The Falcons front office surprised us all with the trade for defensive end Charles Harris. They most certainly needed depth at the position, and trading a 7th round pick for him isn’t that much of a gamble.
However, as a former 1st round draft pick, Harris’s career has been very underwhelming. He hasn’t made much of an impact on the field and has only amassed 3.5 sacks since entering the NFL. Now it’s true that sometimes a change of scenery could be good for a player. However, outside of that, what does the coaching staff need to do to help with Harris’ game?
Help Harris develop a primary rush move
Coming out of college, Harris showed explosiveness off the snap and showed fluid hips. Also, he was pretty effective in converting speed to power and working off of that. In the NFL, he simply hasn’t shown the ability to start with a bull rush and work counters off of it.
Because of that, he has no true plan when rushing the passer outside of hustle. Where Falcons defensive line coach Tosh Lupoi needs to start is creating a primary rush move before he can even begin to think about counters. Harris is still athletic and
has some strength, so maybe having him fully develop his bull rush or have him work on a inside rip after exploding off the snap would work for him. He just needs a plan, because as we know at this point, guys who win on power and speed alone in college don’t win that way often in the pros.
Help Harris with his hands
Any pass rush move Harris develops will have to start with his hands. He still lacks an effective punch at the point of attack and lets tackles get into his chest early and often. The one big part of Harris’ game is he needs to be active and violent with his hands. Yes, he had worked in even and odd front alignments in Miami, but being able to stack and shed blockers at the point of attack will serve him well on the road to improvement.
That’s not everything, but honestly it covers the two biggest issues with his game. Charles Harris is a low risk, high reward move for the Falcons. He has a reputation as a hard worker, and I have no doubt that he’s attempted to improve in the areas necessary to be effective.
However, he seems to have issues putting it all together on the field at this point. As stated earlier, he’s certainly a good enough athlete, but he’s isn’t fast enough to effectively deploy a speed rush. He also needs to continue to work on his strength and technique if he wants to convert speed to power effectively.
My educated guess is that Coach Lupoi is going to have Harris focus on a primary rush move to make him more effective as a rotational pass rusher. From that primary rush move, he can then work on counters to make him even more effective. If Lupoi coax better overall technique out of Harris, then he can be an important rotational piece of the Falcons’ pass rush for the 2020 season.