Houston Texans Draft: Najee Harris could be RB team has been looking for

Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports /
Najee Harris, Houston Texans
Alabama Crimson Tide running back Najee Harris (22) Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby-USA TODAY Sports /

There should be many options for the Houston Texans when their time arrives to make a selection in the 2021 NFL Draft. If the team decides to draft offense, running back could be that choice. The reason is because Najee Harris could still be on the board in the third round, and the Texans don’t have a long-term answer for the position.

Currently, the Houston Texans before the start of the 2021 NFL Draft have David Johnson, Phillip Lindsay and Mark Ingram as their main running back options, while there are also Buddy Howell, Scottie Phillips and Dontrell Hilliard on the roster as well at the running back position.

Johnson, Lindsay and Ingram’s contracts all expire at the end of the 2021 NFL season, and all running backs on the roster except Phillips are all also on expiring contracts, too. This is where the 67th overall selection for the Houston Texans comes into play, and Najee Harris could be considered at this selection.

It is also true the Texans have a need for a defensive lineman or wide receiver with the 67th overall pick in this draft, but position need for the current-day product of the Texans might not be on the radar of general manager Nick Caserio or head coach David Culley.

This Texans front office needs to think about the future of the franchise, and maybe getting settled in with a running back in the third round — a running back who is projected to be a “dual-threat” — is the right choice.

Houston Texans: Should the team draft for need in Round 3?

Though this is a spot where the Texans should draft need, and there is a need for the 2021 season at wide receiver, defensive line or even the EDGE spot, it wouldn’t be a total surprise if the Texans decide they couldn’t pass on Harris of the Alabama Crimson Tide if he’s on the board when their third round pick arrives.

While with the national champion Alabama squad last season, Harris played in 13 games where he totaled 1,464 yards rushing on 252 carries (26 touchdowns), plus in catching passes he was a standout as he caught 43 passes (53 targets) for 425 yards with Mac Jones as his top quarterback in 2020.

Pro Football Focus graded Harris as a third-round projection, and his collegiate grade for the ’20 season was 89.8. The following is what PFF says about Harris in their draft projection:

"“Harris is as safe a bet to produce as both a runner and receiver as there is in the draft class.”"

In a draft report by NFL.com, NFL Analyst Lance Zierlein said the following about Harris as he enters the NFL:

"“Creates additional yardage with both wiggle and power, but he lacks desired top gear to change games in a flash.”"

With that positive and some negative assessment of Harris — the profile also compares him to for Rams running back Steven Jackson — that is enough for any team to be interested in him when the third round arrives.

The Houston Texans could settle with their current running back depth chart, as it has potential, but there is good and bad when it comes to the veteran players. As much as Johnson, Lindsay and Ingram can help the Texans in ’21, with those players all having one year on their contracts, who even knows if they will be around in ’22?

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Drafting Harris with the 67th overall pick wouldn’t be the worst decision here, and it would give the Houston Texans depth at the position for the next four to five seasons. That would be a positive for this franchise moving ahead with their rebuild.