Like the rest of this year’s prospects, Najee Harris is anxious to find out which team will select him during the 2021 NFL Draft. And while he does not know where he is headed, the former Alabama running back named one team that will not be selecting him later this month.
After early talks with the 49ers, Harris acknowledged on Adam Schefter’s podcast that the 49ers are no longer in the running to draft him after San Francisco traded up from the No. 12 to the No. 3 overall pick. Harris, a California native who played high school football in a San Francisco suburb, believed that he would be returning home prior to the 49ers’ trade with the Dolphins.
“If there was one team talking to me, it was the Niners,” said Harris, the second-ranked running back in CBS Sports prospect rankings. “I still talk to them a lot, to this day. But I’m talking to them, ‘Yeah, man, yeah, we’re going to get in a Zoom meeting.’ And I look on TV the next day, [and they have the] No. 3 pick. I’m like what the … They ain’t picking no damn running back at No. 3.”
With the 49ers no longer in the running, Harris was asked what other teams have expressed interest. Harris said that he has had several meetings with the Steelers, who are determined to improve a running game that was ranked last in the NFL in 2020.
“They had the whole staff there,” Harris said of a recent Zoom meeting with the Steelers. “The GM, the defensive staff, they had everybody there. They were chill.”
Harris also mentioned the Bills and Dolphins as teams that he has had productive meetings with leading up to the draft. In Buffalo, Harris would join a crowded backfield that already includes Devin Singletary and Zack Moss. The Dolphins’ backfield is currently spearheaded by Myles Gaskin, a second-year seventh-rounder who amassed nearly 1,000 all-purpose yards in 2020.
Displaying his media savviness, Harris did not take the bait when being told that he would look good in a Steelers uniform.
“It’s not my decision,” he said. “Like I said, I’m just seeing who I set up shop with.”
Harris was willing to discuss what he brings to the table as an NFL running back. He said that he has no worries as far as durability is concerned after having more than 700 touches during his time at Alabama. Harris pointed to fellow former Alabama running back Derrick Henry as an example of a physical running back who has managed to stay durable at the next level.
“I’m not a little running back; I’m 6-foot-2, 230 [pounds],” Harris said. “I can carry the load. I have no issue with that … . I train and go about my business so that I can carry the load.”
Harris also weighed in on the league’s current running backs. He said that a healthy Saquon Barkley is the best running back in the NFL today. And while he is in the twilight of his career, Harris said that Adrian Peterson is a top three all-time running back. Harris said that he will spend time training with Peterson this summer in Houston.