Missouri defensive end Charles Harris intends to apply for early eligibility into the 2017 NFL Draft, making himself next up in an impressive lineage of defensive line draft prospects from the school.
Harris announced his intentions at a press conference on Thursday.
"I came in at a great time when the D-line crew was really erupting. I had a great group in front me me, Markus Golden, Shane Ray, Kony Ealy, Michael Sam. The list goes on, but I came in at a great time," Harris said, per Powermizzou.com's Gabe DeArmond. "I received a lot of feedback from guys that cultivated me and really taught me their ways."
Harris is undersized for an NFL defensive end at 6-foot-3, 260 pounds, but his explosive first step and ability to shed blocks quickly has made him the most disruptive presence in the Missouri defensive front over the last two years. Missouri defensive linemen have accounted for three first-round draft picks since 2011 -- Aldon Smith, Sheldon Richardson and Ray -- plus second-rounders such as Ealy and Golden. Harris wasn't shy about putting himself in that class over the summer at SEC Media Days, projecting himself as a first-round pick with a style similar to that of Denver Broncos star Von Miller.
NFL clubs in need of pass rush help could find Harris as an attractive option. Harris received a second-round grade from the NFL Draft Advisory Committee a year ago, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but opted to return to MU for another season.
The fourth-year junior struggled with a change in the Tigers' defensive scheme this season that emphasized gap control over penetration. In fact, he said earlier this month that the change gave him concerns about how his draft stock might be affected, but his production spiked when coach Barry Odom decided to return to a more attacking style up front. He made nine sacks on the season, 5.5 of them in November.
The deadline for underclassmen to apply for early draft eligibility is Jan. 16.
Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.