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Napoleon Ready to Conquer

The words are almost enough to get Napoleon Harris' blood boiling.<p> "Mock draft" is like hearing "blitz" for the former Northwestern star.<p>

But like it or not, Harris is going to be hearing those words for a little while longer. The NFL draft doesn't start until Saturday, so all the so-called experts will be talking about the positives and negatives of each player and what team should pick them until Paul Tagliabue steps to the podium.

"You can have a million mock drafts and every one of them can be different," said Harris, the consensus choice as the best linebacker in the draft. "It's kind of hard. They can tell you a million things, but it's so hard to know which team you're going to go to. They only know what teams are interested, but I don't think there's a lot of teams that want to give up the information.

"I don't buy into it anyway."

What Harris hopes NFL teams will buy into is his potential to be a star at the next level. Harris, who was moved from outside linebacker to defensive end this past season to help the Wildcats, will be asked to go back to linebacker in the NFL.

He doesn't see a problem.

"I'm definitely happy I'm moving back to linebacker," said Harris, who was fourth on the Wildcats with 78 tackles and second with tackles for loss with nine and three sacks. "I feel I'm more of an athlete to the team at linebacker. I can make more plays because I'm on my feet and I can see things a lot more clearer. I feel at linebacker I'll be more of an asset to the team."

Harris likes hearing he's considered the top linebacker available. But again, he doesn't like to get caught up in "mock draft" hype.

"You can never get too excited about what's going to happen," said Harris. "It would be a blessing if the Raiders do pick me (at No. 23) and I get the chance to play at the next level in the NFL. But Minnesota could pick me at No. 7 or I've even heard Arizona at No. 12. You just never know."

This past season Harris, a 6-foot-3, 253-pounder, added 20 pounds of body weight and increased his bench press from 315 pounds to 425. The former standout basketball player, who played for Northwestern as a freshman, also recorded a 36-inch vertical leap to go with a 350-pound power clean, 600-pound squat and a 4.56 time in the 40, after dedicating himself to playing just one sport.

Harris also didn't hurt himself at the NFL combine in Indianapolis in early March.

"He'll be a fine linebacker. He can be like Rosey (Rosevelt Colvin) and play with his hand on the ground or off the ground. But he's got more size than Rosey and better speed," Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache said. "He has a high, high ceiling. You get a lot of ups with him. He's a guy you'd love to have on your football team, but I know there's a lot of teams in this league that would say they'd love to have Napoleon on their football team."

Harris also helped himself by changing positions this past season. It gave scouts a chance to see him in a three-point stance at defensive end.

"I understand that I'm definitely privileged to be considered the best linebacker in the country," Harris said. "It's something I think I'm worthy of, but the whole thought of playing at the next level and being among the world's greatest in football is just a blessing."

Harris, who graduated from Northwestern with a degree in communications, said he'd like to eventually pursue a career in broadcasting. He has some business to attend to first, and he hopes that includes a long, healthy and prosperous NFL career.

"My goal is to get in there early, study the playbook hard and try to be an instant starter, because I don't want to go in there and just play special teams and just be a contributor," Harris said. "I just wish the draft was over and I know where I'm going and know what city and community I'll be a part of."


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