In this segment I will determine the few players that the Eagles will likely pursue in the draft at each position of need, and when they will select them.
As we discussed in our positional breakdown of the Eagles and their offseason needs, the Birds don’t have a true number 1 running back that can work all three downs and take pressure off the passing game and Carson Wentz.
The Eagles ask a lot of their running backs- they are expected to be able to block and be a receiver on top of their running duties. While the Eagles are predominantly a pass-heavy team, if they could implement a sturdy number 1 running back then their play-action game and Wentz’s health can only be improved.
Yesterday we discussed Rodney Anderson, the injury-prone big RB from Oklahoma who could be taken in the third day of the draft. Today, we’ll aim a little higher in the draft.
The Prospect: Damien Harris, RB, Alabama
Today we’ll look at Damien Harris, who was the lead back at Alabama. He is 5’10” and weighs in at 214 lbs. Harris is Underdog’s 34th best prospect, and the second best back in the draft.
Josh Jacobs, the backup at Alabama, is seen as the top running back in the draft by us and most analysts, and is Underdog’s 28th best prospect. Harris, however, has had an excellent career at Alabama. In his four years, Harris ran for 3073 yards on 476 carries, for an average of 6.45 yards per carry and 23 TDs.
He also improved on his effectiveness in the passing game, more than doubling his production from Junior to Senior year, hauling in 24 catches for 204 yards. Harris was a solid blocker as well, as you can see in the Auburn film below. Though he doesn’t make any knock out blocks, Harris is able to turn and slow defenders enough to keep a clean pocket.
Here’s his 2018 game against Auburn. It’s not his flashiest game but you can see his running style, his ability to block, and that while he’s not a dynamic receiver, he is able to be a factor in the passing game.
At 0:47 you can see Harris’ only catch of the day, and at 2:15 you can see him attempt to pick up two blitzing linebackers (he gets one, but it might’ve been a holding penalty). At 2:39 he has a successful blitz pickup, as well as at 3:24. Harris has a physical, fight-for-yards run at 4:04, and that’s about it. Throughout the film, though, you can see Harris’ strong running style.
And here’s a highlight reel with that “win” song from Madden 19. He shows off a lot more athleticism in this highlight reel than in the Auburn film.
Harris, as we mentioned, has ran that ball 476 times in the last four years, so he’s got some wear and tear but not a concerning amount of tread. Injuries do not seem to be something that has affected his career very much as of yet.
If Harris can continue to improve his abilities as an effective receiver, then the Eagles would probably prioritize him heavily in the draft. Either way I think he is a very viable option in the second round, where the Eagles have two picks.
Matt Miller mocked Harris to go early in the third round, but I can see him going in the second round to a RB-needy team like the Eagles.