Saban on Harris: ‘Najee is ... an exceptional player’

Falcons coach Arthur Smith had former Alabama back Derrick Henry with the Titans.

While the Falcons have signed running back Mike Davis, they still need help at the position and could take another Alabama back Najee Harris in the draft.

The Falcons, who pick fourth overall, would likely have to trade back into the first round to get Harris or hope that he slips into the second round, where they have the third pick, which is 35th overall.

“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 on Monday. “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 was listed at 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds at Alabama. 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 is tops on 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.”

Falcons’ 2021 draft position: Here are the top nine picks in D. Led’s Mock Draft 3.0:

1. Jacksonville Jaguars: Trevor Lawrence (QB, Clemson)

2. New York Jets: Zach Wilson, (QB, BYU)

3. San Francisco 49ers: Trey Lance (QB, North Dakota State)

4. Denver Broncos (trade with Falcons): Justin Fields (QB, Ohio State)

5. Cincinnati Bengals: Penei Sewell (OT, Oregon)

6. Miami Dolphins: DeVonta Smith (WR, Alabama)

7. Detroit Lions: Ja’Marr Chase (WR, LSU)

8. Carolina Panthers: Mac Jones (QB, Alabama)

9. Falcons (trade with Broncos): Micah Parsons, (OLB, Penn State)

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