One of the position groups perceived as the weakest in the 2020 draft is linebacker, and rightfully so. There are however, talented guys who can make an impact on defenses and provide decent depth. One of my favorites coming into the 2019 season was Ohio State standout, Malik Harrison, who followed a strong senior season with a good showing at the combine. 6’3 247lbs, Harrison ran a 4.66 40 with a 36″ vertical and 122″ broad jump. I took a dive into the film to see how he projects to the NFL.
Strengths: Harrison is a bit of an old school thumper, a sure tackler who can stop a backs momentum cold. He has been productive with a nose for the football, recording 10 sacks, 9 pass deflections and an interception during his career while recording 205 tackles, 156 of which came in the last two seasons. Shows excellent discipline in filling his gaps and staying true to the scheme in the run game. Comfortable when asked to drop into zone coverage and athletic enough to do it comfortably. Seems to have strong natural instincts and processes quickly from a mental standpoint. More than adequate field and football awareness.
Weaknesses: Despite being an impressive athlete overall, Harrison is a bit clunky when asked to cover ground laterally. Does not appear comfortable in man coverage and will likely struggle if tasked to cover a back or tight end. There are times when he plays a touch slower than his athleticism suggests he should. Could be pigeon-holed as a two down backer early on in his career due to coverage limitations.
Overall Outlook: Malik Harrison is one of the better linebackers in this class, and I’m confident in his ability to be successful at the NFL level. He projects best as a true 4-3 Mike backer, probably the best in the class. I think he possess the tools and traits to thrive in a 3-4 ILB role as well. Harrison has pro bowl level potential once he adjust to the NFL and finds his role in the defense.