Harris had 208 tackles, 39 passes defensed, 3 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 4 interceptions in four seasons (49 games) with the Redbirds. But what should we know about him beyond his stats? Let’s get to our conversation with Jonathan!
Rebecca Toback: What do you think about the Bengals’ addition of Davontae Harris in Round 5 of the draft?
Jonathan Willis: I’m interested to see how the Bengals decide to use Harris. He was a cornerback in college, but he might be better suited at safety. He has a bit of trouble matching up in man-to-man and can get beat deep. Harris is a very good tackler though and doesn’t shy away from coming up to play the run.
RT: What do you see as some of his strengths?
JW: Harris has a lot of strength for a defensive back. He put up 22 reps of 225 pounds at the NFL Combine, the third-most of any defensive back. He is a big hitter and is not afraid to make a play on the ball. Harris led the MVFC in pass break-ups as a junior in 2016 and was tied for second in that category this year.
RT: How about any weaknesses?
JW: He has decent speed, but his instincts aren’t great and he doesn’t always react as fast as you may want. Opponents were able to beat Harris deep at times and he was quick to try to clutch and grab in order to make up space. In the FCS, referees will let you get away with that some, but he won’t be able to get away with some of the things he was doing at the next level.
RT: Did you expect him to be drafted earlier/later?
JW: Coming into the draft, the consensus seemed to be that he would be a fifth round pick. Harris is still raw and will need at least a year to adapt to the NFL.
RT: Did he have any injuries of note during his time in college?
JW: In college, Harris didn’t suffer any major injuries. However, he had a rather bizarre injury that sidelined him for nearly the entirety of his senior year in high school. During the first game of the year, he took a cleat to the midsection and it caused a tear in both his small and large intestines. He didn’t play again for the rest of the season and FBS teams backed off of him as a result. Before then, he had been recruited by Kansas State and others, but there were concerns about whether or not he would be able to play football again. Illinois State only offered him a scholarship after being assured by doctors that he was going to be able to play.
RT: Anything else Bengals fans should know?
JW: Harris has a high motor and will give you a lot of effort on every play. As a rookie, he should be able to contribute on special teams and he could help out in nickel and dime packages too. Don’t be surprised if you see him land one or two big hits.