Vision - Is a bit lacking in terms of creativity and instinct, but rarely makes the wrong decision. Great inside/outside zone runner who sees through the first and into the second level -- has some good cuts behind the line of scrimmage to create space for himself. Ultra-decisive which can mutate into impatience and unnecessary urgency behind slow-developing concepts.
Burst - Average to below average in this regard, for NFL play. A rumbler who prefers to seek out contact when working into the second level, as opposed to exploding into space to break angles. Best explosiveness shows out when working outside of the tackles and looking to win the boundary; can draw linebackers in and then beat them outside. Can get tackled in pursuit on outside zone flow given lack of explosive traits.
Change of Direction - Is a measured and controlled runner behind the line of scrimmage who is always ready to stick a foot in the ground and get upfield. Has good swivel in his hips to redirect when pushing the line of scrimmage and work into backside gaps. Lacks elusive traits when he opens up his stride in the second level -- won't cut or spin out of tackles. Still retains good fluidity to redirect at top speed. Cuts aren't explosive, but they are efficient and don't seem particularly heavy.
Power - Slugger who seeks out contact. Runs with tremendous pad level and leg drive, always ready to explode into contact and deliver a shot. Vertical, decisive style of running lends itself to regularly being the instigator. Has great power in his legs to pull tacklers with him and finishes every run falling forward. Majority of tackle-breaks come as a result of power/leverage.
2nd Level Speed - Has some good track speed; perhaps better than what you'd expect. Lack of burst makes him take a second to get there, but can win footraces with LBs. That said, still is only average/decent in this regard and will miss out on breakaway opportunities by getting caught in pursuit. Further development of a stiff-arm would do wonders for his downfield game.
Contact Balance - Cannot, and will not, be taken down by half-hearted tackle attempts. Is rocked up throughout and can absorb glancing blows even when he doesn't see them coming. Arm tackles from first-level defenders do nothing to slow him down. Regularly requires rally tackles when in the second level. Quick footwork lends itself to bracing for contact immediately.
Decision-making - No-nonsense and deliberate. The ideal short-yardage/goal line back for his aggressiveness getting upfield and ability to drive the pile with lower-body power. Eschews some tighter holes at times to search for more sunlight, in part because he really needs a runway to get up to speed. Strong outside zone reads marry nicely with size and one-cut ability. Downfield instincts to break that one last tackle are lacking, likely in part because of inexperience.
Pass Catching - Saw his most productive and positive pass-catching season in his final year, which is a huge net positive for his film grade. At his best on quick swing routes and screen routes, which let him keep his hips upfield and prepare for contact. Not a candidate for option routes given lack of phone-booth agility to separate. Does have success on more downfield passing concepts.
Pass Protection - Frame, want to, and know how all check the boxes. Technique with his hands is a little underdeveloped, but he's still a comfortable distance beyond most collegiate running backs, and that issue should be nicely tidied up in the NFL. Recognition from inside out is clear and effective; rarely fails to find the threat. Delivers a shot and has some flashes of maintaining and continuing blocks long-term.
BEST TRAIT - Power
WORST TRAIT - Change of Direction
RED FLAGS - None
PRO COMPARISON - Corey Clement
Damien Harris would be a welcome addition into any NFL backfield, as long as his round value and expectations are tempered accordingly. Harris will never be a top back in the NFL, though he is able to handle a lion's share of the touches, simply because his athletic profile limits him from creating enough for himself. That said, he's a hard-nosed and disciplined runner who will rarely lose yardage for you and regularly pick up the tough yardage on short downs and in goal line situations. There isn't a team who would say no to a bet as sure as Harris.
But the round value is the question. Harris can handle the bulk of the carries, but must be spelled with a more dynamic threat who can win with the quickness and creativity that Harris lacks; he could have been a true bellcow in a different age of ball, but today is more a 1A option. Harris does have some good receiving ability in his own right, and should warrant at least 15 touches/game over the course of his rookie deal.
ROUND GRADE - Late 3