In the fourth round of the NFL draft, the Los Angeles Rams surprised some when they selected another wide receiver. That player was Central Florida’s Jacob Harris. However, after finding out that the Rams were going to move Harris to tight end and learning about his athletic profile, fans were left excited about Harris’ potential.
That excited has since gone through the roof after the Rams and head coach Sean McVay raved about Harris during OTA’s. The ceiling for Harris is high, the only question is whether or not he’ll hit his potential.
Jacob Harris is an ultra-athletic TE who boasts 90th+ percentile marks in speed, burst, agility, and catch radius. Harris was a wide receiver at Central Florida, but the Los Angeles Rams designated him as a tight end. This means he could become a mismatch for opposing defenders trying to contain the athletic and explosive big man.
Kyle Pitts is in a league of his own, but it should be noted that Harris matched Pitts’ 4.40 40-yard dash time at his Pro Day. When looking at size-adjusted speed scores, Harris ranks 29th since 2000. In addition, Harris’ 6.41 3-cone time is the best mark ever posted by a tight end. For context, Harris’ 3-cone time was better than Christian McCaffrey’s (and would be the 2nd best mark ever). Harris’ burst score (173.5) is also a positional best.
Most Athletic WRs by SPORQ Score Since 2006
1. DK Metcalf
2. Julio Jones
3. Chris Conley
4. Calvin Johnson
5. JACOB HARRIS
Most Athletic TEs by SPORQ Score Since 2006
1. Vernon Davis
2. Kyle Pitts
3. Rob Housler
4. Jimmy Graham
5. Noah Fant
6. Evan Engram
7. JACOB HARRIS
— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) April 10, 2021
Jacob Harris has already been making waves at Rams OTAs this spring. Early reports out of Los Angeles Rams training camp suggest that Sean McVay is excited about Harris’ potential, even calling him his “special project”. McVay has a knack for unlocking the hidden potential of his players through his offensive schemes.
With fellow tight end Tyler Higbee absent, Harris saw a significant number of snaps at both voluntary and minicamp practices with the first team. It is invaluable for a rookie to get early practice reps with the first team. Successfully converting from wide receiver to tight end is his first task. However, if Harris can put it all together, he could quickly become a unique weapon in a high octane passing attack. As McVay noted during OTAs, Harris’ “natural range, catch radius, body control for a player his size is pretty rare.” The Rams analytics team, which is managed by Sarah Bailey, may have hit gold with this draft selection.
On the downside, Harris enters the league at 24 years old and his college production leaves much to be desired. Matthew Stafford has shown a propensity to target big body receivers who can win downfield. Harris has the size and athleticism to get open downfield or in the red zone and make contested catches. To call Harris the next Megatron may be a bit premature but it’s within the realm of possibilities given his athleticism and size. Realistically, the most likely positive outcome is for Harris to be the next Robert Tonyan type tight end.
Fantasy Football Outlook
Harris will need to work up the depth chart to become fantasy relevant. Currently, Tyler Higbee is the team’s undisputed TE1 with the departure of Gerald Everett in free agency. However, McVay has been known to utilize more than one tight end. In 2020, McVay continued to shift away running 11-personnel in favor of two tight ends sets.
In Weeks 13 and 14 of last year, the Rams featured 12-personnel on a majority of the team’s snaps, per NFL Next Gen Stats. The result was a more efficient offense, producing 5.6 yards per play compared to 4.3 ypp when running 11-personnel sets. If McVay continues to increase his usage of two tight ends in his offensive playcalling, Harris could have an opportunity to share the field with Higbee (pending his ability to pass Hopkins on the depth chart).
The Rams have switched to feature 12 personnel on a majority of their snaps in their past two games, almost tripling their usage compared to Weeks 1-12.
Rams 12 Personnel Rate
Weeks 1-12: 23% (9th)
Weeks 13-14: 59% (1st, only team over 40%)#NEvsLA | #RamsHouse
— Next Gen Stats (@NextGenStats) December 11, 2020
2020 fourth-rounder Brycen Hopkins is also an athletic playmaker at the position. Hopkins is a smooth route runner with a complete route tree. Hopkins is also a vertical threat. The Rams seem to have liked Higbee and Hopkins enough to let Everett walk in free agency. Harris has his work cut out for him if he wants to become a fantasy force in the future. As a result, Harris is better left on the waiver wire in season-long leagues. However, keep him on your radar for 2022 and beyond. In dynasty leagues, Harris is a strong stash on your taxi squad.
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