First, let’s be clear: You’re not going to get a perfect player at 22.
In Charles Harris, the Dolphins are getting a high-end pass rusher.
They’re getting something else, too:
“Hardest worker I've ever coached and the smartest too,” UM defensive line coach Craig Kuligowski, who coached Harris at Missouri, told me tonight. “He can really lean and play low. He is going into a great fit for him with the Dolphins.”
The concern, of course, are his metrics against the run, at least according to Pro Football Focus and several analysts who expressed concern about that part of his game.
PFF said Harris was “pushed around far too easily against the run this season. Didn’t offer much resistance against down blocks, and his run stop percentage of just 4.9 percent was tied for 91st-best among 3-4 outside linebackers. Caught over pursuing far too often. Sometimes inside, sometimes outside, and sometimes upfield. Seemed to lose track of the play. Was overpowered by opposing offensive tackles at times. Big part of the reason why his run defense grade ranked tied for 163 among edge defenders in 2016. Needs to develop more moves as a pass-rusher. Can win with speed off the edge, and with a devastating spin move, but lack of power shows up on bull rushes.”
PFF says “the good from Harris is very good. He can make a fool out of offensive linemen with his signature spin move, and it’s good enough to cause problems for tackles the NFL too. That being said, the lack of variety in his pass-rushing arsenal, along with his lack of strength against the run, especially in 2016, does give cause for concern. He may be limited to a pass-rushing role at the next level.”
More analyst reaction to Miami’s pick of the Missouri defensive end:
• NFL Network’s Mike Mayock: “Really solid pick. Missouri literally recruited him off a playground watching him play basketball. He’s got a real good get-off. Has a good first step. Explosive off the edge. This young man is deft as a pass rusher. That was the highest need Miami had. That’s a real good pick by the Dolphins.”
• ESPN’s Mel Kiper: “Pass rusher. Knows how to get after the quarterback. Has than spin move. Seven tackles, three sacks against Georgia. He plays faster than his time. He closes quickly. Kind of a one dimensional player. Could be a situational pass rusher early on. This league is about putting heat on the quarterback, which Charles Harris knows how to do.”
• ESPN’s Jon Gruden: “He is a liability I think right now against the run. He’s got to recognize draws. He’s got to smell out screens. He’s got to improve at the point of attack. But he’s got two great veterans players to learn from – Cameron Wake and William Hayes. He’s in good position as a third end. [Gruden forgot about Andre Branch.]
“He comes from a program that produces a lot of big time pass rushers. He can get off and he can get the corner. He makes a lot of his money living on the edge and that’s what sets up that speed rush because these offensive tackles overset.”
• ESPN’s Louis Riddick: “This guy is a tremendous athlete. They put him through linebacker drills at the Combine and he caught balls like a tight end. He can play SAM backer if you needed him to. They can move him all over the place. He has a great mentor in a guy like Cam Wake to learn from. Chuck Smith, the former defensive end with the Atlanta Falcons and a former teammate of mine, worked with Charles Harris before the draft. He told me that spin move of his will rival Dwight Freeney when it’s all said and done. They’ve got tremendous value right here.”
• NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein: “High-cut pass rusher with good athleticism but concerns regarding his ability to drop anchor against the run. Ironically, Harris might be best suited as a penetrator which is something he fought against this season. His hands can be improved as pass rush weapons, but he has agility and footwork that can't be taught. Harris can play on the edge in a 4-3 and should be the next in a line of early contributing defensive ends coming out of Missouri....
“Found himself too easily engulfed by size this season. Gives ground on the edge and can be widened out of his run fit. Hands must get better at point of attack. Needs to punch and own the point. Rides on blocks rather than shucks them. Lacks desired glass-chewing mentality against the run. Plays with slow reaction time to counters and misdirection and can lose track of the ball.
“Long legs with well defined bubble. Has loose, fluid hips. Explodes out of his stance in search of gap work vs. run game. Lateral quickness makes it a challenge to reach him or cross his face for offensive linemen. Good first step quickness. Plays with energy and keeps it cranked up until the whistle blows. Runs with high knees and athletic, long strides in the open field. Basketball standout in high school who uses nimble feet for an effective spin move. Can unleash spin counter in either direction. Plays on either side of the line and can play with a hand down or standing up. In 2015, led team in sacks, tackles for losses and hurries and was second in tackles. Uses early speed-to-power to create movement before attacking the tackle's inside shoulder. Showed some ability to drop in space when called upon.”
• Draft analyst Tony Pauline: “Explosive college pass-rushing defensive end who will receive consideration as a 3-4 outside linebacker. Fires off the snap with an explosive first step, plays with lean and gets leverage on opponents. Displays tremendous quickness in his overall game, uses his hands to protect himself and is rarely off his feet. Easily bends off the edge, immediately alters his angle of attack and displays speed moving to every direction of the field. Possesses a closing burst, moves well laterally and shows speed chasing the action in pursuit. Displays a variety of moves getting off blocks, occasionally stands up over tackle and can be tough to stop. Focused on by opponents but consistently disrupts the action.”