Alright people, its getting a bit out of hand so I think its time we address this. And I don't mean make abstract comparisons, call him names or just say 'he sucks' etc. etc. I mean for all the hate going around there has to be some sort of reason behind it right? Explain yourselves, give me actual thoughts not just dumb comparisons (comparing him to Lito, Hobbs etc.). I'm not going to do anything real in depth, this isn't to inform you or anything, this is a more of a discussion thing.
So first things first I guess, I'll just start with the combine numbers.
Brandon Harris measured in at 5'9.5" and 191 pounds. He ran a 4.46 40 yard dash. He benched 225 lbs 13 times. He had a 35.5" vertical jump. Harris notched a 9'05" broad jump, a 4.12 20 yard shutttle and a 6.77 3-cone drill.
To put Brandon Harris' speed into context lets compare him to DeSean Jackson's combine/pro-day numbers.
DeSean Jackson and Brandon Harris ran identical 10 yard splits and Brandon Harris' 20 yard split was .02 seconds faster than DeSean's. Brandon Harris has slightly better lateral quickness than DeSean Jackson as Brandon Harris' 20 yard shuttle was .07 seconds faster than DeSean's. Brandon Harris also displayed slightly better agility with a faster 3 cone drill time. He isn't slow.
So is he undersized? No. Is he on the small side? Yeah. But he is the same size as Brandon Flowers, one of the best corners in the NFL. He is also the same size as Josh Wilson, Sheldon Brown, Cortland Finnegan, Antoine Winfield, Jabari Greer and Ronde Barber who are some of the better corners in the NFL.
So what exactly is the knock on Brandon Harris? I've heard people call him a worse version of Asante, I've heard people call him a worse version of Lito Sheppard and I've even heard people compare him to Ellis Hobbs. People have said he is weak in run support. People have said he jumps routes too much. People (including me at one point) say "He got pwned by Michael Floyd!". People have made up all kinds of stuff to bash Brandon Harris. Let me just point out right now that I believe that those things couldn't be any more untrue.
Lets put the whole "He got owned by Michael Floyd" thing to rest.
He allowed 1 TD pass and it happened when he slipped and fell. Had he not slipped that wouldn't have been a completed pass.
And for what its worth he shut down Jonathan Baldwin when Miami played Pitt. He also did a great job on Demaryius Thomas when they played Georgia Tech in a bowl game in the 2009 season.
I made that particular video and I can tell you that the video shows every time that Brandon Harris was even targeted that game.
My impression of Brandon Harris is this:
Brandon Harris is a great athlete, he participated in track at Miami and he displays great man to man cover skills. His athletic ability and strength allow him to match-up with bigger receivers and his quickness allows him to stick with smaller receivers. Where he lacks is zone coverage, you'll notice that his footwork in zone coverage is choppy and he doesn't really break on the ball all that well because he doesn't have great footwork. And he is a very willing run defender, he isn't going to back down from anyone in run support and he never gives up on plays, he is the Asante Samuel anti-thesis in run support.
To back me up I'll show you some scouting reports:
Read & React: Quick to recognize run and does a nice job of coming up in support. Reads the body language of the receiver and is typically in good position to a make a play on the ball due to his instincts and standout athleticism. Rarely out of position, especially when playing man to man. Does a nice job of focusing on his receiver rather than peeking into the backfield, though this leads to fewer interceptions than he'd have if he "cheated" more.
Man Coverage: Better in man to man coverage than zone due to his pure athleticism. Quick feet, loose hips, good balance and outstanding speed to remain in the hip pocket of his opponent. Doesn't back down from the challenge of playing bigger receivers. Keys on the receiver and gets his head around late. Quick hands to knock passes away, but doesn't have the time to locate the football, leading to more PBUs than INTs.
Zone Coverage: Improved his overall recognition as a junior, but remains a better man to man corner than zone defender. Good feel for where receivers are around him, but can get flat-footed and savvy QBs can "push" him laterally, opening up holes for receivers to expose. Generally a reliable open-field tackler, but isn't a punisher.
Closing/Recovery: Possesses outstanding game speed, including a late burst to recover if beaten initially. Can plant and drive downhill on the ball. Good recognition to know when he's beat and to make the tackle and when he has a chance to break up the pass or go for the interception. Times his collisions well so he doesn't draw the flag. Times his leaps well to compete for jump passes and shows good hand-eye coordination to slap away the ball as the receiver is attempting to secure it. Doesn't turn enough PBU's into interceptions, however, only securing four despite 26 passes defensed over his career.
Run Support: Recognizes run quickly and isn't afraid to come up in support. Good agility and flashes physicality to break free from receiver blocks. Maintains his containment responsibility and will force the back inside. Isn't a physical tackler, too often resorting to duck and swipe techniques, but gets the man on the ground.
Tackling: A reliable open-field tackler, but isn't always pretty doing it. Has a tendency to lead with his shoulder and/or lunge at the defender, resulting in some precarious tackles. Flashes the ability to deliver a pop, but relies too much on arm tackles. Has to do a better job of wrapping up the ballcarrier, though important to note that he did not miss a tackle on the games reviewed. Occasionally asked to blitz off the edge. Times the blitz well, shows good closing speed and the wherewithal to strip the football. Did take a terrible angle on a big play by Notre Dame WR Michael Floyd in the Sun Bowl.
Intangibles: Passionate and accountable. Quoted as saying that he and his classmates (2008 signing class) should dedicate their 2010 season to head coach Randy Shannon and that they were largely to blame for Miami's inconsistency. (Despite Harris' words, Shannon was ultimately fired.) Ran track for Miami as a freshman in the 60 meter (indoor), 400 meter (outdoor) and 4x400 meter (both). Good bloodlines. Coached in high school by his father, Tim Harris, USA Today's National Coach of the Year (2007). His brother, Tim, Jr. was a four-time All-American in track for Miami. Only needs to serve a two-month internship to earn his bachelor's degree in Business.
A tall, good-looking cornerback prospect who possesses a long set of arms, good coordination and knows how to go up and make a play on the football. Looks more natural as an off/zone corner. Possesses natural bend when asked to sit into his stance and is much more patient with his footwork when asked to play off the line. Does a better job keeping his feet under him and cleanly getting in and out of his breaks. Isn't as technically sound up close to the line of scrimmage. Gets too impatient on his punch and at times loses balance into contact, can easily be stroked off the line and is forced to play from behind. Also, doesn't trust his backpedal as much either, has a tendency to play a bit upright and overextended at times when trying to change directions vertically down the field. However, possesses good fluidity in the hips and has a second gear to make up for a false step and track the football vertically.
Exhibits good closing speed down the field and has impressive click and close ability when asked to sit on routes. Lacks ideal strength in jump ball situations and at times can be overwhelmed by bigger receivers, but for the most part does a nice job keeping his feet under him, maintaining his balance and going up to high point the play. Snaps his head around quickly, locates the football well and displays natural body control when asked to go make a play. Also, has some toughness in the run game. Is a willing tackler who will throw his body around and has some natural power as a striker. Doesn't wrap up well in pursuit, but when asked to break down in space, shoots well into tackles, wraps up and has had success bringing down some physical receivers one-on-one in space.
Impression: Needs to polish up his footwork a bit, especially closer to the line of scrimmage. But the natural fluidity, body control and make-up speed is there for him to mature into a very good starting corner in the NFL.
Agility: Harris is a fluid athlete who can flip his hips open to turn and run in man coverage. Change-of-direction ability is outstanding. Is an excellent athlete who ran track in high school and at Miami.
Ball skills: Has only ordinary to below-average hands. He's more the kind of cornerback who is capable of breaking up a pass, as evidenced by his 26 passes defended. Has played some on kick returns (15 career), so he may develop some in this area. Dropped numerous interceptions as a freshman and was thrown at less and less the next two years.
Body control: Although Harris doesn't have the best height, he maintains good body control to properly time his jumps. Of course bigger receivers have a good chance to beating him on jump balls, Harris times his leaps nicely. He's a fluid athlete, so it's hard to get Harris off his spot in bump coverage.
Instincts: This is one of Harris' bigger areas of strength. He doesn't seem to get confused by pre-snap adjustments by the offense and works in motion nicely. Has covered the slot and outside receiver in the same game, so he has a good feel for the field.
Man coverage: Has a tendency to get beat off the line by big and fast receivers who can push him around. Has the ability to make up for this due to his very good quickness, short-area burst and deep speed. Prefers to play tight man, but is best in off-man coverage.
Size: Harris' size was exposed his junior year in the Sun Bowl against Notre Dame. Receiver Michael Floyd was able to use his size to out-man Harris for the ball. At his size, teams might only want to match him up against smaller receivers. Has a good build to his frame, but could get stronger to secure tackles better.
Speed: Plays much faster than his timed speed. Knows how to use his speed to stay with the wide receiver, especially deep down the field. Doesn't take time to get up to speed. Still, as good as Harris' speed is, you'd expect him to be considered more as a special teams player.
Tackling: Is good enough as a tackler. Teams may ask him to get stronger as sometimes he'll need to rely on gang tackling to take down the ball carrier. Sometimes takes questionable angles to the ball carrier.
Zone coverage: Played more man coverage in his career than zone and it shows. As good as Harris is before the snap, he is sometimes slow to adjust in zone to locating the ball and taking the proper angle. He can make up for this problem because of his excellent short-area quickness. Needs to have a safety over the top in zone coverage so he only has to worry about a smaller area.
Final word: For good and bad, Harris has skills that cannot be coached. His short area play is great he's incredibly instinctual for a early entrant. The bad trait that can't be helped is his height. Because of his size, some teams may only view Harris as a nickel cornerback in man coverage schemes. Still, he's relentless and remains confident against bigger receivers.
On a zone team, Harris will have to be given some time to learn. As instinctual as Harris is, you'd expect him to be more comfortable when he has to cover a wide area in zone. Instead, he'll need safety help over the top. It also doesn't help that Harris' hands are lacking. Still, he has the agility and playing ability of a first-round pick.
Was named a first-team All-ACC pick in 2009 with 52 tackles, 15 passes defensed, six tackles for loss and two interceptions. Was a second-team All-ACC pick in 2010 with 48 tackles, eight passes defensed and an interception.
Pros: Adjusts well to motion pre-snap. Trails receivers tightly on timing and crossing routes and has the short-area speed to recover on digs and comebacks. Closes exceptionally well on screens and swing passes. He'll lose one-on-one jumping battles because of his height, but he has a great sense of timing to leap as the receiver starts to descend. Excellent sense of play direction; you don't see him getting fooled out of a potential play by receiver moves or quarterback fakes. Seems to have an innate sense of when to be aggressive and jump a route, and when to hang back and tackle. Clearly responds to coaching and learns from his mistakes in coverage.
Decent form tackler in run support for his size (5-foot-11, 195 pounds), though bigger players will drag him and he'll have to wait for help at times. Doesn't shy away from lining up to set the edge. Quick enough to avoid getting beaten by jukes in space, and he doesn't hesitate to being a knock once he zeroes in.
Cons: Harris is a better man corner than he is in zone, especially zone where he's playing off. Less of problem when he's playing under with or without safety help, but he seems to get a bit lost with a bigger zone to defend. Faster receivers who can push off will gain advantage -- Harris will struggle to catch up at times. Passes defensed numbers are partially inflated because he has a habit of slapping the ball away even when he could go for the pick.
Conclusion: If Harris was two inches taller, we'd be talking about him as a top-15 draft pick. But as he stands (literally), he's still got enough talent to start his path in the NFL as an outstanding nickel corner and make the transition to starting cornerback in a system in which pure man-speed is more important than zone recognition and the ability to tackle. With continued focus on his technique, he should be able to meet good coaching all the way and make a real difference for his NFL team.
I'm not jumping ship here on Jimmy Smith, Jimmy Smith is my guy but I'm just saying that the Brandon Harris hate is ridiculous at this point, he isn't a bad player by any measure. Quite frankly, this is the guy I think the Eagles pick too. As much as I love Jimmy Smith as a player there are concerns about his character and the Eagles seem to be avoiding those guys lately. Plus he fits the Eagles mold that all of the corners seemingly fit in. Aside from Matt Ware and leftover Ray Rhodes guys (Vincent, Taylor, Harris) the Eagles have never really had any big corners, they've always stuck with smaller guys on the outside.
Just look at the guys currently on the roster:
Asante Samuel: 5’11" 185 lbs. 4.49 40 yard dash
Trevard Lindley: 5’11" 183 lbs. 4.51 40 yard dash
Dimitri Patterson: 6’ 195 lbs. 4.60 40 yard dash
Joselio Hanson: 5’9" 185 lbs. ??? 40 yard dash
Ellis Hobbs: 5’9" 192 lbs. 4.45 40 yard dash
Brandon Hughes: 5’10" 182 lbs. 4.50 40 yard dash
Jorrick Calvin: 5’10" 182 lbs. 4.46 40 yard dash
Gerard Lawson: 5’11" 192 lbs. 4.57 40 yard dash
Guys the Eagles have drafted include:
Lito Sheppard 5'10" 194 pounds 4.48 40 yard dash
Sheldon Brown 5'9" 196 pounds 4.46 40 yard dash
Jack Ikegwuonu 5'10" 194 pounds 4.45 40 yard dash
Brandon Harris fits at 5'10" 191 pounds with 4.46 speed.
So I've got a feeling that a lot of you are going to have to get used to Brandon Harris and I think that its about time we reign in the hate and start to come to terms with the fact that this guy has a chance (big chance IMO) at being an Eagle.