Armando Salguero

Charles Harris making HOF connection that has caused the Miami Dolphins to take notice

Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris (90) during OTAs at the Miami Dolphins training facility.
Miami Dolphins DE Charles Harris (90) during OTAs at the Miami Dolphins training facility. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The Miami Dolphins have no idea whether Charles Harris will be a fine player or not because regular-season games don’t start for another 13 weeks and, obviously, those will ultimately determine the truth about the team’s first-round draft pick. But there are signs that make the team hopeful Harris is a keeper.

Although the defensive end hasn’t put on shoulder pads or practiced with any significant contact yet, the Dolphins’ excitement about him is well chronicled. It can go almost without saying here because it’s been reported over and over already: Harris has a great first step. He’s got a great motor, meaning he goes hard every play.

He looks the part on the field.

And off the field, the news is almost better.

Seems this first-round pick is coming to the Dolphins eager and hungry. He’s full of energy. And questions. Oh, yeah, and he’s using his head.

Consider that he had one opportunity since draft day to meet Hall of Fame defensive end Jason Taylor.

Harris tried to maximize meeting, turning it into an opportunity. That’s because almost as soon as the rookie was introduced to Taylor, he asked if he could work with Taylor.

“Yeah he did,” Taylor texted. “It was 30 seconds after I met him. He wants to work out and watch film together.”

The work has obviously not yet begun. The Dolphins just finished a string of OTA practices and have a mandatory minicamp on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

But this will happen because both parties want it. Taylor has cleared the idea with the Dolphins who are thrilled their rookie not only has the desire to learn from one of the NFL’s all-time best pass-rushers -- Taylor finished with 139 1/2 sacks in 17 seasons -- but are also impressed Harris even got the idea.

Why?

Well, I ask Taylor how many other Dolphins rookie pass rushers ever asked him for tips and wanted to watch tape and work out with him ...

“Ha,” Taylor said. “None.”

Only a couple of years ago the Dolphins used the No. 3 overall pick in the draft on an angular 6-foot-6 defensive end who everyone, starting with me, immediately compared to a young Jason Taylor in build and potential.

Dion Jordan often spoke of admiring Taylor. He said he wanted to play and accomplish like Taylor. But he never, you know, reached out to Taylor who lives 12 minutes from the Dolphins facility.

“I wanted to train with him,” Harris said of Taylor. “He’s a Hall of Famer. I just want to train with him, learn from him, get better under a legend.”

Harris says he wasn’t certain if asking Taylor for help was proper so soon after they met. But he went for it anyway.

“You got to take a risk,” Harris said. “You have to take a chance. When I first met him I didn’t know if he thought I’d be worthy of it. To be honest, I thought I might not be worthy of it. I’ve never had a Hall of Famer who’s been a big-time player train me or coach me. But I’m going to try to take advantage of my first opportunity.

“I don’t know why nobody wouldn’t.”

I don’t want to read too much into this, except it’s impressive on multiple levels. Not only was Harris thinking but he had to want it enough to overcome his own humility to make the request.

Defensive ends that think are defensive ends the Dolphins should want on their team. Defensive ends that want to put in extra work on their own are good to have. Defensive ends drafted in the first round who understand they’re not in the same company as Hall of Famers despite their draft pedigree have the right perspective.

Harris has also shown humility in his early practice competition against offensive left tackle Laremy Tunsil. He’s won his share of those practice repetitions -- he won’t say that -- and he is using them to learn. Harris, you see, understands he has a lot to learn.

“I remember the first time I went against him, he actually gave me a message,” Harris said. “He told me what to do. It was my first rep. It was the first day of OTAs. I think he had reach-blocked me or something like that. He said, ‘You have to buck me and set the edge.’ Basically. I was like, ‘Dang, I appreciate it.’ Of course, in that moment I wasn’t thinking about it; but that just speaks to the character of him.”

It actually speaks to the character of both players.

Follow Armando Salguero on Twitter: @ArmandoSalguero

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