2018 NFL Draft scouting report: Ronnie Harrison would be a great fit for Chiefs
The Kansas City Chiefs could make a play for a safety in the upcoming draft. Should they target Ronnie Harrison?
Many of you will look at this first glance and wonder why in the world we would be looking for a safety. Others will welcome some change to the secondary. There’s no doubt that the Kansas City Chiefs defense struggled at the loss of safety Eric Berry. Even though the defense as a unit struggled all together, the secondary was a major issue.
After signing a new contract in the 2017 offseason, safety Daniel Sorensen was asked to step up and take on more responsibilities with Berry’s absence. This led to the young safety being dramatically exposed and for too long as defensive coordinator Bob Sutton refused to make adjustments till halfway through the season. Like Sorensen, safety Ron Parker was also asked to contribute more and seemed to be exposed to some extent as well.
General Manager Brett Veach has made it very clear that he wants to move the team in a younger direction with the releasing of linebacker Derrick Johnson. With Parker turning 31 this coming August and his contract becoming more expensive, could the Chiefs decide to part ways with him as well this offseason? Only time will tell as we head into Veach’s first offseason in his new position. What we do know is the Chiefs secondary struggled immensely without a healthy Berry.
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When most people think about a safety out of the University of Alabama, they immediately jump to the name Minkah Fitzpatrick. While he is an exceptional safety as well, Ronnie Harrison is in the same top five list of safeties in the Draft this coming year according to WalterFootball.com. There’s a considerable amount of talent at the safety position in this draft class, and Harrison is one that could possibly fall to the Chiefs in the second round if that’s where they decide to go.
Most years a player like Harrison wouldn’t fall to the late second round, but considering the amount of talent at the position, it could happen. I felt it was a good enough chance to take a look at the film in case that was to happen. I have to admit, I was very impressed.
There wasn’t a significant amount of his film from 2017 except the National Championship game against Georgia, but I watched his games in 2016 against LSU and Clemson on DraftBreakdown.com.
One of the first things that popped out to me about Harrison that he lines up all over the defense. It seemed as if he never lined up in the same place on consecutive plays in either contest.
Harrison has the size and athleticism that allows him to play high and still be able to reach the line of scrimmage to attack the run game. He could also play low inside the box and still make a play off the ball in the passing game. It also makes it fairly easy for him to fit in any defensive scheme in the NFL. His instincts and awareness make him a playmaker and most of the time he comes up with the play.
With cornerback Marlon Humphrey leaving in last year’s draft and the injuries suffered by the team’s linebackers, Fitzpatrick and Harrison were asked to step up. They most certainly did. Harrison tied the team lead in tackles with 74 in 2017 while also hauling in 4.5 stops behind the line of scrimmage including 2.5 sacks, 3 interceptions, and 4 pass breakups.
Another quality that really stood out to me was Harrison’s aggressiveness in the run game. Harrison shows no hesitation to launch full speed to attack during run plays. His speed lets him get around tackles and his awareness and length allow him to squeeze through the gaps to make a punishing hit on the running back. Something you can always count on with Harrison is delivering a hit.
Harrison is more likely to be lined up deep or in coverage while Fitzpatrick played most of the inside-the-box snaps. This is what makes the argument for Harrison to possibly become a free safety in the NFL. He’s constructed with attributes that of a strong safety, but his athleticism and awareness make it possible for him to play either safety position.
When lined up single high for Alabama, he was able to watch the quarterback’s eyes and make a play on the ball. Playing quarterback in high school gave him an upper edge on what a quarterback is thinking. Since Harrison struggles to cover wide receivers one-on-one in man coverage, it gives him more opportunity to make plays on the ball. His speed also allows him to reach sideline to sideline to get to the point of attack in time.
Although he struggles with receivers, Harrison plays well against tight ends and running backs in coverage. Even though most tight ends are bigger, his aggressiveness and athleticism allow him to make plays regardless. How he positions himself while covering them playing inside the route make it easier as well.
If you’re not convinced already that this kid would look great in a Chiefs jersey, let’s add in the fact that he is a great special teams player. In fact, in 2017 Harrison tied for the most tackles in special teams with 8. If there’s anything that the Chiefs coaching staff love it’s players that can play not only their position but contribute on special teams as well.
When Berry left for the season in 2015, what was the difference? The safeties in 2015 were much more versatile than the ones in 2017. Husain Abdullah and Tyvon Branch were able to play multiple roles all around the defense whereas Ron Parker and Daniel Sorensen struggled with the extra responsibilities. With Harrison’s experience playing both high and low safety, coverage skills, and pure athleticism, there’s no reason he shouldn’t succeed in the NFL.
Add that to hopefully having a healthy Eric Berry in 2018, the Chiefs could potentially have two playmakers at the safety position that can move about the defense and confuse quarterbacks. With Berry on the field, quarterbacks start by looking where he is lined up. If the Chiefs had two safeties that can play numerous roles, it would be a nightmare for opposing offenses.