With Dalvin Cook’s injury history and Alexander Mattison approaching the last year of his contract, filling out depth in the running back room is becoming necessary for the Minnesota Vikings. They can address this looming issue by drafting Kevin Harris out of South Carolina, who will likely be a sixth- or seventh-round pick this year.
Harris is exactly what you think of when you think of a running back. He is a sturdy 5’10” and 220 lbs. He is a wrecking ball with a lot of strength behind him. At first glance, his stature will remind many of Doug Martin and C.J. Anderson. His playing style fits the likes of these bowling-ball running backs as well. Harris is a bruiser who isn’t afraid of contact. He is the definition of a downhill runner.
Like Anderson and Martin, Harris thrives in between tackles. If the Vikings were to draft him, he would be used as a short-yardage bruiser back. He’d be a good complement to Cook’s overall play and Mattison’s pass-catching finesse.
Though it’s easy to overlook Harris’ speed because he is primarily a between-the-tackles running back, he is deceptively fast. He doesn’t have track-star speed, but if you look at his burst when he gets in space, it’s pretty impressive for someone of his size.
Harris’ speed also comes with elusiveness at the line of scrimmage. He can get into holes fast, make a quick cut, and go.
Harris is essentially the “base model” for an NFL running back, meaning he can fit into any scheme, regardless of focus. This may sound uninteresting, especially considering how many running backs have extremely unique skillsets that change the game. But if you simply get Harris the ball, you will get yards.
He’s been a workhorse back in the SEC for years now. Harris was second in the SEC in rushing yards in 2020, only behind Najee Harris. It’s also worth noting that Harris was the SEC’s regular-season leading rusher and only lost the overall title because Harris and Alabama played extra games in the college football playoff. However, Harris took a step back in 2021 due to injury and many other factors.
South Carolina’s offensive line did not help Harris out in the slightest this past year. At times it felt like he would instantly get swallowed by the defense.
Harris also had surgery going into the season, which slowed him down a bit as well.
It’s also important to note Harris’ age. He is only 20 years old. To do anything like he has done at his age is exceptional.
Harris is also versatile. He has a history of taking frequent wildcat snaps for the Gamecocks and has been quite successful.
Having a player who has taken quarterback snaps is an asset. By no means am I saying that Harris will be Minnesota’s emergency QB. But it is nice to know that he can run the wildcat if Kevin O’Connell wants to incorporate that into his offense.
Perhaps what Harris is best at is his ball security. He absolutely refuses to let go of the football.
Even compared to other running-back prospects in this year’s draft, Harris only has a 0.25% career fumble rate.
That is extremely low, among the best in his draft class.
Being a bruiser with ball security is something that the Vikings could use. Minnesota was 26th in third-down conversion percentage in 2021. They can increase this stat drastically by just letting Harris run since you know he won’t turn the ball over.
It isn’t surprising that someone as consistent as Harris is falling in this year’s draft. With how the running back position is used now, every team wants their Alvin Kamara or Christian McCaffrey. That leads to running backs who don’t have bonus skillsets — they’re just particularly good at being running backs — getting overlooked.
Adding a runner as consistent as Harris into Minnesota’s backfield would be a huge asset. Given the lack of depth likely in the near future, it could be a great move — but Harris can easily find a role in the Vikings’ offense in his rookie year.