This offseason, a major goal of the Detroit Lions was to improve the team’s roster on the defensive side of the ball. With multiple picks, they were able to do just that, but it could leave a few veterans in a precarious spot.
That’s especially true along the defensive line, where the Lions added Aidan Hutchinson as well as Josh Paschal to the roster in the draft. The team also brought back pass rusher Charles Harris in free agency, and all of the additions since may have only complicated what he could do for the roster.
The latest Lions news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lions newsletter here!
Harris was Detroit’s most consistent pass rusher in 2021 with 7.5 sacks and multiple big plays in the pocket. That good news might be short-lived, however, if he sees any type of scale back in snaps or action which could come as a result of having so many young pieces on the team.
If that happens, Pro Football Focus writer Jonathon Macri will not be surprised. In a piece rating IDP winners and losers in terms of fantasy football after the NFL draft, Harris was revealed as one of his biggest losers. The reason? Detroit has plenty of pieces coming in as well as coming back, and could suddenly be stacked on the edge.
“It’s going to be difficult to expect a significant role from any of the Lions edge defenders outside of Hutchinson, so they may all be taking a hit this season in terms of playing time,” Macri wrote in the PFF piece.
Harris will have to earn his keep all over again in 2022 and may have tough duty replicating the numbers he had last season. Even though that’s the case, there could still be compelling reasons not to bet on him staying a draft loser for long.
Why Harris Could Still Be Productive for Lions
While many could see what the Lions added this offseason and proclaim Harris a near-immediate loser, the flip side of this analysis revolves around the fact that the defensive lineman has been in the NFL for a while and also understands the team’s defense. There figures to be a learning curve for most rookies, which means that for the minimum of a month, Hutchinson and Paschal could take their time coming along for the team. That could leave Harris as a player that sees plenty of time and plenty of chance to step up on the field given his confidence within the scheme and knowledge of it as well.
Harris figures to be ready to go for 2022 immediately, and given what he was able to do for Aaron Glenn and the Lions last year, he may already have the confidence of the staff that other younger players will have to keep earning. That’s an important variable to remember when considering Harris’s success or failure statistically during the coming season.
Harris’s Career Stats & Highlights
Winner or loser as a result of roster decisions, it’s obvious that the Lions wanted to build around Harris for the future. The defender always seemed like he had talent that could help him cement a bigger role in Detroit leading into the 2021 season. He was a former first-round pick out of Missouri back in 2017, and while he might not have lived up to the grade with the Dolphins, it’s clear he does offer some upside in the trenches. Harris has 6.5 career sacks, but 3 of those came when he was playing with the Falcons during the 2020 season. Harris also had put up 79 tackles, 4 passes defended and 1 fumble recovery in his career before joining the Lions.
Harris has yet to show signs of being a consistently elite pass rusher in the NFL throughout his early career, but managed to offer the Lions some help off the edge given the major need Detroit has at the spot. The Lions re-made their defense this past offseason, and in previous years the team did not show an ability to get after the quarterback. Harris helped that disappear himself with 7.5 sacks for the team during the 2021 season.
Here’s a look at his best work in Detroit so far from last year:
It’s obvious how Harris has already helped the Lions, and though the team added to the roster, he could still play a solid role for the team in 2022. Many see that fact as complicated, however, making his case one to watch.