After what could have been the worst kept secret in the league, the Detroit Lions officially announced the hiring of James "Shack" Harris as Senior Personnel Executive earlier this week.
|1987-1992 - Tampa Bay
1993-1996 - N.Y. Jets
- Assistant GM
1997-2002 - Baltimore
- Director of Player Personnel
2003-2008 - Jacksonville
- V.P. of Player Personnel
The team had mentioned previously it would bring in additional front office help to serve as an extra set of eyes for talent evaluation, and Harris' name had surfaced almost a month ago.
But while he has accrued 22 years of personnel and scouting experience in the league, Harris, like every other personnel evaluator in the league, has question marks.
Harris was forced out of his GM position in Jacksonville following the 2008 campaign, departing the Sunshine state with a considerably shaky reputation after several questionable personnel moves.
Charlie Berstein, a regular contributor to FOX Sports, Sirius NFL Radio and JagNation.com, said that Harris' detractors aren't completely with merit, but that his failings at talent evaluation were evident.
"He did repeatedly miss on first-round picks," said Bernstein. "Shack was responsible, but not solely responsible for the selections of Byron Leftwich, Reggie Williams, Matt Jones, Marcedes Lewis, and Reggie Nelson. None of the five have lived up to their lofty draft status. Harris certainly took the blame for those selections, but he somehow never received any credit for selecting second-round gems like Rashean Mathis, Daryl Smith, Greg Jones, Khalif Barnes, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Justin Durant."
The Lions will look to Harris for considerable help in April, where they hold two key draft choices - No. 1 and 20 overall - and stubborn resolve to rebuild the team primarily through the college ranks.
After several opening round draft failings of their own (see: Matt Millen), Bernstein was confident that Detroit's reliance upon Harris would be an improvement over the past.
"There are certainly better personnel guys than Harris currently working, but he is miles ahead of what the poor Lions fans had to endure with Matt Millen," added Bernstein. "I believe Shack was partially hated amongst the fanbase due to the color of his skin as he worked in one of the more racist towns in America. (In Detroit) that won't be an issue.
"Shack is good with the media, and his players like and respect him."
Harris will work closely with Lions General Manager and Vice President Martin Mayhew with day-to-day management of the player personnel department, and will participate in player evaluation on both the pro and college level, beginning with this month's NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis.