Harris Worth the Hype

Tommie Harris is rated as the top defensive tackle in this year's draft. Whether or not Harris will be there for the Bears with the 14th selection is questionable, but there's no doubt Lovie Smith would jump at the chance to add an interior lineman of his stature.

Every major off-season signing by GM Jerry Angelo addressed the offensive side of the ball, thus the emphasis in the draft will be the defensive and more specifically the front four. Smith is looking for talent at both end and tackle and is making his case to Angelo for selecting one of each in rounds one and two.

After selecting Michael Haynes in the first-round a year ago it would seem that defensive tackle is the more pressing need especially when Keith Traylor was allowed to leave via free agency. Bryan Robinson and Alfonso Boone are the projected starters at this point and neither has proven to be a force inside.

There are four defensive tackles that could go in round one. Randy Starks-Maryland, Vince Wilfork-Miami and Darnell Dockett-Florida State are projected to go in the first-round. Over the course of the week Bear Report will examine how each player potentially fits into the Bears plans, but today the focus is on the man atop the list, Oklahoma's Tommie Harris.

At 6-2.5 and 295 pounds, Harris is the prototypical tackle in Smith's speed emphasized defense.

Harris decided to enter the draft as a junior despite not having huge numbers. Still the nation knows what kind of player Harris is as he won the 2003 Lombardi Award, given annually to college football's best lineman. With a dominant defense built around him, Harris finished the campaign with 37 tackles, 10 for loss and had five sacks. The scheme Harris played in impacted his numbers.

"We rotated in and out each series, so that could be a problem with my numbers," Harris said. "But when I was in there I gave it all I got and I gave my best effort to help my team."

There is no questioning Harris' effort. He's considered a high motor player that consistently had to deal with double-teams. He ran a low 4.7 forty time and completed 29 reps at 225 pounds, but said six additional reps were taken away from him because his elbows didn't lock up.

Growing up in a military background has given Harris the discipline necessary to handle the pressure of being a top pick. While Harris doesn't lack confidence in his ability, he's has joked about not being worthy of the hype.

"Maybe a Pro bowl or hall of fame, then I'll tell you if I'm good or not," Harris said. "I'm moving on to the next level and we'll see how good things get up there."

If the Bears were able to take Harris he would instantly step into the starting lineup and upgrade the weakest area of the defense. However there are several teams picking ahead of the Bears that are interested in taking Harris. He could be off the board as early as the fifth slot to the Washington Redskins. If Angelo and Smith are serious about taking Harris they might have to trade up past the Houston Texans, who are likely to take him with the 10th pick.

TFY Draft Preview Scouting Report
Positive:
Explosive interior lineman who plays with a relentless motor. Quick off the snap, gets push up the field and bulrushes opponents off the line. Fights with his hands, adjusts off the initial block and relentless in his pursuit of the ball carrier. Moves well laterally, redirects to the action and rarely off his feet. Possesses a closing burst of speed and gets a lot of penetration in the backfield. Quick to read the play or locate the ball.

Negative:Not a knee bender and opponents get leverage on him. Can not immediately alter his angle of attack.

Analysis: A productive player that's been an impact defender since he was a freshman, Harris possesses the athleticism and desire to be a similar type player at the next level Does not possesses the great growth potential but can be used in a variety of systems and should immediately produce as a rookie.


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