“When you look at the combination of Etienne, who’s maybe a little bit undersized, but has big time juice, big time speed, then you have Najee Harris who’s 230 pounds,” NFL Network’s draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “He has balance and can bang inside, but he can also get involved in the pass game.”
Oklahoma RB Rhamondre Stevenson is 6-0 and played at 235/236 last season after he came off of his suspension. He’s on a Zoom call with the media today. #Falcons need a RB. “They can just turn on the the film and see what I did the last couple of years,” Stevenson said. pic.twitter.com/myGfgeRyUQ
The Falcons would likely have to trade back into the first-round to get Harris.
“I think if you check the record, every running back that we’ve had here since we came here has been a third-round or better in terms of the draft and how they got drafted,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “We’re very proud of that in terms of the quality of guys that we’ve been able to recruit, but also with how they have developed in the program here.”
Saban doesn’t like to compare his former players, but he spoke to the merits of Harris’ game.
“Najee is, I think, an exceptional player,” Saban said. “He’s got great size. He’s a really good receiver. His instinctive as a runner. He’s tough. He’s hard to tackle. He kind of gets better as the game goes on.”
Harris is listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds. Henry is 6-3, 247 and became just the eighth player to rush for more than 2,000 yards last season in Smith’s offense.
Henry was selected in the second round (45th overall) by the Titans in 2016.
Harris finished his career as Alabama’s all-time leader for total touchdowns with 57 (46 rushing, 11 receiving). He’s the school’s career leader for rushing scores with 46, which surpassed the previous record of 42 held by Mark Ingram and Henry.
Harris’ 3,843 career rushing yards tops Alabama’s all-time list.
“So, he’s got some really, really positive attributes,” Saban said. “He’s always been a good team guy here. I love the guy and think he’ll be really, really good player at the next level.”
Etienne is a dynamic runner and receiver. He rushed for 914 yards and 12 touchdowns last season and caught 48 passes for 588 yards and two receiving touchdowns. Over his fine career at Clemson, he rushed for 4,952 yards, had 1,155 yards receiving and scored 78 touchdowns.
“I’m one of the best skill guys in the draft,” Etienne said. “I am able to do it all. I feel like I add that component to teams in that next tier. I feel like me being in the game, I just possess a lot of things that are God-given that most guys don’t possess.”
Etienne is especially proud of his development as a pass catcher.
“Coming here out of high school from a Wing T, I probably had 16 targets my whole career in high school,” Etienne said. “Coming here, it was really different. Had to really change my whole game.”
Etienne is fine with being compared to Minnesota’s Dalvin Cook and New Orleans’ Alvin Kamara.
“I feel like both of those guys are very dynamic guys,” Etienne said. “They’re able to change the game, running the ball and catching the ball. Yes, I feel like it’s fair to compare me to those guys.”
“I loved him from the first tape that I popped on,” Jeremiah said. “I didn’t hear much about him during the fall. They ran the heck out of him, him and Michael Carter their other running back at North Carolina.”
Williams rushed 157 times for 1,190 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He caught 25 passes for 305 yards and three touchdowns.
“This kid kind of gives you a little bit of everything,” Jeremiah said. “He’s 220 pounds, but he has big time burst and he’s got really good vision … he’s going to continue to go up because everything I keep digging on and finding out from the school and finding out from guys that have been around him and coached him and played with him, is the kid’s wiring is off the charts.
“In a year where we don’t maybe (don’t) have as much information, when you get a kid who’s got great tape, who’s got high, weight, speed and now the character and the work ethic is off the charts, you bet on those kids.”
D. Orlando Ledbetter, Esq is the award-winning Atlanta Falcons beat writer for the newspaper, has been on the staff since 2003. Every day D. Orlando strives to provide inside in the Falcons and the NFL. He finds the most joy in providing insight into the team, the coaching moves, the offseason business moves, the draft and the games.