Outside linebacker Charles Harris registered 65 tackles (34 solo), 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles this season for the Detroit Lions. Harris was one of four NFL players to log at least 65 tackles, 7.0 sacks and two forced fumbles. The other three were Aaron Donald, Micah Parsons and Haason Reddick.
It was a breakout season for the former first-round pick, who never really found a fit in Miami and Atltanta his first four seasons before signing with Detroit this offseason and moving from defensive end to outside linebacker. His 7.5 sacks were more than he had in his first four seasons in Miami and Atlanta combined.
"The first thing that jumps out to you on film when you watch Charles is his effort, his effort, his effort," Lions outside linebackers coach Kelvin Sheppard said. "In Atlanta (where Harris played in 2020), they even had him playing in the 5-technique some ... where Nick Williams and (Michael) Brockers were playing (in Detroit's defense last year).
"He never complained about it, I heard. I spoke to some people in Atlanta and he never complained. Everyone I talked to always said, 'Great kid. A little different personality, but once he trusts you, you have him and he's all in.' That's exactly what I got. I mean I don't know why it didn't click for him in the previous four, five years because the kid that I got that showed up for training camp ... the things the whole world is seeing, I saw that since the Day 1 of training camp because he bought in and he plays his butt of every single play."
Harris is coachable and willing to do anything to help his team, and this was a big year for him to show show his talents when put in the right position. Sheppard said sometimes it's just a matter of finding something that clicks with a player. It clicked for Harris playing outside linebacker in Detroit.
So will the Lions make a play to re-sign Harris? Sheppard certainly hopes so, but as a former player himself, he said he really just wants to see Harris do the best thing for him.
"Honestly, this is a player that ended up at the end of the season being my highest productive guy," Sheppard said. "Anytime you are able to do that, you'd love to have that guy back in your room.
"But I understand, I sat in that seat two, three years ago. This is a chance of a lifetime (entering free agency) for a player coming off a career year. And I always tell the guys, 'Listen, to each his own. Obviously, I would love to have you here,' but this is a time… to change the trajectory of these guys' family lives and he has a chance to do that, so I'll tip my hat.
"If he's a Lion, obviously I'll be ecstatic. If he goes somewhere else, as long as it's right for him, I'll be ecstatic."