Demetrius Harris Can Lend More Than a Hand to Bears Offense
Not long after the Bears signed Demetrius Harris, general manager Ryan Pace and coach Matt Nagy sang the tight end's praises as a potential red zone target and even a blocker.
The blocking seems unlikely at 6-foot-7 and just 230 pounds, but they insisted he is more than a former college basketball player and pass catcher in the red zone.
"Demetrius has strengths in the blocking aspect so we think he's still getting better," Pace said. "We think he can kind of flourish in the scheme that we have but I think the background of the player and the person helped us a lot with that acquisition.
It's the receiving end where Harris actually must improve.
Harris has dropped passes at an alarming rate, an even higher level than chronic pass droppers like Steelers tight end Eric Ebron.
Harris had four drops in 2018 with the Chiefs and five last year in Cleveland. It might not sound like much when compared to Ebron's nine in 2018. But Harris only was targeted 25 targets with Kansas City in 2018 and dropped 16% of the passes coming his way. In 2019 he dropped five throws in 27 targets or 18.5%.
Being a consistent, reliable red-zone threat with such a high drop level seems unlikely unless he has great improvement within this offense he finds familiar.
Harris hasn't had a starter's role but has played enough to cause doubt he'll improve drastically with more playing time. He has been in the offense between 34% and 53% of the snaps in the last five seasons.
With Cole Kmet coming into the Y tight end position, Harris is expected to be a part-time player and possibly a bridge player.
Even in this role the Bears can't have dropped passes.
The hands issue is surprising considering his background as a former college basketball player who never played football. The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee basketball player worked out with the Milwaukee Panthers club team at Wisconsin-Milwaukee and drew some interest from the Chiefs, Ravens and Cowboys before signing in Kansas City.
His early career was spotty due to a broken foot and he never ascended after carving out a niche on the team in 2016 and 2017 when Nagy was still with the Chiefs.
Even with the drops his catch percentage has been between 55.6% and 63.6% since 2015, which is average
If Kansas City's offense found a way to use him, the Bears should also be able to find a use for him.
Demetrius Harris at a Glance
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee TE
Key Numbers: Harris has made between 12 and 18 receptions over each of the last four seasons.
Chances to Make Roster: 4 on a 1-5 scale with 5 being the most.
2020 Projection: 14 receptions for 149 yards with 2 touchdowns.