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Broncos Roster 2017: Chris Harris Jr

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The Broncos look forward to another year of elite play from the versatile corner and core member of the No Fly Zone.

Carolina Panthers v Denver Broncos
Harris after intercepting Cam Newton in Game 1 of the 2016 season.
Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images

Name: Chris Harris Jr.
Position: CB
Height: 5'10" Weight: 199 lbs
Age: 27 Experience: 6th
College: University of Kansas

Despite an absurdly low ranking of #63 on the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2017, the BroncosChris Harris Jr. is beginning to get the respect his elite play has more than earned. The 27-year old cornerback was recognized with his first selection to the 1st team on the Associated Press’s All Pro list in 2016. Along with that, Harris’s excellence while partnering with fellow cornerback Aqib Talib during the postseason run that ended with a Broncos victory in Super Bowl 50 brought him some well deserved recognition. Most recently, he got the nod as Pro Football Focus’s top rated cornerback of 2016 and appeared in PFF’s Top 50 list.

Harris is easily one of the biggest success stories to come out of the ranks of undrafted rookie free agents in recent years. As a 2011 rookie out of the University of Kansas, he won a roster spot and quickly settled into a role as the Broncos’ slot corner. It didn’t take him long to earn a starting job, though, and Harris has started 80 games since the beginning of the 2012 season.

The Good

There’s so much that could be written here. Chris Harris is one of the very best at what he does. If any one stat can put a cornerback’s excellence into perspective, it might be this: Harris strung together 36 consecutive games without allowing a touchdown. That’s more than two seasons’ worth of games in which no one could get by him. In an increasingly pass-happy league, a true shutdown cornerback like that is worth their weight in gold. It took Ben Roethlisberger passing to Antonio Brown, arguably the most potent offensive combination in the NFL, to finally crack the streak.

Not that that has slowed Harris down any. He heads up the No Fly Zone along with Talib, and together the Broncos’ CB duo spent the entire 2016 season giving quarterbacks an exceptionally hard time. In fact, the pair only allowed a combined 750 yards to be gained by throws into their coverage in 2016. You can’t ask for much better than that.

The Bad

Can I get back to you? The Broncos’ 2015 version of the No Fly Zone racked up an impressive -28.0% DVOA versus the pass, but the 2016 crew (which was essentially the same, aside from the backup safeties) improved that to -32.9%. Chris Harris Jr. is essential to that outcome, and he’s clearly in his prime. It’s hard to find bad for a guy when he can’t get much better.

Quotable

Harris mixed amusement and understandable frustration when asked about his #63 ranking in the NFL’s Top 100 Players of 2017 list. But Broncos fans may have a hard time being too upset about Harris having more bulletin-board material.

“It’s just motivation. It just adds more fuel to the fire. I might be the first First-Team All-Pro that didn’t make it in the Top 50. But I need something like that. Getting all of these accolades and awards—I guess it’s good to have at least one thing to keep me motivated. It’s a joke though (laughing).”

Harris is excited for the season, and looks forward to providing more of the same stifling defense that he and his No Fly Zone brethren have become famous for.

“We’re still going to bring the heat. We’re still going to play man [coverage]. We have little wrinkles that we can try to confuse the quarterbacks with to make them think. But, at the end of the day, we have our bread and butter.”

Status

Chris Harris Jr. is penned in as one of the Broncos’ starting cornerbacks in 2017. His roster status isn’t even in question. In fact, the only guy in a Broncos jersey whose roster spot is arguably safer than Harris’s is Von Miller.

Harris will be starting across from Aqib Talib for the fourth straight season, and they’ll be joined by Bradley Roby for the third straight season whenever defensive coordinator Joe Woods dials up a nickel package. That’s an excellent and highly unusual degree of continuity in the NFL, and if all three players can avoid injuries it should mean that the 2017 Broncos secondary will remain one of the best units the NFL has ever seen.

So enjoy Chris Harris Jr. and his fellows this season, Broncos Country. All-time Great units like the No Fly Zone don’t happen very often, and they never last forever. Let’s not take them, or him, for granted.

Poll

Does Chris Harris Jr. get enough recognition for his skills outside of Broncos Country?

This poll is closed

  • 5%
    Yes, he gets everything he deserves.
    (45 votes)
  • 22%
    Close, but he deserves even more.
    (188 votes)
  • 72%
    No, he deserves more recognition.
    (610 votes)
843 votes total Vote Now