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Camp Spotlight: Safety Will Harris


Position: Safety

Ht/Wt: 6-1, 207

College: Boston College

Experience: Rookie

Outlook: The Lions moved up seven spots in the third round of this year's draft to take Harris, giving up one of their sixth-round picks (204 overall).

Harris played all over the field at Boston College as both a free safety and in the box, and we've seen some of that early on in Lions training camp and in the preseason. His athletic traits are off the charts, running the 40-yard dash in 4.41 seconds at the Combine with a vertical leap of 36.5 inches.

He was a four-year starter at Boston College, and came into the league with a lot of experience. The NFL is a different animal than college, however, and Harris has a lot to learn. He can learn from the veteran safeties in Detroit. His athletic traits and versatility could get him on the field sooner rather than later, even if that's in sub-package looks.

Harris started all 12 games as a senior at BC last year, making 75 tackles and intercepting one pass.

Practice report: Harris worked himself into the first-team defense Wednesday during the first of two scheduled joint practices with the Texans. He came in as a substitute, and was also the third safety in one particular sub package that featured a three-safety look. Harris has the size, strength and speed to play the deep middle of the field and also up in the box. We saw both Wednesday.

The thing that will come for him as he gains experience is the game will start to slow down. He's not quite there yet. He was a little slow to diagnose a red zone play that led to him being a little too late to get over to the corner of the end zone on Tyron Johnson's red zone touchdown.

Part of the learning curve for Harris will also be taking proper angles as it relates to the speed of the game at this level and getting off blocks. Texans left tackle Matt Kalil got ahold of Harris in space on a screen play and used his 108-pound weight advantage over Harris to take the rookie out of the play in a team period.

Harris is improving every day, and the Lions are finding ways to get him on the field more and more throughout camp.

Quotable: "Will is a really smart player and he is a really smart guy," Lions head coach Matt Patricia said. "Coming from Boston College, he understands that he just is trying to absorb as much as possible. He does know that he's in a room with some very experienced players and I think he's trying to gain as much knowledge from them as possible.

"There are just things that come with the game, from playing the game, and when you're a young player and you don't have those game reps, you have to try to absorb it from the veteran players. That's what he's really trying to do a good job of from that standpoint. So, I think it's been a good room, and those guys are working well together, and we just have to keep improving overall for the progress of Will."

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