Jan 10, 2011; Glendale, AZ, USA; Oregon Ducks defensive back Cliff Harris (13) intercepts a pass intended for Auburn Tigers receiver Emory Blake (80) in the 2011 BCS National Championship game at University of Phoenix Stadium. Auburn defeated Oregon 22-19. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

Mid-Round Cornerback Prospects for the Dallas Cowboys: Cliff Harris

This is a series that will run through the “black hole” known as February. In my first post, I argued that drafting a defensive back is a crap-shoot and that they should be drafted in bulk in the mid-rounds, especially in this deep draft class. These posts will be listed from least likely to most likely to be drafted by the Cowboys. The first is Cliff Harris, a 2nd round talent with a 6th round attitude.

Scouting Report: These are snippets from various NFL scouting sites, including Fansided’s own NFL Mocks: “Good tackler for his size… Big play ability at the next level… He should be at least 190 pounds to enter the NFL (he’s 165 currently)… Get(‘s) burnt frequently going after the big play… Does not really have great man on man or zone cover skills. He cannot be left alone to cover a receiver at this point.” (NFL Mocks) “Does not have elite straight-line speed… Can be beat by beat by double-moves or a well timed pump fake.” (FF Toolbox) “Has the production and shows the ability on the field…Legitimate concern on how his game will translate to the NFL… Growing character concerns.” (Mocking the Draft)

Cliff Harris in some ways reminds me of Asante Samuel, in his undeniable skill but tendency to take ridiculous risks. Samuel has had a solid career, but has had competent safety protection his entire career, something the Cowboys (obviously) doesn’t have.

His lack of size (5-11 165 pounds) will mean his impact to the Cowboys will be minimal, and any added dimension added by his return skills could be found in a similar, less risky, high character player who could be found in the 6th or the 7thround.

His recent problems with the law will almost assuredly take him off of the Cowboys radar, and with the Cowboys going the way of BPA under-sized punt returners will be far down the Cowboys needs list, in between starting quarterback and starting tight end. He has no versatility whatsoever, no ability to cover large receivers and an overactive impulse to jump the pass, traits that will not endear him to impatient Cowboys fans.

That leaves the question “can he be fixed?” I don’t think so. He was criticized for slacking off over the summer, and at one point was clocked with a 4.8 (!) forty time.

The Cowboys have never seemed to be able to take toolsy athletic cornerbacks and turn them into beasts on the edge, and it doesn’t seem like that is a legitimate possibility here. Similar players (Jonathan Wade and Jack Williams) have flopped in the NFL and while Harris has the benefit of return ability, that tool alone isn’t worth more than a 6th round pick. In what he can contribute, think of a shorter, less gifted, even more monumentally screwed up Dez Bryant and that’s pretty close. Actually, Dez Bryant is a more apt comparison than Asante Samuel.

Possibility of selection in rounds 3-5: 15%

Possibility of falling: 35%

Possibility of rising: 50%

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