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Thoughts on Charles Harris at Pick 22

With the 22nd pick in the 2017 NFL Draft, the Miami Dolphins selected Charles Harris, DE – Missouri.

Harris is an edge rusher I previously outlined as a potential target at pick 22 for the Dolphins. Harris comes from a productive Missouri program that has routinely churned out quality edge rushers over the past near decade. The Miami Dolphins only had one meeting with Harris over two months ago in Indianapolis. After their meeting at the Combine, GM Chris Grier stated that the team purposely kept a distance from Harris to throw other teams off their trail of thought. Miami also reportedly turned down two trade offers to take Harris with the 22nd pick.

Below I will give reasons to be positive and reasons to be negative about this pick. We’ll start with the negatives and get those out the way…


Reasons to be negative

1) Reuben Foster

Reuben Foster was there, the tumble that Dolphins fans dreamed about for months actually happened. After Tunsil last year, many in Miami thought it would be too good if a top-3/5 talent in this years draft also fell to the Dolphins in a position they had a huge need. Now I’m not sure whether it was the combine incident, diluted urine sample or should injury – but something spooked 30 NFL teams to pass on the best linebacker prospect since Luke Kuechly. Miami showed last year that they are willing to gamble on guys with character concerns when they took Tunsil. While I still think Foster was the right pick, Harris was the safer option.

2) He is more of a 3-4 OLB, than a 4-3 DE

While Harris has a similar frame to Cam Wake – lets not forget that Wake started out life as a 3-4 OLB. Cameron Wake is one of the most talented pass rushers in the NFL, however, he has his limitations and struggles against the run.

Harris’ size and build is more suited to that of Shane Ray, Terrell Suggs or Von Miller from a pure frame stand point. These guys are all great pass rushers but they all operate out of a 3-4 scheme. The Dolphins have a great prospect with tonnes of potential, but can Miami get the most out of him if he is playing in a scheme that does not suit his skill set?

Charles Harris was deployed in both a 4-3 and 3-4 scheme during his time at Missouri (Photo source: Stephanie Mueller/ Missourian)

(Spoiler! I believe Miami’s wide-9 should utilize Harris’ skillset as long as he is able to set the edge and funnel run plays inside towards Kiko, Timmons and Miami’s LBs).

Counter – Harris was tasked with two-gapping defenders inside and controlling the run at the point of attack at Missouri. Harris also proved his rare athleticism as he showcased his fluid hips in coverage skills at the combine and during his pro day. The Dolphins loved dropping D-linemen into coverage last year to confuse QBs and this pick could allow new DC Matt Burke to get creative.

3) Can get swallowed up by larger tackles.

While Charles Harris is an explosive edge rusher who can unleash an arsenal of moves against OTs to get to the QB, in college he was swallowed up too easily by larger tackles. This is a part of his game where he should improve as he adds mass and learns from All-Pro’s Cam Wake and Ndamukong Suh.

4) Trade down?

I raised this issue on twitter. With the teams drafting after Miami, I believe the Dolphins could have traded down and still had the option of either Harris or UCLA’s Tak McKinley (or Reuben Foster).


Reasons to be positive

1) Cameron Wake 2.0

With the 22nd pick, I believe the Miami Dolphins have got themselves Cam Wake 2.0. Charles Harris displayed tremendous explosiveness in college and this is backed up by his 37.5 inch vertical jump at his pro day (that would have ranked 3rd at the combine behind only Myles Garret and Jordan Willis!). Harris has a quick first step and can convert speed to power. He has a full arsenal of pass rush moves that he uses to get after QBs as he races to the edge and uses his speed and agility to beat tackles round the corner. This speed and explosiveness causes OTs to over compensate and allows Harris to beat them inside with a spin move as they are caught on their heels trying to account for his speed.

Charles Harris proved during his time at Missouri that he can rush with his hand in the dirt from either the left or right side (Photo source: Stephanie Mueller/ Missourian)

Harris will have the opportunity to learn from Cameron Wake and with coaching he can develop into a perennial 10+ sack artist. He is larger than Dwight Freeney but they play a similar way – if Harris could develop into the type of players Wake or Freeney were throughout their careers, Miami might just have struck gold. Charles Harris could be the franchise’s long-term replacement of Cam Wake and the heir apparent to Dolphins royalty Jason Taylor.

2) He loves football

The hardest part of any evaluation is understanding whether a guy is willing to put in the extra hours and hard work required to excel at the NFL level. Every year athletic freaks and gifted prospects get taken high by teams, but not every athlete has the drive and love of the game to hone their craft. The Miami Dolphins fell in love with Dion Jordan in 2013, however, his love of the game wasn’t there and for him it was simply a pay check – look at how that ended up. Coaches want players who buy-in and love the game – Miami got that with Charles Harris.

3) Highly polished prospect who should add an injection of youth into Miami’s D-Line and help them get after Tom Brady and the Patriots

Harris provides an injection of youth toan aging defensive line. He is also the edge rusher with the largest arsenal in this years draft class. By that, I mean he displayed the most moves to get to the QB in college instead of simply relying on speed to beat slower college tackles. Harris has shown he is able to beat offensive linemen with speed round the edge, bull rushing through tackles, and also uses his speed to set up a fierce spin move.

Charles Harris was nicknamed “black ice” at Missouri because opposing QBs never saw him coming (Photo source: Jasen Vinlove/ USA TODAY Sports)

He has a high motor and is relentless trying to get after QBs and disrupt the pocket. While Harris may not possess elite straight-line speed, he is explosive out of his stance and has shown he is able to routinely get home averaging 0.72 sacks per start alongisde 34.5 tackles for a loss at Missouri.

Per PFF – Harris averaged a sack, hit or hurry once every 6.0 pass-rushing attempts in 2016

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One Comment

  1. Don Allen Don Allen 28th April 2017

    Someone explain to me why the Fins, who everybody knows had a poor run defense, take a DE whose weakness is defending the run?

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