5 running backs the Panthers could target in the 2021 NFL Draft

(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports) Javonte Williams
(James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports) Javonte Williams /
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Carolina Panthers
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports) Najee Harris /

Najee Harris – Alabama

Alabama running back Najee Harris was more than just “along for the ride” as the Crimson Tide rolled through college football opponents during its national championship season in 2020. The dominant prospect rushed for almost 1,500 yards and totaled 30 touchdowns from scrimmage en route to fifth place in Heisman Trophy voting and the Doak Walker Award for best running back in college football.

At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, Harris was tough to bring down at Alabama and wasn’t too far behind Javonte Williams, who led the nation in broken tackles.

  • Williams 83 broken tackles.
  • Harris 78 broken tackles.

What makes Harris especially dangerous is his pass-catching ability for a back his size. Simply put, he is the type of weapon that could be a handful of quite a few defensive coordinators in the NFL and has drawn comparisons to Le’Veon Bell earlier in his career.

Unfortunately for the Carolina Panthers, the 23-year old running back’s cache is similar to that of Travis Etienne’s. He was a four-year back under Nick Saban, so it will be interesting to see how heavily that’s taken into consideration by teams looking to take their next RB1.

Most mock drafts have Harris going to teams like the Miami Dolphins, Buffalo Bills, or Pittsburgh Steelers later in the first round. While it would be shocking, Carolina may find themselves with a tough call to make if the player lasts until Round 2.