Name: Ronnie Harrison
Stats from Sports-Reference.com
Physically, there may not be a more impressive safety in this draft. At 6-foot-3, 214 pounds with room to bulk up, Harrison has the size and strength to match up with top flight tight ends. He has length to go along with his height, allowing him to play deep balls and keep separation when blocked. He also has good thickness, which will help his long-term health as he spends significant time in the box and on blitzes.
Unlike some defensive backs with his size, Harrison is fluid with change of direction. He flips his hips quickly and smoothly when in man coverage and can mirror routes surprisingly well. His straight line speed is more than enough for recovery purposes and makes him lethal in run support. He accelerates well to make plays on the ball and has the requisite leaping ability to high point. As an all-around athletic specimen, Harrison is probably the most complete safety in the pool.
In college, Harrison played all over the field. He covered slots and tight ends regularly, typically with success. His size was too much for most college slot receivers and he was too fast for tight ends to get much separation. As a center field, he was rarely, if ever, beaten over the top. He is too rangy and athletic to allow receivers to get behind him. He also has good instincts and generally reads quarterbacks eyes well.
Most of all, Harrison loves to use his range and athleticism to bait quarterbacks into bad throws. He frequently plays underneath the route as he knows he has the physical makeup to recover deep. This gets him into trouble every once in a while, as he becomes susceptible to double moves or getting looked off by the quarterback. But overall, his gambles pay off far more often than not.
In the Box
Aggressive is his primary gear when dropping down into the box. He possesses linebacker-like size and uses it to play fast and downhill in run support. His length allows him to keep separation from blockers and shed to find the ball. Harrison also has blitzing experience both off the edge and up the middle, recording 2.5 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss in 2017. Simply put, he can handle his business at the line of scrimmage.
The one criticism of him would be his tackling. While a fierce, strong hitter, he rarely wraps, instead throwing his shoulder. This is a common issue among young defensive backs in today’s league, and it gets more scrutiny these days due to increasing awareness of head injuries. Harrison will likely need to curtail his tackling style a hair both for safety reasons and to ensure he does not miss tackles on a regular basis.
While safety is not the most pressing of needs for Minnesota, Harrison would be one of the best players available if he were to fall to number 30. Especially if none of the top-flight line talents drop to the end of the first, he will almost certainly be in play for the Vikings’ first round pick.
Physically, Harrison closely resembles All-Pro safety Harrison Smith. He also has similar versatility as an in-the-box player and deep cover. Assuming 30-year-old Andrew Sendejo‘s time with the Vikings is nearing its end, Harrison could seamlessly fit into Sendejo’s role. Sendejo had a fantastic 2017. But given his age and relative athletic limitations, Harrison would almost certainly be an upgrade long-term.
Stylistically, he fits Mike Zimmer’s safety prototype to a T. Harrison is big, rangy and athletic. He can play center field and in the box. He can cover slots, running backs and tight ends with equal success. And perhaps most of all, he has the ability to blitz. With Zimmer’s double-A gap blitz schemes, Harrison would almost immediately have a role in the defense, even if he is not a day one starter.
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