Harris came to the game late, not putting on a football jersey until his junior year of high school. It didn't take him long to figure it out, however. His athleticism earned him a scholarship from his in-state university, though he redshirted his first year on campus to work on his game while guys like Shane Ray, Markus Golden, and Michael Sam were chasing quarterbacks. As a reserve, Harris had four tackles for loss and two sacks, starting once while Golden was injured. His breakout season came in 2015, as he garnered second-team All-SEC honors after leading the conference with 18.5 tackles for loss (seven sacks). League coaches voted him second-team all-conference again in 2016 (12 tackles for loss, nine sacks), despite his team's poor 4-8 season.
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.
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. Needs earlier shoulder turn as rusher to prevent early pass sets from punching him as squared-up rusher. Slow to activate his counter spin back inside. More violent approach with hands at top of his rush would help grease the edge. Productivity dropped after struggling with new defensive scheme.
Sources Tell Us
"Don't get caught up in his numbers this year. He just didn't mesh with what they asked him to do. He's also got to be coachable and I think he may have fought the changes a little too much. What I saw in 2015 is what I think he's going to be." NFC North regional scout
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 or 3-4 front and should be the next in a line of early contributing defensive ends coming out of Missouri.