Can Harris overcome size questions to provide value for the Texans?
Lovie Smith started his NFL coaching career as a linebackers coach at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996. Smith gets an intriguing linebacker prospect at no. 75 overall after the Texans selected Alabama’s Christian Harris.
Harris is the fifth player selected by Houston in the draft this year and marks the third defensive prospect taken by the Boys on Kirby. The linebacker also marks the second Alabama pickup of the night for the Texans, who selected WR John Metchie III in the second round just hours prior.
The Texans leap-frogged the Baltimore Ravens for the second time in one night to grab Harris. Analysts projected that the Ravens might be targeting a linebacker; especially one out of Alabama.
Harris was a productive player for the Crimson Tide who started in 30 games in three years for Alabama. He notched 220 tackles, 26 TFLs, 10 sacks, and one interception over his career in Tuscaloosa.
Harris’ most productive game of his career came in the 2022 CFP Championship against Georgia, when he led the Crimson Tide with three sacks, four tackles for loss, and seven tackles overall.
Measurables And Notables
A consistent part of Harris’ evaluation is that he could be considered undersized, as he measures at 6-0, 226 lbs. An even more discussed part of the linebacker’s evaluation is his speed and athleticism. At the combine, the Baton Rouge native ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, marked a 34.5 vertical jump, and leaped 132 inches in the broad jump.
One notable regarding the Texans newest draft choice is that he grew up in Baton Rouge, La., the same city as first-round selection Derek Stingley Jr. Harris and Stingley Jr. even played on the same 7-on-7 team in their youth.
Christian Harris projects best as a weakside (WILL) linebacker who can bank on his most talented attributes: his coverage ability and athleticism. A WILL linebacker needs to be able to do a little of everything: rush the passer, cover auxiliary receivers (like running backs or tight ends occasionally), and clean up runs, especially as a trailing backside defender. This is where Harris’ game will shine; pursuing from the weak side and covering down seams and flats.
Harris is a fast and athletic player, but his size limitations make him often overmatched at the point of attack when taking on blockers in the run game. Unless he puts on weight at the pro level and gains play strength, he will likely be asked to cover and pursue more than be a “thumper” in Lovie’s Tampa 2.
Overall, the Texans selection shows a commitment to a common Smith quote: “We want to play fast.” With Christian Harris, Houston gets faster.