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Defensive End Prospect Could Bring a New Dynamic to Cowboys Defense
Photo Credit:: stltoday.com
Missouri Tiger junior weak-side defensive end, Charles Harris, had quite a college career in the SEC. Between 2014-2016 Harris tallied 136 total tackles, 34.5 tackles for loss, and 18 sacks in his three-year career at Missouri. The underclassman is currently mocked to be selected in the bottom half of the first round of the 2017 NFL draft.
The Dallas Cowboys desperately need to improve their defensive line. Tyrone Crawford is the current sack leader for the Cowboys with 4.5 through 13 games. The Dallas defensive line is starting to heat up in December, but they still lack a premium pass rusher that can consistently wreak havoc on the quarterback.
Charles Harris may be that guy, and drafting a pass rusher like Harris would allow Demarcus Lawrence to transition back to his natural position at left end. Randy Gregory was expected to be the type of premium pass rusher the Dallas Cowboys covet at the weak-side defensive end position, but he is currently working to appeal his third possible suspension that would force him out of the entire 2017 season.
Here is a glimpse of a Pro Football Focus piece on Charles Harris before the 2016 season.
What impresses the most about Harris is that for a player who has been a starter for just one year, he beats blockers in a variety of ways. Of the 37 sacks, hits and hurries he registered by beating a tight end, offensive tackle or guard last year, 19 were won outside, 14 inside, and four via a bull rush. On top of that, there were nine times where he used a spin move out of either an initial inside or outside move to beat his man, like he did in the play below against South Carolina left tackle, Brandon Shell.
As good as Harris was, there are still some things he needs to do better as a junior to elevate himself above Ray and Golden. His run defense improved from his freshman to sophomore seasons, jumping from -2.5 in 2015 to +11.9 in 2015. He can still get a lot better as a run defender, though, with his 27 tackles resulting in a defensive stop on 336 snaps in run defense giving him a run stop percentage of 8.0 percent, 24th among 4-3 defensive ends in the nation a year ago. What’s encouraging is that he took a significant step forward from 2014 to 2015, and a similar jump would solidify his case for being one of the best all-around defensive linemen in college football.
The other thing Harris has to improve upon is his consistency. There’s no denying his sophomore year was impressive, but he seemed to tire late in the year. In the final three games, he graded negatively twice, including a season-worst grade of -2.4 against Arkansas to end the year, registering just seven total pressures in those three games. How good he was over the eight-game stretch that saw him rack up seven sacks, 11 hits and 27 hurries and a monster PFF grade was impressive, but he was almost anonymous in the season opener and those final three games.
For him to etch his name among the great Missouri defensive ends in recent years, he needs to find a way to stay productive throughout the year. The Tigers expect a lot out of their defensive ends, and Harris is almost guaranteed to play somewhere in the region of 700-800 snaps again this year. If he can improve again as he did from his freshman to sophomore years, we could be gearing up to see something really special.
Charles Harris finished the college regular season with 61 total tackles, 12 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks through 12 games. The Dallas Cowboys would be ecstatic to have a disruptive defensive end fall to them in the bottom half of the first round in this year's draft.
Mike Walker is a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan that writes for PFS. Follow him on twitter @MikeWalkerPFS
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