In the fourth round of the 2021 NFL Draft, the Los Angeles Rams selected wide receiver Jacob Harris out of UCF. The Rams made it immediately known that Harris would not play wide receiver and instead they would switch him to tight end. This move made sense given Harris’ size and the fact that the team lost Gerald Everett in free agency.
Given that Harris was going to have to switch positions, some thought that it might take him some time to develop. He was already a raw prospect and with a switch to tight end, that would be even more so the case.
However, the potential was through the roof as he averaged 20.1 yards per catch during his UCF career and he scored nine touchdowns on just 49 receptions. Harris was drafted with elite size and speed. His 9.28 RAS score for a tight end ranked second in the class behind only Kyle Pitts.
All 32 teams in the NFL have started OTA’s meaning #TheCycle is strong. Players that are typically at the bottom of the depth chart are making noise and building hype. Whether or not you believe that hype as the players take practice reps in shorts is up to you. However, it’s also still worth noting and keeping an eye on.
One player who has impressed during OTA’s for the Rams has been tight end Jacob Harris.
Jacob Harris Catching Eyes
Alright yeah we are gonna have to keep an eye on Jacob Harris.
— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) June 8, 2021
When Jourdan Rodrigue says something, I tend to pay attention. She was one of the few to hype up the Los Angeles Rams defense as a potential special unit last season and she was 100% correct. Harris has seen first team reps. According to Rodrigue, “rookie tight end Jacob Harris — especially with starter Tyler Higbee present, but not practicing — has clearly gotten thrown into things head first.” Rodrigue added that Harris was in the mix alongside quarterback Matthew Stafford upon some closer installation work and that he received close one-on-one instruction from tight ends coach Wes Phillips.
Additionally according to the team’s website, “the 6-foot-5, 211-pound rookie tight end had an over-the-shoulder catch deep down the left sideline off a pass from quarterback John Wolford during 7-on-7 work.”
Harris has caught the attention of head coach Sean McVay. This should only bode well for a potential role in the offense.
When it comes to reports like these, it’s hard not to get excited. However, we should still proceed with caution and add context. Players such as Brian Quick, Fendi Onobun, and Tavon Austin always seemed to impress in training camp in shorts, but were never able to translate that to Sundays. At the end of the day, that’s what is more important.
Still, seeing that Harris is playing well in OTA’s is much better than him not impressing and it’s worth at the very least keeping an eye on the situation.
Harris Following the Same Track as Other Tight Ends
Harris may be raw and relatively new to the tight end position, but it’s unlikely that the Los Angeles Rams use him as a prototypical tight end. This isn’t going to be a player that always lines up in-line. He’ll be someone that they split out wide similar to a Darren Waller. This is a large reason why Harris’ position switch shouldn’t be too much of a concern.
It’s also not unheard of for big, elite athletes to switch to tight end and find success. Antonio Gates played basketball, but at 6’4 he likely wouldn’t last in the NBA. He arranged a NFL workout and ended up with a Hall of Fame career. Jimmy Graham also played basketball and had just one year of college football experience. However, scouts were impressed with his size and speed. Graham has also carved out a potential Hall of Fame career.
Darren Waller played three years of wide receiver at Georgia Tech. Waller started his NFL career as a wide receiver, but switch to tight end after his rookie season. This comparison might be the one that is most similar to Jacob Harris. Waller also stands at 6’5 like Harris and is 255-lbs. Harris will need to gain some weight, but the size is there for him to carve out a similar role.
It’s worth noting that it took a few years and a new team for Waller to finally break out. Waller dealt with substance abuse and therefore didn’t hit 100 yards in a season until year four when he recorded 1,100 yards.
Jacob Harris’ Early Role with the Los Angeles Rams
You can take the offseason hype regarding Jacob Harris however you want. Maybe he carves out an early role in the offense, maybe he doesn’t. The real test will come when players put on the pads and start playing games.
However, with Harris, the Rams have minimally added a player that brings a skillset that the team didn’t have before. Gerald Everett was never going to be a red zone threat and box-out defenders to win jump balls. The Rams tried to use him as a deep threat, but had limited success.
The same could be said about Josh Reynolds. Reynolds was solid, but he became more of a possession receiver than a big bodied deep threat that can win the jump ball and stretch the field.
Harris has the potential to be both.He has the elite size and speed, but will need to be able to utilize both to realize his potential.
In all likelihood, Harris will see minimal time in year one. McVay might have certain packages for him and he could play on a limited basis. The good news for Harris is that Brycen Hopkins hasn’t seemed to impress early in his career. Tyler Higbee is also the only other tight end on the roster. The opportunity is there.
Jacob Harris has impressed during OTA’s. Hopefully he continue that momentum through the offseason and into training camp.