The Bengals have turned to Ohio State in the past two NFL Drafts to fill out their roster. Is Malik Harrison the next Buckeye they select from Columbus? The Senior Bowl and NFL combine standout could be exactly what the Bengals defense needs. Harrison has the tools to be an excellent linebacker in the NFL.
Pros: Harrison is a strong, powerful player and a good athlete. He has the speed to be the sideline-to-sideline middle linebacker that everyone is looking for. He is a good, reliable tackler who fills downhill and shoots gaps to make plays in the backfield. When serving as the cutback player he shows the discipline to play his technique, and the decisiveness to break once the running back has committed.
Harrison takes on blocks and can generally disengage to make the play. When asked to play as a standup edge on the line of scrimmage, he holds the edge well and forces cutbacks.
Cons: Harrison was not asked to do much in coverage. He was mainly a spot-dropper. He was also asked to spy the quarterback. He saw some man coverage and was not particularly impressive. He does not bring anything special to the table as a pass rush either.
He can be indecisive, bouncing around a bit, instead of quickly reacting to his reads.
Red Flags: None
NFL Comp: Demario Davis
Bengals Fit: Harrison could eventually be paired up with Germaine Pratt as the team’s two primary linebackers in nickel as well as their five-man defensive front. He will need to prove himself in coverage in order to establish himself as the long-term answer.
Draftability: Pick 33 would be a bit high for Harrison, but he is likely to be available for the Bengals pick 65 at the top of the third round.
Summary: Harrison is an excellent tackler and very good athlete. He has demonstrated the ability to defend the run, but will need to develop in coverage in order to succeed in the NFL.