DAVIE, Fla. -- On-field evaluations in the NFL can be tricky this time of year. But arguably the most impressive player during organized team activities open to the media thus far has been Miami Dolphins first-round pick Charles Harris.
The Missouri alum, taken No. 22 overall by the Dolphins in April, has shown a consistent motor and has been disruptive to the offense. Harris had two sacks in a recent practice last week against starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill.
Not every OTA practice is open to the media. But according to Miami’s coaching staff, Harris is routinely making plays this spring.
“It is consistent,” Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said. “He’s really done a good job of trying to implement the techniques we’re asking him to do and doing everything in the run game (and) passing game exactly what he’s coached to do.
"It’s hard to predict how far we can take and what’s going to happen when we get in pads. That’s going to be a different world just because we’ll be able to do some different things offensively as far as the run game goes and some of the trap game type things.”
In other words, the Dolphins are cautiously optimistic by what they’ve seen so far from Harris but won’t get too excited. This is, after all, football in shorts. A majority of offensive calls are passing plays because it’s extremely difficult to accurately simulate the run without pads and with limited contact. That provides an advantage to the defense, and particularly edge rushers like Harris.
The early battles between Harris and 2016 first-round pick Laremy Tunsil have been fun to watch. In a battle of top picks one year apart, Harris has made a good share of plays against Tunsil, whom the Dolphins believe will develop into a franchise left tackle.
“It’s been competitive,” Harris said of his snaps against Tunsil. “Tunsil is a great player, a great tackle. It’s fun, because I remember the first time I went against him he actually gave me a message and told me what to do. It’s the first day of OTAs. I think he reached blocked me and he said, ‘You have to buckle and set the edge basically.’ In my mind, I was appreciative.”
Harris’ role is still to be determined. But early indications are he will help on third down as a pass-rush specialist as a rookie. He is currently behind veterans Cameron Wake, Andre Branch and William Hayes on the depth chart.
Harris has done a good job of making a good first impression. But his second impression, during training camp, should be more telling of where Harris stands as he tries to carve out a role.
“That will be a new world for him with what we’re going to do in training camp,” Gase said. “I think it’s just going to be an evolving process for him. He’s just going to keep learning and see how fast he can adjust to the pro game.”