2017 NFL draft prospect countdown, No. 39: Charles Harris, DE/OLB, Missouri
What you need to know: The 6' 2", 256-pounder is the latest in an ever-growing line of Mizzou pass rushers—names like Kony Ealy, Aldon Smith, Shane Ray and Justin Smith came before Harris. As it stands, Harris ranks tied for seventh all-time on the school’s career sacks list with 18.0 career sacks, and he likely would have leapfrogged all but ex-Tiger Brian Smith in that category had he returned for his senior season. His 9.0 sacks and 12.0 tackles for loss last season were good enough to land Harris All-SEC second-team honors, along with Myles Garrett and Carl Lawson. Of those nine sacks, 7.5 came in three games (Georgia, Vanderbilt, South Carolina). Harris had 18.5 tackles for loss in 2015, behind only Garrett (20.0) in the conference.
Strengths: Harris is as aggressive as you’ll see a pass rusher be when it comes to timing the snap. He has an incredible knack for getting a jump, although it is fair to wonder if he can keep it up against NFL quarterbacks—be prepared for offsides flags. When he does get that first step, Harris is extremely hard to corral because of his speed and bend.
Harris’s spin move—already killer when he times it well—has a chance to be truly special. Better yet, it’s not just a one-note spin—he can 360 toward his inside shoulder when working the edge, but he also can work inside-out. One example of the latter: Against Vanderbilt this year, Harris stunted toward the A-gap, spun back between the guard and center and forced an incompletion.
The motor is a plus for Harris, too. He cranks it up at the snap and continues to pursue plays, regardless of how far away the action rolls. Many of his pressures and tackles came on extended action.
The combine was a mixed bag for Harris (more on that in the "Weaknesses" section), but he was brilliant in linebacker coverage drills. He covers a lot of ground with his stride, and he has natural movements dropping and turning. Harris showed a decent baseline when asked to drop at Missouri.
Weaknesses: Let’s get right into that combine showing. Drills? Good. Testing? Ehhhh. Per MockDraftables, which tracks combine data dating back to 1999, Harris ranked in the 54th percentile with his 40 time (4.82) but was below the 50% line in everything else among edge defenders. His height/weight/arm length combo (6' 2", 256 pounds, 32 3/8") definitely profiles more like a linebacker than a DE.
No matter his positional designation, Harris will have to improve against the run if he’s going to be a three-down player. If his rapidity doesn’t provide him an advantage off the snap, offensive tackles can overwhelm him—teams will not mind running right at him if he doesn’t play with more strength. He does not shed a lot of blocks at initial contact.
The 2016 season served almost as a "what to avoid" tutorial for Harris. Missouri dialed back his freedom to fly around, but he’s not really built to plug gaps and set up his teammates for tackles. In that regard, he could be scheme-limited as an NFL prospect.
NFL player comparison: Jerry Hughes