Lacking strength in the pass rush, Detroit would do well to consider Charles Harris
Missouri’s Charles Harris didn’t start playing football until his junior year of high school. In the two years of high school that he played he did enough to earn a scholarship to Missouri. When you’re big and athletic like Harris earning big-time offers is easier than it is for most people.
During his time in college Harris was able to learn from Kony Ealy, Markus Golden and Shane Ray, who were all his teammates and are currently NFL pass rushers.
Harris had arguably his best season as a redshirt sophomore in 2015. That year he recorded seven sacks and 18.5 tackles for loss. In 2016 Missouri got a new coach and started the year with a new defensive scheme. During the 2015 season they ran an attacking style of defensive that allowed Harris to focus on getting up-field. They switched to a read-and-react, two-gap system. Harris adjusted and managed to do alright in the new scheme but he was better when he could just be aggressive.
After the first seven games in 2016 Missouri switched back to the scheme they ran in 2015. Harris caught fire after the switch. During the first seven games of the year he had three and a half sacks and five and a half tackles for loss. In the final five games after they returned to a more attacking scheme he logged five and a half sacks and six and a half tackles for loss.
At 6’3” and 253 pounds Harris has decent size for the NFL. He isn’t an elite athlete but he is plenty athletic enough. He has good lateral quickness and footwork and plays with energy. When he is allowed to focus on getting into the backfield he can be explosive out of his stance.
Harris has a variety of pass rush moves in his arsenal. They include an effective spin move, a pretty solid bull-rush, and a rip-move. He’s able to use these moves to generate consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Improving his hand-usage would make him an even better pass rusher, but he is already a pretty good one.
Defending the run is the weaker area of Harris’ game. He does a pretty good job of playing gaps. When he’s trying to set the edge he sometimes gives up too much ground. This is at least partly due to the fact that he plays with his pad level too high which makes it easier to push him around. Also he has shown that he can be fooled by counters and misdirections.
Although he certainly isn’t one of the more flashy defensive end prospects in this draft class he could end up being a really solid pro. In terms of football experience Harris is still relatively young. There is still room for him improve. The Lions need to find someone to play opposite of Ziggy Ansah and get after quarterbacks.
Harris’ draft stock fluctuates quite a bit depending on where you look. Some say he’s a mid-first round prospect while others view him as more of a second round player. If the Lions end up with him they could have a player to pair with Ansah for years to come.
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