Prospects

Prospects
Photo of Nic Harris
Nic Harris (S)
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 234
College: Oklahoma
Conference: Big 12
Hometown: Alexandria, LA
High School: Alexandria
Featured Prospects
Selected by: Buffalo Bills
Round: 5
Pick (Overall): 11 (147)
Discuss
Pick Analysis: The Bills take a chance on the safety-turned-linebacker prospect from Oklahoma. Harris isn't a polished product at this point, but his athleticism will improve the Bills' depth and special teams units.
  1. Overview
  2. Analysis
Overview

Harris became accustomed to being moved around during his collegiate career. Based on what professional teams are saying, he should expect to be moving again in the National Football League. He joined the Sooners program as a free safety in 2005, starting two games there as a freshman. In his second season, he moved around from free safety to nickel back, starting eight times.


As a junior, Harris shifted to strong safety, where he would earn 26 of his next 27 starts. When injuries depleted the linebacker corps depth in 2008, he again packed his bags and took over as the starting middle linebacker in the seventh game of his final campaign vs. Kansas. Postseason all-star action saw him utilized at weak-side outside linebacker, where scouts feel his hitting and tackling skills vs. the run might be better suited.


At Alexandria High School, Harris was rated the nation's fifth-best safety prospect by Rivals.com, seventh by College Football News and 11th by ESPN. The Scout.com All-Southeast choice added All-Central Louisiana and All-State honors as a senior. He was also named the state of Louisiana's unanimous Defensive Most Valuable Player.


Harris recorded 74 tackles and intercepted 11 passes, returning four for touchdowns his senior season, leading the school to consecutive state playoff appearances in his final two campaigns. He also returned punts and started on offense as a receiver. He finished his prep career holding the school records with 21 interceptions and nine interceptions that he returned for touchdowns. In addition to his exploits on the football field, he graduated with economic honors.


Always active in his local community, Harris displayed that work ethic off the field during his tenure at Oklahoma. He is a two-term president of Bridge Builders, an OU minority student organization focused on community service. Raised by his guardian, LaQuanda Harrell, he said the event that most shaped his life was "growing up without parents." He makes every effort in his spare time to interact with elementary school students, telling them of the importance of getting a good education.


Harris enrolled at Oklahoma in 2005 and unlike most freshmen in the OU program, he was immediately thrust into the action. He appeared in 10 games at free safety, forcing his way into the lineup for two contests. He recorded 16 tackles (8 solos), assisted on a sack and caused a fumble.


As a sophomore, Harris earned All-Big 12 Conference second-team honors from the league's coaches. He started five of the team's first 10 games at nickel back before finishing the year with three consecutive starts at free safety. He produced 68 tackles (40 solos), third-best on the team. He also had 2.5 sacks, seven stops for loss and five quarterback pressures. He broke up eight passes and paced the Sooners with four interceptions.


In 2007, Harris was named to the AFCA Good Works Team and was a semifinalist for the Wooden Citizenship Cup. He was nominated for the FWAA Courage Award and received first-team All-Big 12 Conference honors. He started 13 times at strong safety, delivering 74 tackles (50 solos) and 9.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage that included 3.5 sacks. He caused two fumbles, broke up seven passes and intercepted two others, returning one for a touchdown.


A finalist for the Rudy Award that honors Division I players who exemplify "character, courage, contribution and commitment as members of their team," the first-team All-Big 12 Conference and third-team All-American started 14 times, seeing action at strong safety and middle linebacker in 2008. He registered a career-high 75 tackles (47 solos), adding four stops behind the line of scrimmage. He caused three fumbles, recovered another, intercepted one pass and broke up six others.


High School

Attended Alexandria (La.) High School, playing football for head coach Butch Stroker...Rated the nation's fifth-best safety prospect by Rivals.com, seventh by College Football News and 11th by ESPN...The Scout.com All-Southeast choice added All-Central Louisiana and All-State honors as a senior...Named the state of Louisiana's unanimous Defensive Most Valuable Player...Recorded 74 tackles and intercepted 11 passes, returning four for touchdowns his senior season, leading the school to consecutive state playoff appearances in his final two campaigns...Also returned punts and started on offense as a receiver...Finished his prep career holding the school records with 21 interceptions and nine interceptions that he returned for touchdowns...In addition to his exploits on the football field, he graduated with economic honors.


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Analysis

Positives: Prototypical size for the position. ... Instinctive defender who reads the action well and is quick to close. ... Flashes explosiveness as a hitter. ... At least adequate lateral quickness to remain at safety and is an instinctive player who flows well, avoiding blockers to make the play. ... Reliable one-on-one tackler in the open field. ... Versatile defender has also seen time at nickel cornerback and free safety and is a mainstay on special teams. ... Started at middle linebacker in 2008 due to team injuries. ... Willing to take on blockers and has the lateral quickness and hand usage to meet, greet and discard blockers.


Negatives: Bit of a "tweener." ... Lacks the bulk to continue with the transition to linebacker and is a bit stiff in the hips for coverage. ... Physical, but struggled disengaging from blockers when playing middle linebacker as a senior. ... Questionable straight-line speed. ... At his best facing the quarterback and making plays downhill. ... Perfectly suited to Oklahoma's aggressive scheme, but could struggle if targeted in an NFL passing game.


Compares To: CATO JUNE, Houston -- Harris does not have the pass coverage ability of June, but both are more of a chase-and-trail type of linebacker who work better playing downhill and in the short-area pursuit than handling man coverage assignments. Like June, Harris will be limited to playing in a Cover-2 scheme. It is evident by his poor hip turn and marginal speed for the position that he will not be considered to be a strong safety by many teams.


Injury Report

2008: Sat out spring drills with a shoulder sprain.


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