Since the departure of Brian Dawkins, the Eagles have searched for their next true game-changer at the safety position (Dare I say Next Dawkins?). The position has seemingly been an annual failure for the squad as the likes of Nate Allen, Sean Jones, Kurt Coleman, Macho Harris, Patrick Chung and more have under-performed on a consistent basis.
Although the position has become a problem, last season saw a glimmer of hope as free agent signee Malcolm Jenkins performed adequately. One of the Eagles biggest issues on defense this offseason is finding a quality co-pilot for Jenkins moving forward. Virginia's Anthony Harris fits the Eagles description quite well, when considering his size and athleticism.
A high school quarterback, receiver and defensive back from Chesterfield, Va., Harris decided to play his college ball close to home and committed to the Cavaliers in 2011. As a true freshman, Harris played defensive back in 13 games and collected 14 tackles. As a sophomore, he started all 12 games at safety. During that campaign, Harris produced 87 tackles, a forced fumble and an interception.
As a junior, Harris played in 12 games (11 starts) and ranked first in the nation with eight interceptions. He added 80 tackles (3.5 for loss) and six pass breakups to his impressive interception total. He was named an All-American by several publications and was voted All-ACC first team. In his final season at Virginia, he started all 12 games and received All-ACC honors again. He produced 108 tackles (two for loss), a sack, 10 pass breakups and two interceptions.
He finished No. 10 all-time in school history with 11 interceptions. He was invited to the Senior Bowl but did not participate in practices or the game.
At 6-foot-1 and 190 pounds, Harris is tall and long. He is proficient in coverage and can break on a ball with tremendous quickness. His long reach allows for him to stop opposing players in space and while he isn't very strong, his length allows him to hold on to ball carriers. He is very patient and uses his instincts to find the ball.
He has a little bit of nastiness to him and loves contact. He is willing to help in run support and he attacks with speed and force. He is a sound playmaker and likes to bait quarterbacks and jump routes. He plays the ball in the air very well and has great hands.
Harris is a bit frail for his size and could stand to add roughly 10-15 pounds of muscle. His strength will likely be questioned by NFL scouts and rightfully so, as there are times where he is dragged by ball carriers. He has a bit of an awkwardness to the way he runs and turns his hips, which allows for speedy receivers to get behind him with ease. At times, Harris takes poor tackling angles.
The Eagles like big defensive backs that can cover and Harris fits that mold. He is likely a Day 2 prospect, which will allow for the team to focus on other needs in the first round. Harris needs to gain some weight for the next level but his athleticism and size are appealing to a team that signed Jenkins to a free agent deal. He and Jenkins would offer the Eagles two tall and long coverage safeties that they could depend on in one-on-one situations. He will likely come off the board in the second round.
Trust Your Own Eyes
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