The NFL draft begins on April 27th in Philadelphia and the Redskins have the No. 17 selection in the first round. This is the sixth in a series of stories analyzing 15 players who could be a good fit for Washington at that position.
A reporter at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis last month complimented Missouri outside linebacker Charles Harris by saying he had a “very good first step.”
Harris just smiled and said “I have a GREAT first step.”
Touché’. That drew laughs from the assembled media, but Harris was just telling the truth. He first noticed exactly how well he can explode off the ball when he’d go one-on-one with former Tigers linebacker Shane Ray in practice or defensive end Markus Golden. Ray was a first round pick in 2015 and Golden a second rounder that same year. Those are strong comparisons. Harris is confident without coming across as brash. Asked about setting the edge in the run game, he noted that in 2015 he had one of the highest run-stop percentages in the SEC.
How he fits: Another player who could intrigue the Redskins as a pass rusher. Harris’ Missouri team tanked in his final season (4-8), but he still had nine sacks and 12 tackles for loss. In 2015, he had 18.5 tackles for loss. Twice he was second-team All-SEC. Has good feet, which he attributes to playing basketball growing up. Refuses to call himself a finesse player. Can attack offensive linemen with a physicality that belies his size. That speed turns into power well enough. Harris bends well to get around the edge. Doesn’t have a ton of experience dropping into coverage, but has shown in flashes that he can. Natural strength, but he can’t rely only on that at the NFL level.
Questions: He doesn’t have a lot of football experience and so his overall technique is raw. Didn’t play the sport until his junior year of high school. His hand technique isn’t always consistent and he can get swallowed by big tackles. There’s some concern about his drop in production under a new coaching staff in 2016 as his defensive assignments changed. Some scouts see a finesse rusher without the power to compensate if that initial burst off the line is halted.
Harris’ take: “I got here by sacking the quarterback. That’s not a secret. So I feel like most teams are gonna play me how I’m supposed to get played. That’s me getting the quarterback. Me covering when I need to cover. When it’s necessary, me playing special teams. Things like that. I’m big, I’m athletic, I can move.”
What they’re saying:
Mike Mayock, NFL Network:
“Charles Harris has got an awful lot of talent, and he gets in that three-point stance and he goes. He’s a long guy, plays hard. Got a great work ethic. He’s really good off the field, a high-character guy.”
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