Jets Sign Versatile Former NFC Starting Defender: Report

Marcell Harris 49ers

Getty Former San Francisco 49ers defender Marcell Harris walking off the field after an NFL game.

The New York Jets continue to stay busy ahead of the 2022 NFL draft.

On Thursday, April 21 they hosted former San Francisco 49ers defender Marcell Harris on a visit, per Doug Kyed of Pro Football Focus.

A short while later, Mike Garafolo of NFL Network confirmed that they are indeed signing Harris to a contract:

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An Interesting Name

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The 27-year-old (will be 28 by the start of the 2022 season) is a very intriguing name.

He originally entered the league as the No. 184 overall pick in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL draft.

During his time at the University of Florida, he was featured as a safety that excelled both as a thumper and in coverage:

  • Over 102 total tackles
  • Two interceptions
  • Played in 27 games

Although heading into that 2018 draft, Harris was recovering from a very serious Achilles injury that robbed him of his final season in 2017.

Over the last four years with the 49ers he has played in over 52 games and has started in 20 of those contests. While known as a safety, Harris also got some opportunities to play as a linebacker in the NFL.

The talented defender crossed over with current Jets head coach Robert Saleh for three seasons from 2018 through 2020 while he was San Francisco’s defensive coordinator.

Clearly, They Have a Type

VideoVideo related to jets sign versatile former nfc starting defender: report2022-04-21T17:21:29-04:00

We’re entering Saleh’s second season running the operation for Gang Green and we can now confirm that he has a type.

Last year the Jets openly flirted with Keanu Neal, a former first-round safety who made the conversion to linebacker in 2021.

Then during the 2021 NFL draft, the green and white took two swings of the bat at former collegiate safeties (Hamsah Nasirildeen and Jamien Sherwood) who became linebackers.

Now working out and then signing Harris ahead of the draft? I’m sensing a pattern.

Another trend that is becoming clear and obvious is the Jets’ apparent lack of confidence in the depth of the linebacker room.

This now makes two linebacker visits for the Jets joining veteran Kwon Alexander who they hosted earlier this week.

They clearly need another starter and depth is severely lacking, especially if an injury were to occur.

Harris is a nice depth add who has some starting experience. Worst case he can immediately step in as a key special teams contributor with the upside as a role player.

In NFL draft analyst Lance Zierlein’s pre-draft analysis he said the versatile defender has “high personal character” and has an affinity for laying people out.

You didn’t see it much in Saleh’s first season, but he wants to continue to bring culture guys inside the building that can spread the gospel of what his philosophies are all about.

It is an extremely common strategy for new young coaches to bring players in from their past. They have scheme familiarity with what you’re trying to do which accelerates the learning curve.

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