Brandon Harris is one of the few picks from last year that did not pan out as many had expected. Harris spent a majority of the season on the inactive list due to the depth at a position that few would’ve thought would be a strength after the abysmal season the defense had put up a year earlier.
Harris, a second round pick out of the University of Miami, was expected to come in and play immediately. However, due to a poor preseason and the vast improvement made by nickel corner Brice McCain, it put Harris in a bench warmer role. However, when Jason Allen left for Cincinnati in the off-season it left Kareem Jackson with no one to split time with. It remains unlikely that McCain will climb from nickel corner to split time with Jackson on the outside, thus opening a roster spot for Harris.
In Coral Gables many thought that Harris was one of the top corners in the country. He was voted to the All-ACC team his sophomore and junior year and was a second team All-American in his sophomore year. After his junior year he declared for the draft and began the process as a potential first round pick. The fact that he fell to the second round, however, only helped his career. If he had been taken in the first round his journey last year would’ve been impossible because a first round pick would be killed by fans and the media if he wasn’t ready to be on the gameday roster. However, as a second rounder, he could fly under the radar and learn under veterans like Jonathan Joseph and Jason Allen and avoid the media storm that attacked Kareem Jackson at every turn the previous year.
Starting at minicamp this year Brandon Harris has been one of the most pleasant surprises of not just the defense, but the team as a whole. He claimed that at some point between organized time activities and training camp he had an epiphany and the coaching staff has taken notice. John McClain recently tweeted “Perhaps the biggest surprise of the Texans’ preseason has been the terrific performance of second-year CB Brandon Harris.” Andre Ware mimicked those sentiments in a recent interview with Texans All Access; Ware said of Harris “I’ve been blown away by his progress.” However, most important was Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s recent assessment of the second year corner when he said “[Harris] is playing really well. [He] has shown a lot of improvement. [He] played better on special teams last night too.”
The Texans were lucky enough to see former second round picks Connor Barwin and Ben Tate come off injuries last year and be incredibly productive combined with last year’s other second round pick Brooks Reed. While they didn’t have a second round pick this year after trading out, it should be a nice surprise to see Harris in a much more active role this year without Jason Allen. It’s next to impossible for Harris to win the league’s most improved player award after the season, however, it is extremely likely that Harris is the most improved Texan at least thus far.
The Texans have youth at a lot of positions which makes the future very bright. Whether you look to the offense with Foster, Tate and the plethora of new young receivers, or the defense with Watt, Barwin, Reed, Mercilus, or McCain, you can’t help be impressed with the way the young guys have stepped up. Expect Harris to match most of their performances this year, and if he does the Texans will make a deep run in the playoffs.