The Atlanta Falcons took edge rusher Zach Harrison in the third round of April’s NFL Draft. At 6’5 and 275 pounds, he has the size and length on the edge the Falcons have lacked the last several years.
NFL.com draft analyst Chad Reuter graded every teams’ top rookie. Bijan Robinson and Matthew Bergeron were inactive against the Miami Dolphins, so Harrison fit the bill.
Reuter gave Harrison a ‘C’ for his work against the Dolphins.
“Throughout the team’s 19-3 win at Miami on Friday, he used his long arms and strength to hold up blockers at the line or push them into the backfield,” wrote Reuter on NFL.com. “He was part of the rotation throughout the contest, but his only stop came when slanting inside a lineman’s block to bring down rookie back De’Von Achane for loss in the second quarter.”
“Harrison played too high on a lot of snaps, getting washed out when lined up at 4-technique on a run play early on and allowing two ball-carriers to get under his tackle attempts near the line of scrimmage. He did not show great speed to the quarterback on two naked bootlegs run by the Dolphins, but he did hustle to the ball on one of them, pressing Mike White and helping to force an interception.”
Reuter was more generous than Pro Football Focus (PFF) with regards to Harrison. PFF graded Harrison at 37.3 on 27 snaps, placing him in the ‘F’ category. PFF graded Harrison harshly on tackling with a 23.1.
Zach Harrison fell to the third round in the draft because he’s an unfinished product. His production at Ohio State didn’t meet his physical prowess. It’s no surprise his early grades aren’t particularly high. The Falcons drafted Harrison as a long-term project.
Harrison and the Falcons are in action Friday night at Mercedes-Benz Stadium against the Cincinnati Bengals. FOX will televise the game locally at 7:30 p.m. It’s the next chance for Harrison and the Falcons to continue their development.