While planning my offseason of film room articles on this Indianapolis Colts team, I asked the fans on social media what type of film content they would want to see this summer. The result of a fairly simple question was a ton of interesting ideas for articles. So, my idea for this new series that will run throughout his offseason is to base articles around my favorite questions I receive.
Our next question comes from Moady Jack (@Coady4TheColts) on Twitter:
"Thoughts on Demichael Harris making the team and what role he could have? He looked really good in his limited playing time last season"
I'd certainly agree with Jack that Harris was impressive in limited snaps this past season. So, in today's fan film room, I will take a look at a few things that Harris did well as a rookie and what he needs to do in order to make the team in 2021.
Despite playing just 83 offensive snaps last season, Harris had 16 touches for 125 yards in the few games that he was active. While that isn't overly impressive, it was interesting to me that he touched the ball on nearly 20% of his snaps as an undrafted rookie.
The main reason why he got so many looks on offense was due to the heavy usage of schemed touches for him. Harris played both running back and wide receiver in college for Southern Miss, and the Colts made good use of his skill set with the ball in his hands. This quick hand-off against the Baltimore Ravens produced a quick 16 yard chunk play.
The use of schemed touches ensured that Harris would not only get the ball, but that he would get it in prime play-making positions. Whether it was on a screen play or a reverse (like this clip below against the Green Bay Packers) Harris was able to create chunk plays in his limited opportunities. Six of his 16 touches last season went for over 10 yards.
Showcasing Some WR Skill
While a majority of his touches came through quick schemed opportunities, Harris did showcase his wide receiver chops a few times last year. This play against the Cincinnati Bengals is a good example of his potential as a slot receiver. It's nothing special but he is able to attack the outside of his man (who is playing inside leverage) for a nice gain up the sideline.
One of the most surprising and impressive plays of last season came from Harris on third and long against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football. Working out of a stacked release, Harris works vertical on his cornerback. Quarterback Philip Rivers saw the potential mismatch and fired in a perfect back-shoulder strike. Harris effortlessly turned and made the big reception like a veteran and the Colts eventually scored on the drive. These are the plays that Harris will have to make if he hopes to make this roster in 2021.
How Can He Make the 2021 Roster?
Harris had an impressive 2020 season, especially for a mid-season UDFA call up. Making the 2021 roster will be a tough challenge, though. With the return of Parris Campbell and the drafting of Michael Strachan, the available spots on the roster are dwindling.
That being said, I wouldn't count Harris out in this race. What he needs to do in training camp is either make enough plays as a receiver to beat out Strachan or Dezmon Patmon, or prove that he can be just as good of a special teamer as Ashton Dulin.
While the second option is the more likely route to making the roster, it will be tough to pass Dulin on special teams. Dulin has been a core four special teamer the last two seasons for the Colts, and is a player who can return and cover kicks at a high level. Harris did make one special teams tackle this past season but he is going to have to prove that he can play teams at a high level to pass Dulin on the depth chart.
Harris is the perfect example of why the NFL needs a minor league system. His skill set is so interesting and his flashes as a rookie are exciting. The issue is, he may not have the upside as a receiver or the ability on special teams yet to make this roster.
In a perfect world, the Colts could keep him in a minor league system and develop him to eventually be a roster player. Unfortunately, I just don't see it happening this year. Hopefully, he can stick around on the Colts' Practice Squad for another year in 2021 and jump up to the main roster when needed.
I do really like what Harris can do for this team and do think he has a chance to make this roster. Hopefully, he has an outstanding offseason and makes the decision easy for the Colts' front office.
Follow Zach on Twitter @ZachHicks2.