Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris, Jr. is the highest rated player at his position, according to Pro Football Focus—the advanced football metrics website, which MHH references at times. PFF just finished publishing their “Top-101 Players of 2014” and Harris came it at No. 4 overall and the highest-rated cornerback on the list.
We’ve known since the season ended that Harris was PFF’s highest rated corner, so this shouldn’t come as news to those who follow MHH, but it is impressive to see Harris get his just desserts—beating out the likes of Richard Sherman, Darrelle Revis and Patrick Peterson—all players with a much higher public profile.
Coming so quickly off the back of a torn ACL, Harris’ season was scarcely believable. A positive grade in every single game, a season passer rating allowed below 50, no touchdowns allowed and less than 400 yards conceded on more than 700 coverage snaps. Throw in that he covered the slot for more than 250 snaps and Harris’ season is all the more remarkable.
Interestingly, PFF points out that as impressive as Harris’ season was, he was used in a different way than Sherman and Revis were. Nobody ever said Jack Del Rio was the most creative of schemers.
More Broncos Stories
Harris has never been used as creatively as Ryan or Belichick used Revis, and he isn’t the masterful self-promoter that Sherman is. He sticks to the old attitude of letting his play do the talking. Unfortunately, in today’s NFL, that doesn’t necessarily get you ahead, and Harris’ understated excellence hasn’t been enough to get him the recognition he deserves. Last season he was truly excellent. Better than Darrelle Revis. Better than Richard Sherman. Better than Joe Haden, Patrick Peterson or any other cornerback that has been in the conversation for best in the league.
Something tells us that new Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips might have the innovative mind to utilize Harris in a way that allows the Broncos defense to be more creative, because although they finished in the top-5 in 2014 in total defense, they rarely surprised an opponent.
It’s great that Harris has finally been recognized as one of the NFL’s elite cornerbacks, signing a big extension, going to the Pro Bowl and earning Second Team All-Pro honors. This PFF ranking is simply icing on the cake.