Every year in the NFL draft there is the expected and the unexpected. Going into the draft there's always the highly-touted prospect like a Peyton Manning, and then the guys who go late, and if they turn into great, become everybody's Cinderella stories.
The Tom Bradys (seventh round), the Terrell Davises (196th overall) the Herschel Walkers (114th overall). If it wasn't for teams drafting these hidden gems, athletes like these honorable mentions would've never emerged as NFL greats.
In the 2011 NFL Draft my hidden gem stands at an impressive 6'2", 217 pounds and lurks in Troy Polamalu land. He hails from Las Vegas Nevada, and if I was a gambling man which I am, I'd bet this Missouri safety makes an immediate impact for any of the 32 NFL teams that choose to take him in this year's draft.
His name: Jarrell Harrison.
His accolades: Named the Southern Nevada offensive player of the year as a senior in 2005 (quarterback). In that same year, a year where offensively he had 729 passing and 683 rushing yards, and 11 throwing touchdowns to complement 13 rushing touchdowns, Harrison that same year was named to 1st team All-State cornerback.
At corner, Harrison had 62 tackles and two interceptions. How many guys can say they played on both sides of the football and did so with tremendous success. 2005 was the year Harrison led his team to the Class 4A state championship game. Impressive much?
Harrison attended Reedley Community College and the City College of San Francisco before winding up at the University of Missouri in 2009. Most notably at CCSF, Harrison in his 2008 season had 118 tackles and five interceptions winning a 1st team All Conference honor as a safety.
In his first year at Missouri in 2009, Jarrell surged onto the scene recording 41 tackles, one sack and one interception that sealed the deal against Kansas State. Harrison received a 2009 spring team most improved safety award that year.
In 2010, his final year of eligibility before entering this year's draft, Harrison improved in every aspect of his game. This past season Harrison had 69 tackles and two interceptions. Those two interceptions came in the last two games of Jarrell's career at Mizzou ending his career in a big way.
Harrison was a "key player" in Missouri's secondary before the Iowa-Missouri Insight Bowl matchup. His five tackles and huge interception proved critics right.
Jarrell is a strong safety with a linebacker mentality. He's proved he can play against the NCAA's best, come up clutch in big games, and at 6'2", 217 and 4.5 speed, is an NFL quarterback's worst nightmare on a Strong Safety blitz.
Guys like Harrison don't come around often, but when they do, the upside is tremendous. I'll see you all in a couple years when I'm writing about this strong safety for one lucky team in the League.
Until next time...