Harrison Hasn't Hit his Ceiling and Can Be a Force in the NFL | Washington Commanders
By Adam Aniba
The 2023 Edge Rusher Draft class features a few blue chip prospects in the top 25. After the first round though, the drop off is substantial with many prospects better suited to play 3-4 OLB.
One particular defensive end prospect was the top HS pass rushing prospect in the nation in '18, but hasn't lived up to his potential thus far and could be lethal if he puts it all together. Ohio State edge rusher Zach Harrison boasts the size and athleticism to be a an impact disruptor on the next level.
6'5 1/2" 274 lbs | DE | OSU
Proj 5th Rd
Career (40 Games)- 97 TAK (58 solo), 24.0 TFL, 11.0 SACK, 2 QBH, 1 FF, 4 FR, 1 INT, 9 PD
'22 Stats (13 Games)- 34 TAK (20 solo), 8.0 TFL, 4.0 SACK, 3 FR, 1 INT & 4 PD
Harrison grew up in Lewis Center, OH and was the star edge rusher for Olentangy Orange HS. He only played in 7 games as a senior, but still registered 14 tackles for loss and 7 sacks.
Harrison was named as a 5-star prospect by Rivals, in addition to being ranked as nation's #1 defensive end. He was also the the #1 prospect in Ohio (1st Team All-Ohio) and the #5 overall prospect nationally.
Harrison was a physical specimen who ran a 4.47 second forty, 10.7 seconds in the 100 meters and 21.5 seconds in the 200 meters at 6'5" 255 lbs. His national attention drew an invite to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
The Olentangy Orange HS edge rusher drew interest from Alabama, Penn State, Michigan, USC, Clemson, OSU just to name a few. Harrison ultimately committed to play for the Buckeyes for the '19 season.
As a freshman in '19, Harrison was active in 14 games. The edge rusher played 281 snaps in a rotational role, registering 19 tackles (13 solo), 4 sacks and 7 QB pressures.
The following season the Buckeyes pass rusher played in 7 games, recording 9 tackles, 22 total pressures, 1 QB hit, and 2 sacks. For his efforts, Harrison received 2nd-Team All-Big Ten honors.
In '21 Harrison's role was dramatically increased with 558 snaps played in 12 games. As a team captain, he registered 28 tackles, 28 pressures, 4 QB hits, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 4 pass breakups.
In addition to being one of the team captains, Harrison received 2nd-Team All-Big Ten honors for the second consecutive year
Last season Harrison had his best season as a Buckeye, playing in 12 games registering 17 tackles, 31 pressures, 3 QB hits and 4 sacks. After a career season, Harrison received 1st-Team All-Big Ten honors and graduated last December with a degree in criminology.
Displays impressive speed in pursuit (sub 4.5 second forty)
Opportunistic, effectively utilizes his length to bat down passes and force fumbles (36" arms)
Ideal NFL edge rusher frame with room to add more mass
Strong prospect with powerful hands, displays the ability to quickly disengage from would be blockers
Displays good timing off the snap with minimal waisted movement
Lack of career sack production is level for concern
Leverage is an issue and plays too upright/stiff
Change of direction ability is less than desirable
Relies exclusively on jab step and bull rush, needs to develop counters
Tendency to take questionable pass rushing angles at times, which led to scramble lanes
Hopes were high for Harrison coming out of Olentangy Orange HS, but his lack of statistical output has been below par for a former 5-star recruit. In saying that, putting the OSU edge rusher on a line with established defensive lineman, would put him in better position to progress and refine his pass rushing arsenal.
His physical attributes, athleticism and speed will help him greatly as rotational player early in his career. His ability to also slide inside in sub-packages will certainly help his cause as well.
Harrison's progression over the last year is notable with the majority of his forced fumbles and tipped balls occurring in '22.
Some view Harrison as an underachiever based on his national attention in high school and lack of his production. Nonetheless, the OSU edge rusher is ideally suited to be part of a rotation early on, but has the ceiling the start in time with refinement.
*Games Watched- 9/3/22 vs Notre Dame, 10/22 vs Iowa, 11/5 vs N.Western, 11/19 vs MD, 11/26 vs Michigan & 12/31 vs UGA
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