Cards Conduct Private Meeting with D-Lineman

The Cardinals defense was a major liability last season, something the team is determined to correct. One major task for GM Rod Graves is securing depth along the defensive line. Scout.com's Ed Thompson confirmed the Cardinals' interest in a run-stuffing nose tackle, one they corralled for a private meeting at the NFL Combine.

Arkansas DT Marcus Harrison (6'3", 307 pounds) was a four-year starter and the first true freshman to start on the Razorback's defensive line since 1982. He was originally recruited as a defensive end, but was moved to the interior after adding bulk. Harrison was a constant force in the trenches, completing his college career with 148 tackles, 16.5 tackles for a loss and 11 pass deflections.

Harrison is run-stopping specialist who excels making plays at the line of scrimmage. He features excellent straight-line speed and quickness for a player of his stature. He also demonstrates the ability to read screen passes and deliver open-field tackles.

Although his sack production was unimpressive in college, he could improve in that area with proper coaching.

While Harrison boasts enormous potential, there are concerns about his past. Durability is an issue, as he suffered multiple injuries in college. In 2006, Harrison underwent surgery to remove torn cartilage in his right knee. In 2007, he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during spring practice. However, Harrison recovered in time to be listed as the starter heading into the fall.

Harrison's character has also been questioned. He was arrested in the spring of 2007 and was charged with felony drug possession. He was suspended one game, missing the season opener. In addition, Harrison was deemed ineligible upon his arrival to Arkansas, forcing him to spend one year at Hargrave Military Academy in Pennsylvania.

The Cardinals conducted a private meeting with Harrison in Indianapolis, hoping to dig beyond his reputation. Harrison was impressive by all accounts, which could bolster his chances of wearing Red & White next season.

The Cardinals already have two capable defensive tackles in Gabe Watson and Alan Branch. Both are ideals fit in the 3-4 defense and should develop into key contributors.

Harrison would supply the Cardinals with additional depth on the interior. He also possesses the versatility to line up at defensive end when needed. Harrison's ability to fill gaps up front could boost the Cardinals run defense, which ceded 1,527 yards and 13 touchdowns last season.

Although Harrison is a tremendous talent, he comes with great risk. If GM Rod Graves approved of their meeting at the Combine, the team could target him as early as round three. If the Cardinals coaching staff can harness Harrison's personality and talent, he could prove to be the steal of the draft.


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