Najee Harris, the top-rated running back in this year's NFL draft, wanted to watch his teammates participate in Alabama's Pro Day. But after lightning canceled his flight from Dallas to Birmingham, Harris had to make alternate plans. Instead of flying, Harris drove nine hours to support his teammates on Tuesday, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Harris -- who isn't participating in the Pro Day -- still wanted to be on hand to support teammates Christian Barmore, Deonte Brown, Alex Leatherwood, Thomas Fletcher, Miller Forristal, Mac Jones, Josh McMillon, Patrick Surtain and Carl Tucker. Other notable Alabama players that did not participate Tuesday included Landon Dickerson, Dylan Moses, Devonta Smith and Jaylen Waddle. All five players were listed as "injured," with Dickerson (knee), Waddle (ankle) and Smith (hand) recovering from injuries sustained during the 2020 season. Harris could potentially participate in Alabama's second Pro Day on March 30.
Waddle, Smith, Jones, Surtan, Leatherwood, Barmore, and Harris are expected to be selected in the first round of the 2021 NFL draft. Harris, who rushed for 1,466 yards and 26 touchdowns (while averaging 5.8 yards per carry) last season, is the only running back projected to be selected in the first round. In his most recent mock draft, CBS Sports NFL analyst Ryan Wilson has Harris going to the Buccaneers with the 32nd overall pick. If that happens, that would mark the second straight year the defending champions closed out the first round by picking a running back; the Chiefs took Clyde Edwards-Helaire with the 32nd pick in the 2020 draft.
Harris has been training in Texas with football and quickness coach Joshua Hicks of 3Hunnid Fitness. He trained last summer with former NFL running back Derrick Blaylock and former Auburn running back Brad Lester. The training has certainly paid off for Harris, whose success last season helped Alabama capture its sixth national championship during the Nick Saban era.
While he did most of his damage on the ground, Harris showcased his versatility during Alabama's final three games of the 2020 season. Against Florida in the SEC title game, Harris' complemented his 178 rushing yards and two touchdowns with 67 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Against Ohio State in the national title game, Harris caught seven passes for 79 yards and a score while tallying 158 all-purpose yards and two touchdowns on 29 touches.
Along with being a gifted running back, Harris appears to possess the intangibles that NFL teams look for in a first-round pick. That was on display on Tuesday, as Harris drove roughly 640 miles to support his teammates.