If everything goes right, Will Harris’ NFL career will last another decade. And as the second-year safety looks ahead, he can only hope his career will resemble that of current teammate and NFL seven-year veteran Duron Harmon.
“If I could look back at it seven, eight years from now, and I have a career like his, that would be a blessing,” Harris told media in a Zoom call on Thursday.
So in order to make that dream a reality, Harris has latched onto the former Patriots safety, almost obsessively. Or, in his words, he’s “in his left pocket everywhere he goes.” And what, exactly is he hoping to learn from Harmon?
“Anything I can,” Harris said. “I tell him every day, ‘I’m just biting stuff off of you, man.’ Whatever I can learn from that guy, man. He’s had such a successful career, he’s been a playmaker in so many big games, and he’s been doing it consistently for a long period of time. So anything I can learn from him, I’m all ears.”
There may not be a more ideal player from which to learn. Not only is Harmon obviously well-versed in head coach Matt Patricia’s defense—having spent five years with him as a defensive coordinator in Foxborough—but he’s thrived as a third safety, a role Harris will likely have behind Harmon and Tracy Walker. In the past three seasons alone, Harmon has notched 10 interceptions despite playing only around 60 percent of the snaps each season.
And that is not even taking into account the leadership Harmon is providing already, just a couple weeks into his first time in the Lions practice facility.
“Having him there in the locker room is amazing,” Harris said. “Aside from the fact that he’s a stand-up guy, a phenomenal guy, and was at the forefront of when we had that demonstration at the front of the building. He’s always at the forefront, a tremendous leader. So I’m just learning from him as we go along.”
Harris went through some early struggles last season. Injuries forced him into the lineup as a rookie. He admits looking back on the tape from last season, he wasn’t trusting himself enough.
“I knew what I was doing, but at the same time—and this came over time—(I was) kind of thinking too much, not wanting to mess up more than I wanted to make plays,” Harris said.
But as the season went on, Harris saw improvement in himself. He started to trust his eyes, trust his feet. He wasn’t just seeing what was happening in front of him, he was seeing what was going to happen.
“It was a learning process, and as we got deeper and deeper into the season, I was able to see things more quickly, play the game more quickly and see things more clearly, and, more importantly, see things before they happen,” Harris said.
He’s hoping to carry on that experience, build on top of it with some help from Harmon, and show that he’s not just a player entering his sophomore season.
“It doesn’t even feel like my second year. It feels like my third or fourth year, honestly.”