From now until the 2023 NFL Draft, we will scout and create profiles for as many prospects as possible, examining their strengths, weaknesses, and what they can bring to an NFL franchise. These players could be potential top 10 picks, all the way down to Day 3 selections and priority undrafted free agents Today, I’ll be profiling Ohio State EDGE Zach Harrison.
#9 Zach Harrison, EDGE, Ohio State (Senior) – 6054, 274lb
|Player||Ht/Wt||Hand Size||Arm Length||Wingspan|
|Zach Harrison||6’5 1/2”, 274lb||10||36 1/4||85 1/2|
|40-Yard Dash||10-Yard Dash||Short Shuttle||3-Cone|
|Broad Jump||Vertical||Bench Press|
— Possesses tremendous size, height, and length
— Athletic frame with long limbs and condor-like arms
— Wins with the long arm as a pass rusher and run defender, forklifting blockers backward
— Arm length aids in his ability to get first contact against the run
— Sheer size and length can be a problem for smaller blockers
— Will counter back inside across blocker’s face when he sets up OTs with long arm/bull rush
— Hustles to the football with good closing speed and burst
— Will pursue the football downfield and chases the QB on the pass rush
— Does a good job on twists and stunts to get into open gaps
— Has played with his hands in the dirt along with some experience in a standup position
— Can kick inside in sub package to rush against guard while mainly lining up on the edge
— Has shown the capability of dropping into the flats in zone coverage
— Has a knack for knocking passes down at the LOS
— Pretty thin lower half that could use more functional mass/strength
— Fairly slow out of his stance when getting off the ball
— Can be slow to get off and shed blocks
— More methodical and mechanical than fluid as a pass rusher
— Long limbs result in more segmented movement
— Has a large surface area for blockers to get hands on
— Battles himself in terms of pad level and leverage
— Can have balance issues when he stands straight up, depleting his power
— Not quick as an athlete, having to take long transitions back to the ball
— Counters are telegraphed and not smooth
— Top recruit with great athletic gifts but minimal production in four seasons
— Doesn’t have much in his toolbox as a pass rusher outside of long arm
— Can appear disinterested at times in terms of attempting to make splash plays versus just doing his job
— Senior Prospect from Lewis Center, OH
— Born August 14, 2001 (age 21)
— Nation’s No. 1 defensive end and top recruit in Ohio in 2018
— Played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and The Opening in 2017 and 2018
— Enrolled in winter 2019 semester classes and took part in spring ball
— Ran 10.7 in the 100 meters and a 21.5 in the 200 meters in high school
— Appeared in all 14 games in 2019 (two starts) and totaled 24 total tackles (14 solo), 5.5 TFLs, and 3.5 sacks
— Played in seven of eight games in 2020 (one start) and made 14 tackles (six solo), 4.5 TFLs, two sacks two PBUs, and a fumble recovery
— Started 11 games in 2021 and made 25 total stops (18 solo), six TFLs, two sacks, three PBUs, and a forced fumble
— Started 13 games in 2022 and posted 34 total tackles (20 solo), eight TFLs, 3.5 sacks, an INT, four PBUs, and three forced fumbles
— Two-time team captain (2021-22)
— First-Team All-Big Ten (2022), Two-time Second-Team All-Big Ten (2020-21)
Zach Harrison appeared destined for the NFL since his high school days when he starred at defensive end as one of the top recruits in the 2018 class. He committed to the Buckeyes in-state and proceeded to play four seasons at Ohio State, racking up 27 starts while earning All-Big Ten honors as a two-time team captain.
When watching Harrison on tape, you see a long, powerful defender with impressive size and height. He looks like a power forward on the gridiron, having the wingspan of a condor that allows him to establish first contact with offensive linemen often. He loves to utilize the long-arm move both as a pass rusher and run defender as you can see here. He knocks LT Jaelyn Duncan back in the pocket before countering inside to take down the QB for the sack.
Harrison had himself quite the game against the Terrapins last season. He racked up back-to-back sacks with the first coming above and the second coming on this play where Harrison catches Duncan leaning into him in attempt to combat his length and rips off the block after his initial punch, turning the corner to strip the QB. The ball falls into the hands of his teammate, who waltzes into the end zone for six.
Harrison’s size and length can be difficult to handle for blockers, whether it’s run or pass. Watch this rep. He sticks his right arm into the OL attempting to block him, long arming him away from his frame as he chases down the QB in the open field who gives himself up on the play.
Harrison’s long arms can be difficult for smaller blockers like LT Peter Skoronski. In this clip Harrison lands his punch on Skoronski’s shoulders, extends his arms to lock him out, then sheds the block to get in on the tackle right at the LOS.
A former sprinter in high school, Harrison plays with great pursuit to the football on most plays, like in this example against Notre Dame. He sees the pitch to the RB and turns around and gets on his horse to make the tackle outside the hash.
If you want to see a good example of Harrison’s effort in pursuit of the football, watch this play. He is initially cut by the RB as he comes off the edge but keeps his footing and makes the tackle on the QB scrambling from the pocket.
Despite having exceptional length and athletic ability, Harrison did not produce to the expectation of being the top DE recruit several years ago and a potential first-round pick before the 2021 season started. He lacks technique as a pass rusher, having little in his toolbox outside of the power rush with the long arm and the occasional counter inside. He is a segmented rusher who doesn’t have a lot of burst and bend around the corner and battles against himself in terms of his pad level which can cause him to get knocked off balance. Here are two consecutive rushes in which we see Harrison struggle to win around the corner as a traditional edge rusher.
Harrison is also light in the pants when it comes to his lower half and being able to sit in and anchor against the run. He can be slow to disengage from blockers and can get pushed backward if he doesn’t sit and utilize his power, like on this rep against Northwestern. He gets stood up by Skoronski as the back runs through his gap close to the first-down marker.
Zach Harrison is a freaky athlete that has yet to put it all together and turn his traits into production on the football field. He has the size and length to play as a base 4-3 DE but has shown the ability to standup as a 3-4 OLB. His best fit at the next level would be as a base DE who uses his size and length to overwhelm blockers with shorter arms while being able to kick inside and rush against slower, shorter-armed OGs on passing downs.
When watching Harrison, Taco Charlton came to mind as a near-identical physical comp (6’5 5/8”, 277lb, 34 1/4” arms) as well as a stylistic comp who uses his size and length to win as a pass rusher. Charlton was drafted in the first round back in 2017, having the immense physical gifts. But he couldn’t translate it into production with the Dallas Cowboys and has since bounced around the league as more of a depth/rotational pass rusher.
I foresee Harrison having a similar role in the NFL: a player that will always interest teams thanks to his pedigree and physical profile but lacking the technical skill and execution to become an every-down player at the next level. The Steelers need an edge defender to back up T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith and they brought in Charlton a year ago, suggesting they could have interest in a player like Harrison. However, Harrison isn’t much of a fit for their scheme, meaning it’s unlikely that they would take him over a better scheme fit come April.
Projection: Day Three
Depot Draft Grade: 7.0 – Backup/Special Teamer (5th Round)
Games Watched: at Northwestern (2022), vs Notre Dame (2022), at Maryland (2022)