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NFL Draft Profile: Nick Harris

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From unheralded recruit to the NFL Draft.

NFL: Combine Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

High School & Recruitment

It’s now a famous fact that is often taken for granted, but Washington was the only FBS school to offer Nick Harris a scholarship. Many college coaches seemed to agree that Harris was very talented, but he was just too short to be considered a serious candidate to play Division 1 football. Rated as a low three star prospect by 247Sports composite rankings in the 2016 recruiting cycle, then Washington offensive line coach Chris Strausser saw the potential and took a flier on the undersized kid from Gardena, CA. Kudos to Strauser, as Harris would become an immediate contributor on Washington’s offensive line and be a stalwart on the interior of the line for the following three seasons at Washington.

Harris played both ways at Junipero Serra HS, playing off the edge on the defensive line and right tackle on offense. He was named to the first-team All-Trinity League after his senior year. For those who may not know, the Trinity league in southern California is considered to be one of the best, if not the best high school football league in the nation.

Measurements

While his severe under-recruitment is famous, perhaps the most well known fact about Harris is his height. At 6’1”, 302 lbs he’s considered undersized for a center. Luckily for Harris, center is arguably the position on the offensive line where height matters the least.

Speed kills. At the NFL combine, Harris was able to prove that he is fast. He recorded a 5.1 second 40 time, which tied him for the 13th fastest 40 yard dash by an offensive lineman. He didn’t run the cone drill, but he did 20 reps in the bench press, and had vertical and broad jumps of 29.5” and 103”, respectively.

College Career

As previously stated, Harris arrived on campus during the summer of 2016 and by the fall had won immediate playing time. He was one of four true freshmen to play in the season opener against Rutgers and went on to play in 12 of the 14 games, sitting out the Arizona and USC games. He ultimately started two games at left guard and two games at right guard as a true freshman, including wins at No. 17 Utah, at Cal, the Pac-12 Championship Game over Colorado, and the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl loss to Alabama. After the win at Cal, he was named the coaches’ lineman of the game.

During the 2017 season, Harris started all 13 games at right guard. He was named the Husky coaches’ lineman of the game against Utah, and got his first league-wide recognition by earning honorable mention All-Pac-12 for both his play on the field and his work in the classroom. It was the 2018 season in which Harris truly became well known outside of the Washington community. He moved to center and started in 13 out of 14 games, sitting out only the north Dakota game. He again earned Academic All-Pac-12 honorable mention but this time added All-Pac-12 1st team honors to his trophy case.

By his senior season, the undersized and under-recruited Harris had become nationally known. He started 12 out of 13 games at center, missing only the Arizona game due to injury. His award list is too long to mention everything by name, but here’s a brief summary: preseason Associated Press All-America Second Team, preseason All-Pac-12 First Team, and by the end of the season he added All-Pac-12 First Team and Second Team honors from multiple sources, as well as making Sports Illustrated’s All-America Second Team. He was named to the watch lists for the Outland Trophy, the Wuerffel Trophy and the Rimington Trophy. Finally, he won the Guy Flaherty Most Inspirational Award, UW football’s oldest and most prestigious team honor.

On-Field Analysis

More than one source has described Harris as a “worker-bee”, as he is a hard worker with a relentless motor and plays with tremendous grit. He has excellent foot quickness, which allows him to consistently reach his blocks. His lateral quickness and good pursuit angels allow him to climb well and reach cut off blocks and second level targets, while his speed helps in getting outside on stretch plays. Once he makes contact, Harris is great at quickly delivering a tight punch, establishing good leverage, using a strong grip to stay in the middle of the frame, and is able to set a wide base and adjust his body and hips to stay on his blocks.

Despite his athletic ability and strong fundamentals, there are some weaknesses to his game that NFL teams will certainly take note of. First and perhaps most obviously, he lacks the frame and length that most NFL teams will be looking for. Due to his physical limitations, he will be limited by scheme and won’t have much position versatility outside of playing center. Additionally, he can sometimes hesitate on his snap, leading to false starts, and has a tendency to hold when he doesn’t get good positioning. Finally, Harris is excellent at reaching and maintaining his blocks, but he doesn’t get much push at the point of attack. He is more than effective at both run and pass-blocking, but he won’t be mistaken for a road grader.

On the health front, Harris had a fairly injury free career at Washington. He only officially missed one game due to injury, but often played through significant pain, specifically due to a knee injury during the 2018 season. It was common to see Harris limping during games and at times he seemed to be physically limited by the pain. In his own words “I haven’t been healthy since 8th grade”. That said, it certainly proves how tough the guy is and assuming he passes his team physicals, that ability to play through pain will likely be coveted by NFL teams.

Summary

Harris is a smart, hard working, and athletic NFL center prospect with excellent technique who just happens to be undersized. Despite his 6’1” frame and maxing out at 302 lbs, Harris has proven that he can effectively compete against elite talent at the highest levels of college football. His talent was apparent early on to the Washington coaching staff, and all he did in his college career was start 50 games and earn a crap load of honors and awards. While many NFL teams may balk at his size, Harris grades out as a good backup who could become a starter and has a good chance to be taken on Day 3 of the NFL draft.