Ronnie Harrison Scouting Report By Charlie Campbell
Natural strong safety
Excellent run defender
Can separate the ball from the receiver
Comes up with splash plays
Reads a quarterback's eyes
Functional in zone coverage
Functional in zone coverage
Should contribute on special teams
Should be able to play quickly
Experienced and successful against good college talent
Should be able to play immediately
Had knee surgery as a sophomore
Missed some tackles in the early going of 2017
Could use some development in coverage skills for the NFL
Could struggle as the single-high deep free safety
Not a good man-coverage matchup for slot receivers
Ball skills need work; dropped interceptions
Summary: In the passing-driven NFL, safety play is critical even though the position has been devalued in the NFL draft to an extent. Teams need safeties who can help cover receiving tight ends and play-making receivers, plus stop the run. Harrison is a gifted athlete who can help a defense in a variety of ways.
After serving as a backup during his freshman year, Harrison put together a strong 2016 season for Alabama in his first year as a starter. He totaled 86 tackles, seven passes broken up and two interceptions that year. In 2017, Harrison notched 74 tackles with 2.5 sacks, three interceptions and four passes batted.
What Harrison does best is serve as a strong safety in run defense. He was superb as the eighth man in the box for Alabama. There is no doubt that Harrison is a tough run defender who is physical, strong, and a forceful tackler. He quickly diagnoses run plays and shows some explosion to hunt down the ball-carrier. In the ground game and in pass defense, Harris is a violent hitter who punishes offensive players. He could grow and get consideration to play dime linebacker given his ability to hit and tackle.
Harrison has some weaknesses in pass coverage for the NFL. He has the physical talent to play man, but he allows too much separation and should be protected from doing that in the NFL. Slot receivers and tight ends can gain separation from him in and out of their breaks. That was evident in his sophomore year when Clemson's Hunter Renfroe had his way with Harrison. Zone coverage playing the short to intermediate part of the field is a much better fit for Harrison. He should be sound in zone coverage and is a hard hitter who is a true enforcer in the middle of the field. Harrison also shows nice ability as a blitzer.
For the NFL, Harrison fits as a strong safety and should not be played as a free safety who mans the deep center field. Harrison projects as a late first-round or second-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Player Comparison: Landon Collins. Harrison is very similar to former Alabama safety Landon Collins. Both are excellent run defenders who are good tacklers and hard hitters. They also have limitations for how they can be used in pass coverage. Collins was the 33rd-overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft, and Harrison could go in the same area. In the NFL, I think Harrison will be a lesser version of Collins.
NFL Matches: Los Angeles Chargers, Seattle, Dallas, Carolina, Indianapolis, Tampa Bay, San Francisco, Cincinnati and Washington
In the back half of the first round, there are a few landing spots for Harrison. The Los Angeles Chargers are probably the highest that Harrison could hope to go. They have had a hole at safety since Eric Weddle departed in free agency, and Harrison would give them an enforcer on the back end of their defense.
Seattle is starting to revamp of its great defense, and there has been a lot of rumors that the Seahawks could move on from Earl Thomas, plus Kam Chancellor's playing future is in doubt. Harrison could be a replacement for Chancellor.
Dallas is also in need of a safety upgrade after losing Barry Church to free agency. Harrison would be a nice fit for Rod Marinelli's scheme.
Perhaps the most likely landing spot for Harrison in the first round is Carolina. The Panthers' safeties are ancient and need to be upgraded. Harrison's ability to also play some dime linebacker could help the team eventually replace Thomas Davis.
In the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft, there are a lot of potential landing spots for Harrison. The Colts have a trio of second-round picks, and Harrison could form a talented young tandem with Malik Hooker.
Tampa Bay could use a safety upgrade next to Justin Evans. Harrison could be a nice addition to improve one of the more vulnerable pass defenses in the NFL.
San Francisco could consider a safety in the first round, but if the organization addresses another position, Harrison would make a lot of sense if he gets to the team's second-round selection. Eric Reid is a free agent, while Jaquiski Tartt and Jimmie Ward are in the their last year of their contracts. Both of those latter safeties were picks by the previous regime. The 49ers will probably revamp their safeties for their new scheme, and Harrison could be their strong safety.
Washington could consider looking for a safety upgrade. The position isn't a screaming need, but Harrison could be in play for the Redskins if he's the best player available.