Shelby Harris could be on the brink of stardom. At least, that's what NFL.com's Chris Wesseling believes.
In a recent article predicting seven new All-Pro players in 2019, Wesseling pinpointed the Denver Broncos' starting nose tackle as one of the darkhorses, saying:
Sometimes the million-to-one shot pays off. This projection is a considerable reach, a flight of fancy based on Harris' flashes of dominance, Vic Fangio's defensive brilliance and Pro Bowl defensive lineman Akiem Hicks' epiphany in Chicago. Hicks showed his own flashes of disruption with the Saints and Patriots before Fangio helped flip the switch that transformed him into one of the most productive interior defenders in the league. Albeit in part-time duty, Harris jumped off the film as a menace against the run as well as the pass in 2018. He picked up where he left off last season in the Broncos' "Monday Night Football" preseason Week 2 clash with 49ers, batting down a pass on each of the first two series. If Fangio turns him loose and doubles his snap count with Von Miller and Bradley Chubb bringing constant heat off the edge, this could be a fearsome trio at the heart of a rejuvenated Denver defense.
Shelby Harris has looked like one of the best players on the field in the few games the Broncos have exposed him to this summer. In that Niners game, Harris received just 13 snaps and it felt like he made an impact at the point of attack on almost every one.
From the tipped passes Wesseling highlights to the screen pass the 6-foot-2, 290-pound defensive tackle chased down, Harris was a wrecking ball. In a contract year and playing on a $3.095M restricted free-agent tender, the stars seem to be aligning for him.
For the first time in his career, the 28-year-old Harris is an unquestioned starter and it's coming at time where a convergence of factors could see the Broncos' DT skyrocket into the NFL stratosphere as Wesseling predicts. Behold:
- NT in a Fangio defense
- Talented supporting cast
- Contract year
I'd be stunned if Harris doesn't have a Pro Bowl-caliber year and makes himself some big money in 2020. Putting him on a darkhorse All-Pro watchlist isn't beyond the credible, which, considering his path to where he is today, is quite surprising.
Harris was a seventh-round pick of the Oakland Raiders' back in 2014. He spent two years with the Raiders before bouncing around the league, stopping with the Jets and Cowboys before landing with the Broncos in 2017.
Harris made an impact in Denver out of the gates, blocking what would have been the Chargers' game-winning field goal in Week 1 of 2017. He has since made many high-impact plays, and even finished second on the team in sacks in his first year in Denver, totaling 5.5 QB takedowns.
Fans can remember the game-clinching interception from Week 12 last year, when Harris picked off Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone and helped the Broncos upset the Steelers.
Harris has been a depth player up to this point but by all indications, he's ready for a bigger seat at the table and could be the Broncos' breakout player of the year, at least on the defensive side of the ball.
Follow Chad on Twitter @ChadNJensen.