Out of all of the members of the Detroit Lions’ 2019 rookie class, this defensive player can provide leadership in the Motor City in his opening season.
There will be a lot of fresh faces on the 2019 Detroit Lions, and while a youth can be good for the organization, they could use a few more young leaders to help reach the playoffs again.
Leadership often comes from unlikely places, as is clearly the case with third round pick Will Harris. While the safety has only been able to legally buy alcohol for a small amount of time, it’s become apparent to general manager Bob Quinn that Harris can be more than a role player for Motor City.
Quinn told Rotoworld’s Josh Norris that Will’s leadership and passion for football really stood out at the Senior Bowl. He was even referred to as the heartbeat of his team. Harris has already made a good impression in Detroit. It certainly helps that his former head coach in Paul Pasqualoni is now his defensive coordinator.
Harris was a pretty highly-touted draft prospect mostly because of how versatile he is. He has experience as both a strong safety, free safety and nickel corner, as he’s a savvy football player who hits hard and always manages to be in the right place at the right time.
Speed and strength are the two physical characteristics that NFL teams look for in their safeties, and Harris proved to excel at both at the NFL combine, running an blazing 4.41 40-yard dash and placing in the top 10 in the bench press among the secondary with 20 reps, proving that he won’t get pushed around at the line of scrimmage by strong wide receivers.
Harris put up impressive numbers in his time with Boston College to back up his solid leadership strategies. In four years and 47 games, Harris racked up 225 total tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss, and five interceptions in his collegiate career.
It was looking like Tavon Wilson and Charles Washington were locks to back up projected starters Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker, but Harris might be able to throw a wrench and put his hat in the ring to provide the Detroit secondary with some much needed depth.
According to Tim Twentyman’s latest piece about the Detroit Lions, there are three defensive numbers from last season that the team needs to either keep steady or improve upon, and Harris can help better all of those numbers.
The Lions were ranked eleventh in the league with 43 sacks as a team, and using Harris’ speed to have him rush off the edge should allow that number to increase by more than a few sacks.
What is more impressive is that the Lions ranked 2nd in the league with 3.76 yards per rush allowed in the second half of the season. Hopefully that trend can continue with Harris on the roster, as he excelled at Boston College when he could use his elite agility to find the ball carrier and stuff them.
One of the few things that the Lions were the best in the league last season was in percentage of yards gained after the catch from an opponent’s total passing yards, as the Lions bested the other 31 teams in the league at 38.7 percent. This means that Detroit was one of the best tackling teams in the league, and adding a talented tackler in Harris should keep that percentage towards the top in the league.
Perhaps the most important fact about Harris that is telling of success is the fact that his father played for Mississippi State and was drafted by Buffalo in the seventh round in 1993. Football runs in his bloodlines; he knows how to excel in a professional atmosphere with his dad to look up to, and his dad’s work ethic clearly rubbed off on him.
While Will Harris may start the season as a special teams contributor, Detroit Lions fans shouldn’t be shocked if Harris can earning some time at either safety spot come the midway point of next season.