Detroit Lions Free Agency: The Case for New York Jets OLB David Harris

Ben LorimerSenior Analyst IIJanuary 17, 2011

CHICAGO, IL - DECEMBER 26: Matt Forte #22 of the Chicago Bears breaks away from David Harris #52 of the New York Jets at Soldier Field on December 26, 2010 in Chicago, Illinois. The Bears defeated the Jets 38-34. (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

Along with a starting cornerback, the most pressing need for the Lions is at outside linebacker. Although Bobby Carpenter and Ashlee Palmer were pleasant surprises, Detroit's linebacking corps would benefit by having an experienced playmaker at outside linebacker.

At 26, David Harris is one of the bright young things of the league. In 2009, he earned All-Pro second team honors. At 250 lbs., he is big for an outside linebacker, but even at that weight he is remarkably athletic.

In his NFL career, he has suffered just one minor injury, in 2008. He is a very good open field tackler who wraps up well. As seen in the Patriots-Jets playoff game, he does not get lost in coverage. He also blitzes well, which has helped see him become a star in Rex Ryan's blitz-heavy defense.

He is also used to cover tight ends one on one in full man coverage sets and is one of the best in the business at shedding blocks.

In 52 starts, Harris has recorded 428 tackles, 14.5 sacks, three interceptions, 10 pass defenses and five forced fumbles.

The New York Jets will not want to give up Harris, but so far they have not penned a contract with him. He did suffer an almost career ending injury in his freshman year at college, but does mean that he is an injury-risk player. The Jets also have a lot of depth at inside linebacker, so may not want to offer him the big contact he wants.

He may also want to move to Detroit. He played his college football in Michigan and, as a young player, would be able to grow with the Lions. A chance to be a veteran leader would also appeal to a man such as David Harris.

Harris would give instant credibility to the Lions linebackers. He and DeAndre Levy would be more or less interchangeable at the middle linebacker spot, and the final outside linebacker starting spot would be Palmer or Carpenter. 

As a premier run stuffer, he would help contain the big outside runs which the Lions normally give up, and his coverage skills would free Louis Delmas to play as a deeper, roaming free safety.

Harris would also get plenty of open blitz opportunities because of the dominance of the Lions front four. His blitzing ability would diversify the Lions defence and make it less predictable.

Harris will be a valuable commodity if he reaches free agency. He is a three down linebacker who can play inside or outside in any formation.

In a strong free agent linebacker class, he is probably the best.

Odds of being in Honolulu blue in 2011: 55 percent.


For more articles in this series check out:

Detroit Lions Free Agency: The Case for Minnesota Vikings DE Ray Edwards

Detroit Lions Free Agency 2011: The Case for Baltimore Ravens OT Jared Gaither

Nnamdi Asomugha: Why the Detroit Lions Should Try To Sign Him for a Playoff Run

Detroit Lions Free Agency: The Case for Washington Redskins CB Carlos Rogers