LB Malik Harrison, Ohio St.

6’3” – 247 lbs. – 4.66

Rotated into the defense as a reserve in his freshman and sophomore seasons, with thirteen tackles as a freshman and a 36-3.0-2.0 line as a sophomore. Took over a starting role the following year and went 81-8.5-2.5, then followed that up with 75-16.5-4.5 this past year. Lined up as the weakside linebacker during the games reviewed, usually in the box but occasionally shading over a little bit; very well-built for a Will and has the type of game that could easily allow him to play in the middle of an even front or on the inside of an odd front. Looks sound from a technical perspective. Plays under control, with good knee-bend and square shoulders. On-field temperament is patient and conservative, although his overall game is that of a downhill player. At his best when he’s reading keys and stepping into holes to make stops between the tackles. Has pretty good instincts and racked up a lot of stops in the backfield this past season, although his angles leave a little bit to be desired. Doesn’t look like he has the best length on tape but is pretty active with his hands and takes on blocks pretty well, although he can sometimes take circuitous routes to try and work around blockers. Reasonably explosive in a short area, but although he gives good effort in pursuit, struggles to chase down runners in backside pursuit; looks a little bit slower than what he timed at the Combine. Can help set the tone as a thumper on the first two downs. Stayed on the field on passing downs, although his coverage responsibilities were relatively limited. Was basically asked to play in a lot of short zones as a robber, occasionally also carrying a running back into the flats. Not the fastest or most fluid player, but looks technically sound in his drops and shuffles and keeps things in front of him. Does a good job of diagnosing, with effective plant-and-drive skills to deliver thudding hits on receivers and tight ends catching screens or crossing over the middle of the field. Might struggle to defend against backs and tight ends in man coverage, however. Has good short-area quickness to shuffle and find open lanes as a blitzer, and enjoyed a little bit of success in that role this past season, although he was mostly taking advantage of gaps between the tackles and isn’t an edge rusher who’s going to win with speed on the edge. Has two full seasons of starting experience under his belt, and actually looks a little bit more instinctive and technically sound than his background would suggest. Basically looks like a thumping, between-the-tackles middle linebacker who happened to play some weakside linebacker. Stands a chance of sneaking into the second day.

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