speed. Though he would often be able to outpace linebackers and defensive linemen he often could not make it past the defensive backs.
This stayed true in the NFL as Najee was not able to generate many long runs during his first year in the league.