Despite being a day two pick, there’s an opportunity for Malik Harrison to shine as a rookie. What could his debut look like for the Baltimore Ravens?
Inside linebacker was a weak spot in an otherwise great Baltimore Ravens defense a season ago that got some heavy investments this offseason. Baltimore spent first and third-round picks at the position in the forms of Patrick Queen and Malik Harrison respectively. When looking at Patrick Queen’s fit on this defense it seems perfect… Queen has one of the starting spots secured, all the position needs now is a partner in crime. That same person could very well be his fellow rookie compadre, Malik Harrison.
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Harrison has a real chance to start next to his fellow rookie in the middle of the Ravens defense in 2020. Part of that is due to a lack of talent at the position, but it also should speak highly of Harrison and his potential.
The Ohio State product racked up 156 tackles over his final two seasons in Columbus, including a whopping 25 TFLs and six sacks. Harrison snuffs out the run as good as any linebacker and is an absolute thumper in the middle of the defense.
Where Malik Harrison does struggle is in pass coverage, where he simply isn’t fast or fluid enough to be an elite guy in coverage. However, that’s where Harrison will be the “Yin” to Patrick Queen’s “Yang”. Where Harrison isn’t as instinctive in coverage, Queen excels there. The same can be said vice versa of Queen vs. the run compared to Harrison vs. the run. These two will simply make up for each other’s deficiencies and make a heckuva duo.
With all this in mind, Malik Harrison is far from guaranteed a starting role, as Baltimore may opt to start the season with a veteran like L.J. Fort or Chris Board. While that may be the case initially, it would be surprising if Harrison weren’t starting by midseason. The potential that he has is simply greater than the guys (likely) ahead of him.
Still, make sure you don’t place expectations on Harrison to be a 16 game starter or 100 tackle guy the way we are pegging Queen to be. Harrison will grow into his role slowly.
For the Baltimore Ravens, any impact in year-one from Malik Harrison is a huge win for them. Harrison could easily become a starter for the defense and make a big difference early in his career. At the same time, Harrison may need more time to develop before he becomes the superstar we think he could be. The key to our expectations here is to set them low and simply let Harrison out-play them. The potential is there for Harrison to be something great, but patience is key.
Malik Harrison 2020 projected stats: 50 tackles, two sacks, two forced fumbles