Like many Saints fans this offseason, I viewed Wide Receiver as one of the biggest needs for this team going forward. When the Saints were on the clock with the 13th overall pick and the top defensive players were off the board I was sure the pick was going to be Devante Parker. As the draft progressed I was sure the Saints would take one of the top remaining receivers, however the front office and coaching staff decided to put their trust in last years undrafted rookies Brandon Coleman and Seantavius Jones. They also went back to the undrafted rookie pool and added what I believe could be the next gem.
R J Harris was the leading receiver of the FCS Division out of New Hampshire, and he is an intriguing addition to the wide receiver corps. Consistently productive at the FCS level with 3 straight consecutive 1000 yard seasons his most productive being 2014 when he had 100 receptions , 1551 yards and 15 touchdowns as well as 10 rush attempts, 77 yards and 2 touchdowns.
NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein described Harris as at his best down the field with adequate deep speed with good concentration and ball tracking. Doesn’t let defenders crowd him against sideline downfield. Creates space for himself and is able to adjust to the ball and finish tough catches. High-point catcher with good hand strength. Has some shiftiness to his game after the catch and is able to create yardage with bouncy short-area quickness. Consistently productive. Has average height for an outside receiver, but an above-average skill set when the ball is in the air.
The concerns with Harris are that he is not athletic enough to play in the NFL or to separate from pro calibre cornerbacks. He has tight hips and is slow out of his breaks, however he did perform well at his pro and on tape he looks to have adequate game speed rather than timed speed.
When looking for a pro comparison for R J Harris the most common one has been Robert Woods, the former USC and current Bills wide receiver.
R J Harris Robert Woods
Height 6’0” 6’0”
Weight 191 200
40 Yard Dash 4.52 4.51
20 Yard Split 2.63 2.67
10 Yard Split 1.64 1.62
Bench Press 18 14
Vertical Jump 37 ½ 33 ½
Broad Jump 10’07” 9’09”
Short Shuttle 4.20 4.36
3 cone drill 7.23 7.15
This proves that Harris has the athletic ability to succeed in the NFL.
While it is a long shot that Harris makes the Saints 53 man roster at the start of the season, he could follow the same path as Coleman and Jones have. Spend this season on the practice squad coming into next season ready to compete in camp. Who knows, maybe he could even be a gem and follow a similar path to Marquez Colston and earn snaps in his first season.