The Denver Broncos were recently rated as having the #28 overall defensive line in the NFL by Pro Football Focus (and discussed more in depth here), so the opportunity for somebody in that group to step up and shine is wide open.
For someone like Jonathan Harris, those opportunities are becoming more scarce. Picked up as an undrafted rookie in 2019 by the Chicago Bears, Harris would soon make his way to Denver later that fall, where he has made his home since. Unfortunately for him, his time with the Broncos has been primarily been on the practice squad, and for his first three years, he didn’t have much of an opportunity for a call up.
Last season, though, largely due to rampant injuries, Harris was able to see some quality time with the active roster, appearing in eight games and starting in four, showing grit along the way. With perhaps his window closing, it will be imperative for Harris to carry that determined kind of play into training camp.
Height: 6’5” | Weight: 295 pounds
Arm Length: 33 5/8” | Vertical: 31” | 40-yard dash: 5.20 seconds
Age: 26 | Experience: Fifth season
Harris, for the first time in his professional career, got a pretty extensive experience on the field this past season. Injuries paved the way, but appearing in eight games and starting four, he accumulated 20 tackles, two tackles for loss, and a pass deflected
Broncos defensive lineman Jonathan Harris’s 2023 outlook
The team signed Zach Allen this past offseason from the Arizona Cardinals, but outside of him, there are reps available at the defensive end spot.
Former sixth-round pick Matt Henningsen will compete for time on the field, as will Eyioma Uwazurike and Elijah Garcia, but with the flashes he showed last season and his veteran mentality, he could be in line to make the 53-man roster for the first time in his career.
Harris is a feel good story about a kid who played Division II who made it to the NFL, but life isn’t a fairy tale, and he’ll have to prove his worth.
And unfortunately for him, his showing from last season probably won’t be considered as closely with the new staff as it would have with the old staff. Yet, with his newfound experience and lack of quality depth at the position, Harris could benefit and end up as rotational guy should he show out in camp.
He may never appear first in a Google search over the guy who played Dr. Smith in Lost in Space, but he can earn himself name recognition within the halls of Broncos HQ if he can capitalize in the next couple of months.