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Instant analysis on Lions 3rd-round pick: DB Will Harris

A breakdown of the Lions’ newest safety.

NCAA Football: Wake Forest at Boston College Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions made their third-round selection and it was a bit more conventional than their second. Boston College’s Will Harris is a name many were familiar with, and several had a Day 2 or early Day 3 grade on him.

The Lions obviously had a lot of familiarity with Harris, seeing as defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni was coaching at Boston College—albeit the defensive line—during Harris’ sophomore and junior years. General manager Bob Quinn said he personally scouted Harris a few times, watching a BC practice during the season, seeing as it’s close to home.

The thing that sticks out the most with Harris is his fantastic athletic profile. Harris is long, tall and incredibly quick:

With those athletic traits, Harris also brings a willingness to get his hands dirty and a high-football character, seeing as he was voted team captain his senior year. He, like many of the players the Lions are infatuated with, is a run defender first, finishing with 158 tackles in his final two years at BC.

However, he does appear to struggle in coverage a bit. He only had two passes defended in his final two seasons at BC.

That being said, Harris suddenly give the Lions a ton of versatility in the secondary. His length and size, combined with the diverse talent that both Quandre Diggs and Tracy Walker, gives the Lions the opportunity to play around with matchups, depending on their opponent’s players and formations.

In his Day 2 press conference, Bob Quinn mentioned that Harris’ special teams ability made him a more attractive pick, specifically praising some of his special teams tape going back to his sophomore seasons. It’s fair to say Harris will make an immediate on special teams and could even find the field on defense early in specific packages.

Here’s what our friends at BC Interruption had to say about Harris:

There is a lot to like about Will Harris. As a safety he can play both positions, and has the physical knack that a lot of NFL teams like in their secondary. He flies all around the field to make plays, and can deliver the lumber closing on either a wide receiver or tight end. In fact his physicality and size make him a good matchup against the modern tight ends popular in the NFL. He has great football instincts, and there are hardly any plays that he gets gobbled up or loses containment/coverage. Finally, he plays on special teams as well, and for a safety rated like he is, that is going to get some team to take a chance on him.

However, NFL scouts do have some concerns about Harris. While he is instinctual and doesn’t allow many big plays, he isn’t a guy that college quarterbacks avoided. He finished at BC as a good safety, but not one that made tons of “big plays”. Coaches that are looking for safeties that can be explosive, and can make a huge play may be turned off by his lack of production at the college level. Now that is not to say Harris can’t be a ball hawk, he just hasn’t shown it yet.


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