Tackling: Thumper. Has quality contact balance coming downhill and when working laterally and has a solid range of influence. At his best exploding between the tackles and coming downhill into head-up contact. A bit upright into contact at times which will lead him to get rocked back by yoked-up runners.
Range: More comfortable closing downhill and has some pick-up to him to get on the run for boundary plays. Has a slower trigger for quick backfield action and will put himself at bad angles for boundary plays. With that said, top speed for a player of his size is impressive and he can tackle on the run with good aiming points and consistency.
Block Deconstruction: Cinderblocks for hands. Can uproot blockers in first and second level and will throw NFL-sized guards back into gaps and create traffic jams accordingly. Has the mass, length, and strength to hold off contact with one arm and still present a quality tackle radius while maintaining gap leverage. Needs to win with proactive contact and doesn't have enough short-area quickness to make contact miss in the second level.
Toughness: Eats nails for breakfast. Violent player in the box who will throw offensive linemen around and create collisions and contact everywhere in tight areas, limiting sunlight for running backs and freeing up his teammates. Quality on-ball player who has enough functional power to hold up against tackles and maintain outside leverage.
Mental Processing: Mixed bag across his roles. Has some really smart zone drops during which he's moving through his reads in time with the quarterback and denying multiple routes. Again, has some moments of great downhill triggers and smart fills in which he denies multiple gaps. With that said, doesn't read quick backfield action and boundary plays and has some hesitation leaving the tackle box, putting him behind the 8-ball and limiting his range.
Decision-Making: He's got a bit of a see-red get-red approach in the box but I don't hate it, especially if he gets to be a strong-side fill linebacker. Proactively comes downhill and initiates contact in the trees, which shuts down plays and creates TFLs he doesn't get credited for. Wish the same aggressiveness was there when reading the mesh and option ideas.
Short Area Quickness: Isn't a particularly agile player, but he'll still influence plays in tight areas with quiet feet and good length. Was protected from man coverage responsibilities or deep zone drops given his limits in transition, and will occasionally get cut back on in open space.
Man Cover Ability: Generally unmeasured as a result of his role in college. Rarely had to get connected to backs out of the backfield or carry tight ends down the field. Length and straight-line speed project well to running the seam with tight ends, but he'll get snapped off in space by shifty backs given his limited transitions
Zone Cover Ability: If he outplays his draft stock, it will be because he's really got elite zone cover instincts. Instincts, body positioning, and feel for routes developing behind him allow him to deny multiple short area routes and create PBU/INT opportunities that a lot of thumper linebackers often don't. Does hit a barrier in terms of depth and begins to get suckered in by shallow routes, allowing for intermediate windows to open behind him.
Round Grade: Late 3
Best Trait: Block Deconstruction
Worst Trait: Man Cover Ability
Player Comparison: Benardrick McKinney
Summary: Malik Harrison projects as a role player in Year 1 with situational starting ability early in his NFL career. Harrison is a thumping run defending linebacker with a decent coverage ceiling, but overall a limited role as he'll inevitably be challenged by NFL speed and quickness out of the backfield. Harrison can drop onto the line of scrimmage and blitz gaps with success, and will fill rush subpackages nicely and provide value on special-teams as well. Harrison is a limited player, but has a likable skill set and should stick around for a while in a role that suits him.