With the Eagles struggles at right cornerback having been well documented, it seems very logical that they would go in the direction of corner at this year’s draft. The draft is the way the Eagles have built their previous two dynamic secondaries in the past decade that lifted them to unprecedented success in team history.
Brian Dawkins, Bobby Taylor, Lito Sheppard, Sheldon Brown, and Michael Lewis were all early draft choices of the Birds in the past 15 years, and all went on to become Pro Bowl players during their time in Philly.
Right corner was one of the most glaring issues with the Eagles defense last year, as it is clear that Dmitri Patterson cannot handle starting duties in the NFL on the outside. The Birds also tried moving Joselio Hanson to the outside a few times throughout the season, and while he was an improvement, it is clear that his place on this defense is at the nickel spot. That brings us to Ndami…oh wait, this is a draft piece, so we’ll just hold off on that one for a little.
If the Birds fail to lure the “cornerback-who-shall-not-be-named” to the City of Brotherly Love (or if they simply cannot due to the CBA situation), then their focus in the first round should turn to corner, no matter where they end up picking. Since I cannot predict future trades, I’ll go with what I know: Andy Reid and Co. are scheduled to draft 23rd overall with their first pick. So, we’ll take a look at one of the cornerbacks who could be available at that spot in Brandon Harris out of “Da U”.
Harris was a two-year player at the University of Miami who played in all 26 games in his two seasons as a member of the Hurricanes. There is a lot to like about this kid. He is ranked as the 5th best corner in this year’s draft by ESPN.com, and 36th overall.
First, he scares the hell out of opposing offensive coordinators, which is obviously a good thing. Teams rarely threw his way this past season, as they were aware of the damage he can do with the ball in the air.
When they tried to run at him to wear him out, he showed solid tackling skills and good support from the second level. Being 5’9” and almost 200 pounds, he definitely has the size to be a solid run-supporter in the NFL who won’t get pushed around.
Harris is also a great cover corner. He is a phenomenal athlete who has pretty good footwork. He has above average speed (4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine), but he does a terrific job of catching up to balls in the air with his wheels, and he doesn’t take it for granted by getting lazy. He does a fairly nice job in bump-and-run coverage, but must improve this aspect of his game at the next level, which he should be more than capable of due to his size.
The most impressive thing about Harris is how hard he works off the field. He has always been known to have a tremendous work ethic both in the weight room and in the classroom. He was an ACC All-Academic team member in 2008, which requires a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0 (his actual GPA is not published, but this gives us a good guess). If you’ve read anything in the past by me, you know how much I love intelligence and savvy in my athletes, and Harris falls right in that category.
As a prospect, the chic words you will hear analysts use about Harris will be “safe pick” and “low ceiling/low risk”. These may be true, but there is something to be said for a kid with firstst round talent who just goes out and does his job every week, while never having any trouble off of it.
This is a guy who the Eagles should be thrilled to have the chance to grab with the 23rd choice this year, and he is someone who can come in and start right away opposite Asante Samuel. I’m a buyer, and I hope the Eagles’ brass is as well.