The 2021 NFL Draft is loaded with talented pass catchers, which could give all 32 teams fantastic value outside the first few rounds.
One pass-catcher who has his draft stock moving in the right direction is Jacob Harris, out of UCF, who made tons of big plays for the Knights during his senior season.
Harris spoke exclusively with The Draft Network about his incredible and rare football journey, which position he sees himself playing at the next level, and why an NFL team should take a chance on him.
JM: Your journey is a rare one. You were planning to play professional soccer. You decided to give football a chance during your senior year of high school. You never looked back. How did you fall in love with the game?
JH: I fell in love with the competitive nature of football and how much camaraderie exists within a football team. You have to rely on the guys that line up to the left and right of you. It takes all 11 players to ensure that that play or drive is executed successfully. I thought that was special. Those are some aspects of the game that I fell in love with. I became incredibly passionate about football.
JM: You decided to chase that passion. You walked on at Western Kentucky and made the team. You later walked on at UCF and made the team there as well. What were those two experiences like?
JH: I enjoyed both processes. Western Kentucky was a brand new experience for me. It was my first time leaving home. It was my first time playing wide receiver. I went in there with an open mind. I tried to be a sponge. I soaked up every bit of information I could. I was still learning a new sport and position at Western Kentucky.
It was a similar process when I left Western Kentucky for UCF. My mindset was a little bit different, though. I didn’t take anything for granted once I got to UCF. I poured my everything into it. I pushed myself to the limit. I wanted to get everything out of myself. UCF gave me a huge opportunity and I wanted to repay them for that. I really put my best foot forward.
JM: Why did you make the decision to leave Western Kentucky for UCF?
JH: I’m from Palm Harbor, Florida. I had some family stuff going on back home. I had an aunt that was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. I had an uncle who was in and out of the hospital with heart problems. I grew up in a tight-knit family. There’s seven siblings on my mom’s side. We grew up together. My entire family was back home. Those two events hit close to home for me. It was tough. Being away in Kentucky, that was the first time I was away from home. It was hard to deal with. I felt the best decision was for me to be closer to home and to my family, while still chasing my football dream.
JM: I don’t think anybody can blame you for that. You made the right decision. You scored eight touchdowns as a senior this past year. What an incredible year. How do you look back on your final season?
JH: It was a great season. I accomplished a lot, but I didn’t accomplish everything I wanted to. I believe I still have a lot of room to grow. There are a lot of areas of my game that can get better. I’ve improved every year. I’ve made sure of that. I can’t take a step backward. I can confidently say that I’m always improving. I’m still just scratching the surface of my potential. If you watch my tape in 2018, 2019, and 2020, you’ll see that I got better every single year. I think that’s going to continue to happen at the next level as well.
JM: That’s wonderful. From a media perspective, some analysts see you as a wide receiver while others see you as a tight end. Have you gathered a consensus on which position the league sees you playing?
JH: The league is just as split as the media is (laughs). I’ve spoken with several teams. I’ve honestly lost count at this point. Some teams see me potentially playing as a hybrid-type tight end. Other teams see me as a wide receiver. It comes down to which offensive scheme I fit into. Whichever team drafts me, they’ll decide what they want me to do. I’m open to doing whatever. I believe I’m a very versatile player and pass-catcher. I’m willing to do whatever a team needs me to do.
JM: It sounds like you’ve met with a bunch of teams. What’s that process been like for you, and who are some of the teams you’ve met with?
JH: The process has been a fun one for me. I’ve enjoyed every second of it. It’s been a thrill. I can’t think of every team off the top of my head, but I’ve met with the Titans, Patriots, Cardinals, 49ers, Texans, Panthers, Giants, Jets, Rams, and Raiders to name a few. I’ve spoken with a bunch of teams. I’m thankful for this opportunity. I’m thankful that NFL teams are interested in speaking with me.
JM: There’s a lot of interest in you and it’s easy to see why. Do you have a favorite route to run?
JH: I love the deep routes. I love a go route or a post route. My favorite is probably a drag or a deep over, though. I love running those routes over the middle out of the slot position. There’s so much you can do with that. You can beat zone and man coverage with those routes. You can split that up the middle. I love the versatility of that route.
JM: You have terrific size. I believe you’re listed at 6-foot-5 and 219 pounds. Are those measurements correct and up to date, and how do you use that size to your advantage?
JH: I measured in at 6-5, 219 at UCF’s Pro Day. I was actually a bit lighter than usual at Pro Day. I usually weigh between 221 and 224. I weighed in at 219 on Pro Day. It was a solid number for me.
I use my size to my advantage in a lot of ways. I have long arms. I have an 81-inch wingspan. I use that wingspan to help me get off of press coverage. It helps me high point the football. It helps me block on the perimeter and in the interior as well. I feel like my stride length catches a lot of defensive backs off guard. From afar, it may not look like I’m running, but once I get up on you in just two or three steps, you’re in trouble now (laughs). Those are some of the ways that my size gives me an advantage.
JM: That’s a great point. I’ve really appreciated your time today. This has been great. In closing, why should an NFL team use one of its draft picks on Jacob Harris?
JH: I’ve said this to every team I’ve spoken with. I’m a selfless teammate. I’m versatile. I’m an athletic prospect. I’m still new to the game. I’ve only scratched the surface of my potential. You’re gonna get a guy that’s gonna soak up information like a sponge. I’m gonna work my butt off. I’m gonna help the team by doing whatever they need me to do in order to be successful.
- Sep 29, 2022
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