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Redskins Combine Countdown: Virginia safety Anthony Harris

Feb 11, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT


The NFL Combine gets underway in Indianapolis in just 7 days. I will be there and in between now and then I’ll be doing a lot of work getting up to speed on the draft class of 2015. Along the way I’ll be sharing some of what I find out with Real Redskins readers. The focus will be on players in areas of need for the Redskins but I might look at players at just about any position since Scot McCloughan has said that he will take the best player available regardless of need.

Anthony Harris


Height: 6-1
Weight: 190

What they’re saying:

STRENGTHS: At 6-1, Harris has a lean, wiry frame with long arms and nice proportion throughout. He makes good breaks on the ball with a strong first step despite his long-striding run style, and has quick hips and a second gear to recover over the top when plays go vertical.

WEAKNESSES: Despite the durability Harris showed at Virginia, his lanky frame looks better suited to cornerback or even wide receiver than safety. He isn’t an intimidating hitter over the middle and resorts to ankle tackling, at times — though to his credit, he’s a generally reliable open-field tackler.

Derek Stephens and Rob Rang, CBS Sports

How he fits the Redskins: I wrote about the possibility of Harris being the Redskins’ starting strong safety at some point during the 2015 season. The position is a major need for the Redskins and Harris could be sharp enough to get up to speed in time to start at some point during his rookie year. Harris logged plenty of playing time at Virginia, seeing substantial action as a freshman and becoming the starter his last three years there.

At 6-1, he’s probably just about at the bottom end of the height that Scot McCloughan is looking for in a safety. Some analysts think he’s better at free safety, some prefer him at strong. As the NFL often requires players to be adept at both, that versatility could be a good thing.

Potential issues: The other side of the size coin is the “lanky” description. Can he add on weight and still move as well? If he plays smaller than his height he won’t fit into McCloughan’s long-term vision for a “Legion of Boom” sized backfield.

Bottom line: It’s tough to rely on any draft pick to start as a rookie, especially on picked after the first round. The second round might be a reach for Harris; the third is likely where his value is. Out of 36 third-round picks in 2014, just nine started at least half of their teams’ games as rookies. Having the pick earlier in the round does help. Four of the players who had eight or more starts were picked in the top 10 selections in the round.

If McCloughan is going to pick Harris in the third round it’s going to be because he thinks he is the best player on the board at the time and that he will be a good player in 2016 and beyond. An immediate need at safety won’t drive the pick.

But sometimes a draft pick steps up when you don’t expect him to, like Bashaud Breeland did in 2014. If the Redskins do take Harris it wouldn’t be shocking to see him as a major contributor by the time the year is out.

Previously in Combine Countdown:

  1. captblood3000 - Feb 11, 2015 at 4:51 PM

    I recall Chase Minnifield shrinking 2 inches when he got to the Combine. Let’s hope that doesn’t to Harris. They’re both UVa products.

    • captblood3000 - Feb 11, 2015 at 4:52 PM

      Insert “happen”

  2. ET - Feb 11, 2015 at 5:04 PM

    Harris has looked great for UVa. Unfortunately, the Skins’ acquisitions from my alma mater have been underwhelming, so color me skeptical (but cautiously optimistic if he’s a mid-to-late round pick).

  3. thirdistheworrd - Feb 11, 2015 at 7:21 PM

    The most important thing Rich points out here is Harris’ third round value. Landon Collins will be a top ten pick, but below that the 2015 safety class is simultaneously deep and average. Anthony Harris, Gerrod Holliman, Durell Eskridge, Cody Prewitt, and about four other guys all float around in the late 2nd to mid 4th round range. The odds are pretty good that, of these B-Grade safeties, at least one will be very good, and four will be passable starters. Hopefully McCloughan will be able to do his homework and pick us out a winner or two from that fishing hole.

    • Joe Greene - Feb 12, 2015 at 5:18 AM

      I’ll take Harris, Holliman, Eskridge, Prewitt, Drumond and more over Collins every day of the week with Landon’s bad coverage skills.

      • shermanp79 - Feb 12, 2015 at 10:09 AM

        Landon wasn’t really asked to cover in that scheme, some believe he has improved and will continue. Now I would prefer to take a S later if that is going to be a risk and he is better suited for SS. You don’t take them in the top of the first round but he may turn out to be a better cover guy than some say.

    • bangkokben - Feb 12, 2015 at 9:16 AM

      Rewind a few years back and the ‘skins drafted Laron Landry – now available again – with the 6th pick and Eric Weddell was taken at 37th by San Diego. McCloughan’s 49ers took Dashon Goldson in the 4th round with the 126th pick. I think we can all settle for whomever the GM takes.

      • shermanp79 - Feb 12, 2015 at 10:11 AM

        What you are saying is he can find a ProBowl S in the later rounds.

        • bangkokben - Feb 12, 2015 at 10:18 AM

          I”m saying he did. He has history. The ‘skins also have history of drafting safety too high in the draft. Of course had Taylor lived then Landry is probably excelling in Burgandy and Gold. Taylor’s death and Griffin’s knee injury have been huge dominoes in this organizations success. Hopefully McCloughan doesn’t have such obstacles. Throw in the uncapped year’s consequences and maybe we’re overachieving. Nah! Had you there for a second.

  4. shermanp79 - Feb 12, 2015 at 10:05 AM

    I think he is too small, especially if he is going to play SS. I don’t think we should be getting a stop gap player in the 3rd round. We should be looking for an eventual starter, wait for better value for the type of guy we want. If he can’t put weight on, then he is going to get hurt unless he moves to corner. It sounds like he tackles more like one anyway.

    • captblood3000 - Feb 12, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      That’s one reason why they weigh and measure these guys at the Combine. Harris should be spending his available time in the weight room. Don’t be surprised if the Redskins take him at #70 and especially in the 4th round. One reason behind the Amerson pick was that he might play free safety as well as corner. With Harris, you would have a guy who can play either safety position as well as nickel corner. He gives you more options when acquire other pieces of the puzzle. Archives

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