Sorry that I wasn't active last week guys. As promised however, I'm back with what will be my final first round profile. big_jay71 has moved onto into the second round and I will too following this post. To get back into form, here's a profile of a talented cornerback prospect that I'm sure many Steelers fans wouldn't mind seeing in Pittsburgh -- Brandon Harris from the University of Miami.
Weight: 191 lbs
DOB:Unknown for some reason
Projected NFL Position: Initially a Nickel CB/ Eventual #1 CB
Brandon Harris was a highly touted recruit out of high school when he signed on with Miami, and after a bumpy transition to the college level, he really put it together in his sophomore and junior season. At the current time, Harris is being hailed as one of the better corners in the 2011 class, despite forgoing his senior season at Miami. This was likely due the coaching change after the firing of Randy Shannon. Harris is said to be a great worker and possesses and intense and competitive drive that shows on the football field.
I will say that he needs to tone down on post-play celebrations. He's not too bad most of the time but he did get a penalty following this interception for excessive celebration. That will last about all of two seconds on a Dick LeBeau-run defense. Still, Harris brings an intensity and a work-ethic that is coveted by the organization, and is a player who's dealt with personal tragedy before when his teammate Jasper Howard was tragically murdered back in 2009. Looking at his interviews he does not strike me as arrogant or an ass, so I think there are no real concerns on character moving forward.
Harris is a cover corner first and foremost, but even though he's a tad shorter than some people would like he does not lack in physicality in any aspect of his game. At times, he's shown the ability to be an elite man-to-man cover corner. Among his assets he possesses very good speed and a knack for batting passes away. Despite having an ok 35.5 inch vertical (walterfootball.com) this does not necessarily translate to the grid iron as it seems that bigger receivers are the most successful against him. This highlight, and the game Michael Floyd enjoyed against Harris in the 2011 Sun Bowl are both indicators that Harris may struggle against guys 6'2"+ at the next level. He did completely shut down Jonathan Baldwin (Baldwin did drop a tough TD catch) in the Miami-Pitt game this past football season (Highlights of Harris in that game posted below), but that also may of had to do with the complete lack of talent at the QB position for the Panthers this year.
While he may be on the short side, Harris shows no hesitation and no fear against the run, which to me at least, contrasts directly with Jimmy Smith, who, despite being about 5 inches and 20 pounds heavier than Harris, looks really soft against the ground game. I think that speaks volumes about how much of a competitor Harris is, but while he may have the effort and heart, his tackling is said to need improving and he tends to launch himself at players, rather than settle for form tackling; something that is correctable at the next level. Where Harris does struggle as I mentioned above, is with bigger receivers. Michael Floyd post a 6 catch 109 yard, 2 TD game against Harris in the Sun Bowl, though the two were not matched up for the entire game (in other words not all of those numbers were surrendered by Harris)-rest-assured, Harris had a bad day.
In addition to size mismatches, Harris does not have killer playmaker instincts. He notched only 4 interceptions in his 3 year career, leaving questions about his ball skills. The only other weakness that is apparent, at least from the standpoint of scouts and draft-niks is that he lacks instincts in zone coverage. This may be because of the lack of zone defense played at the University of Miami, leaving Harris unproven in that area of the game. This is the biggest concern for Steelers FO members and fans alike as Dick LeBeau's defenses hinge upon one's ability to successfully carry out zone coverages and assignments. If the Steelers do believe he can execute in their scheme he's likely near the top of their big board. If not he won't even be on it.
Harris' draft position is a bit of an enigma right now. NFL draft guru Mike Mayock has him ranked as the 5th best corner while NFL draft journeyman Gil Brandt has him in his third tier of prospects (I think that means mid-late first rounder), and Scouts Inc. does not have him ranked in the top 32 prospects. I expect him to be taken somewhere between 23-32 range, as Philly (23), Seattle (25), Baltimore (26), Chicago (29) and then finally us at 31
all have need for corners, so there may very well be a run at the position leaving Harris in the hands of some other team. The Detroit Lions may even entertain the idea of drafting him 13th, or trading down to a lower spot and drafting him somewhere in the first. If Harris is still there somewhere in the mid-20's, I think it'd would be worth our while to trade up to grab him. Something involving our 1st and 3rd and an additional late round pick would be worth it IMO, but only if Colbert is confident this guy could play zone.
I'll admit that I've tempered my expectations on Harris somewhat in recent weeks, but I still see him as a very promising pick at the end of the first round for us. I'm concerned about his size and his lack of time playing zone defenses, but what I see is a potential blue-chip player who's still a little rough around the edges, and could realistically see him panning out the way Cincinnati's Johnathan Joseph did-a good cover corner who also plays the run solidly and is one of the better corner's in the league.