Anthony Harris could end up sticking out as the biggest steal when the Minnesota Vikings end up looking back on their 2015 rookie class a few years from now. He was originally thought of as a third- or fourth-round draft pick by NFL.com, but he fell a long ways in the draft after not being able to play in the Senior Bowl or participate in his Pro Day because he was recovering from a shoulder injury.
That caused him to fall completely out of the draft, but that is not always a bad thing because it allowed him to sign with any team he wanted. In the end, he chose the Vikings, which made a lot of sense. Head coach Mike Zimmer is known for his ability to work with defensive backs and the second safety spot next to Harrison Smith was not locked down by anyone.
Harris was signed to the Vikings’ practice squad after training camp and would stay there until a slew of injuries at the safety position forced the team to call him up to the active roster on Dec. 8. He had the opportunity to start against the Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears and held his own.
“I didn’t really come into the season with too many expectations,” Harris said. “I wish I would have been able to play a little bit sooner, probably. But I was just happy, honestly, to get the opportunity to continue to play football.”
While Harris tried to stay humble throughout his time starting and talking about his role with the team moving forward, he did express that he enjoyed the opportunity he received to start. He would also enjoy it more if he were able to start week in and week out – after all, that is what everyone in the NFL wants.
There will be an opportunity for him to earn that role as an everyday starter next season and it might be the best opportunity he gets. Andrew Sendejo and Robert Blanton are both free agents this offseason and it is hard to believe that the Vikings would bring back both.
That means that the Vikings would currently only have four safeties on their roster: Harris, Smith, Antone Exum Jr..and maybe Sendejo. While the team likely will bring in more safeties this offseason, either through free agency or the draft, to create more competition don’t be surprised if it comes down to Sendejo, Exum and Harris competing for the second starting spot in the end.
Exum and Harris received valuable experience starting for an injured Smith this past season and both have a shot to secure a starting spot for next season.
“I actually don’t really think about (the chance to start) too much,” Harris said. “I honestly don’t really get into contracts and numbers and stuff like that. I’m just all about focusing on myself, being a good teammate, trying to be a better player each day, so going into this offseason that’s what I’ll do. Just focus on putting myself in the best position to do whatever they need me to do. So that’s what I’ll focus on.”
While Harris did show a lot of promise in his two starts there is still plenty for the young safety to work on, most notably is adding some weight and muscle. He comes in at 6-foot-1, 192 pounds and when you see him in person he looks a little thin.
Adding good weight will help with the wear and tear his body would receive if he was named the everyday starter and he seems to realize that as he listed “gaining weight” as one of the things he plans to work on this offseason.
“You could always get better in pretty much every category,” he said. “I’m continuing to work on technique, continuing to work on different things – getting faster, gaining weight, getting more explosive and just trying to be a better overall player.”