The New York Giants have slapped the franchise tag on Jason Pierre-Paul, which means the bookends of Pierre-Paul and Olivier Vernon will return to the defense next season. Still, both players were on the field for an extraordinary numbers of snaps — at least until JPP got hurt.
Young players like Romeo Okwara and Owamagbe Odghizuwa have potential, and Kerry Wynn is a workman-like veteran, but the Giants’ defense could benefit from finding one more pure edge pass rusher to take some of the heat off Vernon and Pierre-Paul.
Perhaps someone like Missouri edge rusher Charles Harris, a 6-foot-3, 253-pound speed rusher who could garner late-first round consideration. Harris had 16 sacks and 30.5 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
During a media interview at the NFL Combine over the weekend, Harris didn’t pull any punches about what he does best.
“I got here by sacking the quarterback. That's not a secret. So I feel like most teams are gonna play me how I'm supposed to get played,” Harris said. “That's me getting the quarterback. Me covering when I need to cover. When it's necessary, me playing special teams. Things like that. I'm big, I'm athletic, I can move. So really using my how I'm supposed to be used.”
He’s got speed coming off the edge — just ask him.
“I have a great first step,” Harris said. “I just thank God, just natural ability. To come out of that stance over and over and over in practice. That was our warmup — to come out of that stance.”
Chris had Harris among his “risers” from on-field defensive end/linebacker workouts.
Harris has issues as a run defender, but he is a terrific athlete with an explosive first step and a nasty spin move. He backed that up on the field and looked like a good fit as a “hybrid” edge rusher who could play as a rush linebacker or as a defensive end.
Harris believes he should be selected “top 15 at the least.”
“That's really how I feel. I feel like my natural ability, my upscale (upside) is just amazing. I feel like I'm still raw at the game, I'm young at the game. I think coaches all know that I'm yearning to learn more, I'm eager to be better. I'm eager to be great,” Harris said.
“Actually, football wasn't big thing in my house growing up. We didn't have Super Bowl Sundays, we didn't have certain teams hanging up in the rafters. I don't have favorite team. That's why when coaches are asking me, who you want to play for, I really want to play for whoever's gonna take the chance on me. And just like Mizzou took a chance on me, I'll make their investment worthwhile.”
Here is Harris’s spider chart, showing how he compares to other defensive ends.