NAME: Malik Harrison
SCHOOL: Ohio State University
Malik Harrison is an inside linebacker who will likely be drafted during day two of the draft. He is an electric player who is great against the run. At 240 pounds, he has a very sturdy build, and he plays faster the most people will give him credit for. He’s also a super heavy hitter. When watching his tape, you see him use his dense body to stop ball carriers right at the point of contact. He plays very violent and choppy. If the Colts want to bring in another linebacker to strengthen this position, they should look for Harrison on day two.
Harrison is absolutely electric on the field. He can easily close in on runningbacks with quickness to make the play. When he’s blitzing, he shoots through the gap like lightning to pressure the quarterback. He really has some burners, and his motor just doesn’t stop. Harrison will likely be a productive blitzer if he gets drafted by a team with an aggressive defense. That is where he shines.
When discussing fast linebackers like Harrison, generally you don’t expect them to be big hitters. However, he is able to use his quickness and thick frame to throw himself at ball carriers to make the tackle. He just lights people up! It’s always fun to watch a heavy hitter lay running backs on the turf. Harrison also does a good job at keeping his head up during these hits. Many NFL linebackers have the tendency to lower their head into contact, causing helmet-to-helmet hits and penalties, but Harrison stays upright while maintaining his power.
Ohio State LB Malik Harrison should intrigue the Raiders. With the signing of Cory Littleton, they secured a cover LB. In Harrison, Vegas could see a Day Two LB that could immediately start, giving them a 'backer that hits, blitzes and can perform in limited space@FullPressNFL pic.twitter.com/zvzy6UfjGA
— Full Press Raiders (@FPC_Raiders) April 18, 2020
Harrison’s hard hitting ability plays an important role here, but so do his strong arms. He is one of the best arm tacklers coming into the draft. This doesn’t limit his tackling ability, either. In fact, most of the time he wraps up and drives through the player with his body, exactly like a linebacker is supposed to do. His ability to safely arm tackle just gives him more range to bring people down who might otherwise escape.
This is where Harrison needs to improve. What separates Harrison from being a first rounder is his inconsistent ability to drop back in coverage. He frequently bites on play action because of his obsession with knocking players sideways. Currently, Harrison is close to a liability in man coverage because he has severely limited experience there. However, in zone, he shows flashes of natural coverage instincts to feel the route and jump at the ball to force incompletions.
The biggest need for the Indianapolis Colts is definitely not linebacker, but Chris Ballard often makes selections that leave fans scratching their heads. These selections usually work out for the best, no matter how odd they seem initially. If Ballard wants to solidify the linebacker position, he should look for Harrison on day two. Darius Leonard and Anthony Walker are one of the best linebacker duos in the league, but who the third player will be is still uncertain. Most think it will be second year player Bobby Okereke. Drafting Harrison would at least create competition at the spot. In addition, the Colts play primarily zone coverage, which would be a good scheme for Harrison to further develop his coverage skills.