Jacob Harris doesn’t have any junior high school football film, nor does the Los Angeles Rams rookie have 40 games of action in a Central Florida uniform – which can label him a novice and raw prospect on the gridiron by some.
But that doesn’t mean Harris can’t be a studier of players who have a similar build to him, which could play into a breakout campaign on his end.
In fact, Harris revealed to reporters in his first training camp appearance on Sunday at Newport Beach, California who he draws his inspiration from: Watching Mike Evans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders and Jimmy Graham of the Chicago Bears – three guys he feels he resembles on the field.
Watching Evans While in Florida
Harris got used to watching Evans a lot while living in the Sunshine State: Buccaneer games were shown regionally where he lived and he cheered on the Bucs, especially during their Super Bowl run.
And that was where he began to become a fan of the 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver who has played in three Pro Bowls and won the 2021 Super Bowl.
“Growing up, I watched a lot of Mike Evans just because of his body type and style of play,” Harris told the L.A. media.
It’s easy to understand why Harris would liken himself to the Bucs’ star. Not just because of constantly watching his games on television, but Evans has established himself as a red zone threat in his eight-year career.
Plus, can win the one-on-one battles with ease using the height/speed combo.
Harris himself has made similar plays in the UCF uniform, especially inside the opposing 20-yard line as seen here.
Becoming a Waller and Graham Fan
One fast-rising star, however, has left Harris in awe: The Raiders’ Waller.
Waller came into the NFL as an oversized wide receiver out of Georgia Tech. He has since blossomed into one of the league’s premier tight ends, which has gotten Harris to liken his game.
“More that I’ve heard the possibility of tight end, I started watching guys like Darren Waller and Jimmy Graham, just guys who are bigger receiving tight ends who also have a big presence in the blocking game as well,” Harris said.
Plays like this is why Harris has become a fan favorite.
And has made crucial grabs like this one while facing tight coverage.
Similarly, Harris himself had to make the awkward catch by adjusting his own body. This reception against Houston captures him executing the always tough over-the-shoulder catch.
Graham has had the more decorated TE career compared to Waller with two 1,000-yard seasons and producing eight seasons of catching between 50 to 99 passes. Even while nearing his mid-30s, Graham can still pull off catches like this one against Harris’s favorite NFL team before his Rams arrival.
And this one-hander with two New Orleans Saint defensive backs next to him, winning this battle off of height, focus and determination.
This clip doesn’t show a one-handed end zone grab, but shows Harris beating two Rams in the end zone while having to adjust to the catch.
Harris Looking to Make Plays in the Three-Point Stance Too
Harris admits he’s got lots to learn on the NFL end, particularly making plays that require him to start with his hand to the dirt as he said. One big aspect he points out about playing TE? Gaining an understanding of defensive linemen alignments.
“Because at receiver, you’re only reading coverages, safeties, how the DBs are playing you,” Harris explained. “But then at tight end, it brings in a whole different aspect of, now you’ve got to read the front – is it a five-technique, six-technique? Different d-line fronts. You’re reading how the linebackers are playing, whether it’s three-man, four-man. Are they zone-in? Are they man-in? So there’s a lot more that comes into play, but like I said, it’s great because it’s more knowledge to the game and more knowledge that I can expand my mind (with).”
Harris is obviously still in a learning mode on the field. But if he can deliver the kind of plays he made in this video detailing his UCF days, then the Rams could have their own Evans, Waller or Graham.