Malik Harrison: Reasonable expectations vs. year 1 ceiling for Ravens
Year one ceiling:
There is a part of me that thinks Harrison may be the most underrated player in the Ravens 2020 NFL Draft class. I saw him as a first round talent. He just seemed to always be around the football. He’s a big 6’3″ 247 pound inside linebacker who is almost built like an edge rusher. He looks the part and he was the leader of one of College Football’s best defensive units. He’s not Patrick Queen. Queen is supposed to be an all out superstar and there’s a lot of evidence to back up that assertion. I would argue though, that Harrison also has a chance to be a star. The Ravens may have just found two Pro Bowl caliber linebackers for this defense.
While 50 tackles is the modest guess for Harrison, 75 tackles is possible. At least in my evaluation, Harrison is a complete linebacker. He’s never going to be what Queen will be in pass coverage, and that’s not going to be his strength. That doesn’t mean he can’t do it adequately. C.J. Mosley wasn’t exactly Mr. Cover Linebacker and he got sent to a few Pro Bowls.
Harrison had nine sacks in three years at Ohio State and he’s a very proficient blitzing linebacker. There is no way that Don Martindale will ignore his skills when it comes to getting to the passer. If Harrison proves himself worthy in pass defense, he’ll get more action than L.J. Fort. Harrison was a downhill linebacker who played nasty at Ohio State. He’s going to bring physicality to the position and he should fit right in with the Baltimore defense.
His year one ceiling looks something like 75 tackles, two sacks and let’s throw an interception in there for good measure. That would be fairly in line with his last two years at Ohio State. With this good of a defensive line and with Queen playing next to him, it may just be a smooth transition to the NFL.
I could see a scenario where Queen and Harrison get the bulk of the work at inside linebacker position, with L.J. Fort rotating into the game. The year one upside is that Queen and Harrison will be a legitimately hard duo for NFL offenses to deal with.