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Scouting OLB Charles Harris

Former NFL scout Daniel Kelly provides his scouting report on Detroit Lions outside linebacker Charles Harris.

On average, 53 percent of first-rounders are a bust, and to date, it has been a rough road for defensive end/outside linebacker Charles Harris. 

Back in 2017, Harris was the No. 22 overall pick for the Miami Dolphins out of Missouri. Now, he is on a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions, and he is on his third different team in five seasons. 

There was also a stop, in between Miami and Detroit, with Atlanta last season when the Falcons traded a seventh-round draft pick for this tweener who has not lived up to the bill yet. 

Despite putting up a career-high three sacks last season, it was not enough for the Falcons, and they let him walk. If hearing that three sacks was his career high caught your attention, wait until you hear he has only put up 6.5 total sacks during his entire NFL career. 

Harris has not missed all sorts of time with injuries, either (he has played in 54-of-64 total possible games).  

While he is not really a bust since he is not out of the league, it is safe to say he has not lived up to expectations. Harris has also only logged 42 career tackles and 37 assists, as well. 

How can this happen to a player who was selected in the first round? 

Easy -- he has the type of upper-echelon playing speed, short-area burst and athleticism that shines while running around little orange cones in workouts. Scouts like to label guys like this as "workout warriors." These are guys who look a lot better running around in gym shorts than they do in pads.  

The real problem is that Harris lacks the kind of playing strength and explosiveness that is needed to beat offensive linemen at the point of attack. That is like the Tigers having a baseball player who has a great-looking swing, but he always strikes out. 

So, we are left with a player Miami severely overvalued and a couple teams who have been willing to take a flyer because Harris still has these coveted attributes.  

The Lions are the latest team to take that chance, as they and others will continue to convince themselves they can "get it out of him." The odds are, though, that nobody will be able to, unless they scheme him very differently. Continuing to do the same thing with him and expecting a different result is quite simply the definition of insanity. 

I will say to the defense of the Lions' front office, when I turned on his 22 plays for Atlanta in 2020 and his 36 plays for Miami on NFL Gamepass, I was pleasantly surprised how good this 26-year-old looked at times.  


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#53 OLB Charles Harris - 6-foot-3, 236 pounds  

Grade: C+ (average) 

Scouting Report 

Athletic tweener, with good playing speed and short-area burst. But, he lacks playing strength and explosiveness to beat blockers. Played often with his hand in the dirt the past two seasons, but has occasionally lined up standing up at times. Looks soft, and does not pack a punch -- no real pop or jolt. Ties up too easily with offensive tackles. Best when freed up or manages to get free. He just is not beating blockers unless it is with his speed through the back door. That is his best - - and only - - chance when matched up. No pass-rush moves shown. Uses hands, but a very raw pass-rusher. 

Engages against the run, and shows the ability to come off blocks laterally and make hard-wrapping tackles. Excels at chasing down backs, receivers and quarterbacks in the open field. Hunts and tracks down very well when freelancing. Can drop into short zones, and can deflect a couple of passes. But, he's too tight to be a coverage linebacker. Gives solid effort, but lacks certain must-haves to be a quality starter.  

Harris signed early with Detroit when the 2021 free-agency period opened. He only lasted two days on the free-agent market. 

He probably will not see the field on defense a whole lot -- barring injuries and maybe in obvious passing situations.  

I would not be surprised to see Harris star on special teams, given his aforementioned attributes. And, he possibly could be better than expected, if new Lions defensive coordinator Aaron Glenn figures out how to scheme him differently than Miami and Atlanta did.  

If not, expect Harris to pack his bags and be playing for his fourth team in six seasons in 2022.

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