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Cleveland Browns Comprehensive NFL Draft Review: Nick Harris, C Washington

The Cleveland Browns used the 160th pick in the NFL Draft to select Nick Harris, center from Washington. His skill set, both athletically and in terms of what he's done on tape suggest he can be a long term center option.
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With the 160th pick of the 2020 NFL Draft, acquired when the Cleveland Browns traded down from 41st pick to 44th pick, the team selected Nick Harris, center from Washington. After initially being a player intended to redshirt as a freshman, he played in the team's first game against Rutgers and ended up starting at right guard as the team defeated Colorado for the PAC-12 championship and then in the playoff loss in the Peach Bowl against Alabama.

After another full season at guard in 2017, Harris made the move to center for 2018 and 2019, starting 25 out of those 27 games. Harris was named All-American 2nd-Team by Sports Illustrated and earned All-PAC 12 1st-Team for his performance in the 2019 season.

Athletic Profile

Age: 21 (Born November 13th, 1998)

Height: 6' 7/8"

Weight: 302 lbs

40-yard dash: 5.1

Broad Jump: 103"

Vertical Jump: 29.5"

3-cone: DNP

Shuttle: DNP

Bench: 20 reps

Nick Harris Athleticism

Nick Harris performed well in the areas he tested. His speed and explosion did quite well and on tape, it shows. He is built like a fire hydrant with thick legs, but he can get off the line and shows good movement skills particularly going forward. 

Harris did not test agility, so his athletic profile is incomplete. However, on tape, his ankles are excellent and he looks like someone who could've put up a good number on the shuttle. The three-cone is more of a mystery as it's difficult to tell how he would have done there.

Overall, it's not difficult to see why the Browns liked Harris for the offense they are trying to run. His age also works in his favor, being just 21 years old entering the NFL as a pretty good athlete. Harris should hopefully be able to continue getting stronger in the NFL.

Specifically as it relates to the Browns, athleticism is important at the center position. J.C. Tretter was an excellent athlete coming out of Cornell. They also signed Evan Brown in free agency to complete at that position, who was another great athlete coming out of Southern Methodist. The Browns value athleticism at the center position, but in general, athleticism might be the least indicative for success at center than any other position. It's just imperative for what the Browns want to do offensively.

Game Tape

Harris is remarkably nimble on tape, particularly working laterally. He's quick and plays with a ton of energy, always working to improve his position with his feet or driving them through the whistle. 

His unique skill set allowed the Huskies to run a number of concepts plenty of teams don't utilize, including pulling the center to lead block on sweeps and having guards and tackles block inside on pass pro while the center kicks out to take out the end man on the line. Basically, Washington's coaching staff found most every way they could to maximize Harris in their offense.

Harris plays with good leverage, uses his thick legs to uproot and drive opponents out of the play in the running game. He has a nasty demeanor and a finishing mentality, looking to drive opponents into the ground. Harris has a great punch that can stun opponents. He's pretty consistent with timing it and landing it, which can enable him to win the rep immediately, then use the rest of the play to either sustain or dominate.

When it comes to pass pro, Harris's lack of length can hurt him against bigger, longer defensive linemen. He will occasionally get overwhelmed and they can use their length to slip past him or keep him from landing his punch cleanly. It doesn't happen often, but size has proven to give him the most trouble.

Meanwhile, he does a fantastic job when it comes to blocking smaller, quicker players or moving targets. On screens or climbing to the second level, he's aggressive without putting himself off balance or overextending. He doesn't lunge or try to throw his body at them. Harris simply lands the block and keeps working, understanding that he's stronger than the opponent and it won't take much to make them go down. 

And Harris doesn't settle for just landing the block, but is always looking to maximize his position and finish. There are a handful of plays in every game that could be used as teaching tape, because he does it so effectively, enabling explosive plays in the run or screen game.

Fit, Usage and Projection with the Browns

Harris seems ideal for a developmental center behind J.C. Tretter. It's difficult to imagine a better situation for a player than to learn from both Tretter and offensive line coach Bill Callahan. Harris will be in a battle with Evan Brown for the backup center spot and depending on how they decide to lay out their roster, the loser could be released with the intent of making the practice squad to then be activated on gameday.

Harris will likely get his chance to also work as a backup guard, but that might be a really difficult proposition. He's got a lot of ability but his lack of size could prove too difficult a hurdle to overcome right now. With additional strength on his frame combined with the technical prowess he has, that could be a possible outcome in years two and three, but at least for now, he looks like a center only.

From a projection standpoint, Harris has the potential to be the center to take over for Tretter. Tretter has a three-year deal and there's every reason to believe he will be able to play those three years and perhaps longer, but Harris could be a player that gets a second contract as he takes over the starting job. Harris has the tools and talent to be a good player in the NFL for a long time, but much like Tretter, may not get the accolades he may deserve in the end.

The Rest of The Browns 2020 Draft Class:

Jedrick Wills, OT Alabama

Grant Delpit, S LSU

Jacob Phillips, LB LSU

Jordan Elliot, DT Missouri

Harrison Bryant, TE Florida Atlantic

Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR Michigan