This year, the Rams might have the slowest slot WR and slot CB rookie duo in the history of the NFL. In the last post, we covered Jeremiah Haydel, a slot WR with an almost unbelievably slow 4.83 second 40 time. Not to be outdone, former UAB cornerback, Brontae Harris, is even slower. He ran the 40 in 4.87 seconds.
If Haydel and Harris were in a relay race against OLBs Chris Garrett and Max Richardson (both of whom run slow for edge rushers) it is possible the OLBs would win (Garrett's time was reported as either 4.81 or 4.88 seconds and Richardson was timed at either 4.83 or 4.87 seconds.) I wonder what would take longer, Haydel and Harris to each run 40 yards or Snead and McVay each spelling the name "Maximilian". The Rams have 2 rookies with that name, so McVay would probably bang his out in 2 seconds flat, but Snead running anchor could turn it into a photo finish.
Perhaps having the right mentor could help Harris overcome his athletic limitations. Harris credits former UAB teammate, Darious Williams, with teaching him a great deal about how to play CB. In 2017, Harris and Williams were roommates on the road. Harris says that Williams is his favorite NFL player. Now that the two are reunited, maybe Williams can show him the ropes once again, this time at the NFL level.
Turns 25 years old in November (Bobby Brown, a fellow rookie, turns 25 in 2025.) Communications and general studies major. Easy going personality in interviews.
Played primarily outside CB in college. A little at nickel CB.
Oldest of 5 kids. Played RB and CB in Alabama, initially for a small high school. He was also a big time scorer as a point guard in basketball.
Lightly recruited in football, started out as basketball player at Alabama A&M, where he redshirted in 2015. He decided he wanted to play football instead, a decision his parents weren't excited about, since he was giving up a scholarship in order to walk-on at UAB.
(William Hooper Councill founded Alabama A&M when he wasn't much older than Harris. Councill was born a slave and part of the campus of AAMU is the very spot where he was once sold as a young child and his family was separated. John Stallworth, who made a huge play against the Rams in the Super Bowl loss to the Steelers, went to AAMU.)
UAB was just starting back up their program, so they didn't play any games in 2016. In the spring of 2017, he got a scholarship. That fall, Darious Williams had a monster season with 5 INTs, 15 PDs, 50 tackles, giving up only a 36% catch rate. Williams was named PFF 1st team All American. PFF gave him a 93.4 coverage grade, 2nd best among FBS cornerbacks. Harris started 4 games that season. He had a long pick six against Rice and also played on special teams.
Despite having a fantastic 2017 season and a strong pro day workout, Williams wasn't drafted and the Ravens left him exposed to a waiver claim in the middle of the 2018 season. Maybe the Rams get partial credit for grabbing him, but if they had really done a good job scouting, why didn't they draft him? The Rams had multiple 7th round picks in that draft.
With Williams gone in 2018, Harris had to step up at UAB. While he wasn't as good as Williams, he still had an excellent year. He had 2 INTs, 13 PDs, 34 tackles, and gave up a 39.6% catch rate. PFF graded him as the 7th best FBS cornerback. He had an 89.6 coverage grade and a 90.0 overall grade. Harris had more PBUs than the next two UAB defenders combined.
Coming off this breakout season, Harris intended to declare for the NFL draft after the 2019 season. Instead, he got injured in a preseason practice on a no pads, 1 on 1 pass coverage drill. It was a Lisfranc injury, tearing a ligament in his left foot. He had surgery and was out the entire season. Harris said this was the first major injury he's ever had.
In 2020, Harris wore the number 1 jersey (changing from 33), which was the same number Williams wore at UAB. Team had 5 games cancelled, plus the bowl game and didn't play at all during the month of November. In 8 starts, he had one INT, 5PDs, a sack and 27 tackles. He had 4 career INTs at UAB.
5'9'' tall, 184 pounds, 30 1/4'' arms, 72 3/8'' wingspan, 9 1/8'' hands.
4.87 sec (40 time), 1.63 sec (10 yard split), 3 bench reps, 30.5'' vert, 8'9'' broad, 4.54 sec (shuttle), 7.71 sec (3 cone).
An historically bad workout for a small CB. Might be one of the worst ever for a player his size who got into an NFL camp. Per NFL Combine Results, Harris had the worst 40 time for his position this year, with the next slowest CB at 4.62 seconds, a full quarter of a second faster. Harris had the worst vertical jump, the worst broad jump, the worst shuttle time and the worst 3 cone time of all the CBs. He had the second to worst bench press, with the 3rd worst CB at 8 bench reps. Most CBs did between 11 and 20 reps. Joe Noteboom had a 4.44 sec (shuttle) and 7.65 sec (3 cone), so as a 309 pound offensive tackle, Boomer had better agility scores than Harris as a 184 cornerback.
Darious Williams is virtually exactly the same size as Williams, but their workouts are night and day different.
Williams: 4.44 sec (40), 1.52 sec (10 yard split), 39'' vert, 10'2'' broad, 4.34 sec (shuttle), 6.85 sec (3 cone).
Sports Illustrated called Harris feisty, very grabby in man coverage, shoots his hands too aggressively and whiffs in press, an ankle tackler and predicted that he wasn't going to make a roster.
Sports Illustrated's draft board was a little kinder, ranking him as the 17th best slot CB, with a priority UDFA grade. He was the 4th best UDFA slot CB per their rankings.
Not ranked by either TDN or PFN, even though PFN had over 850 players on their board.
Plays like a junk yard dog. Aggressive and physical style of play against both the run and the pass.
Quick to click and close on underneath routes. Very quick reactions and change of direction when he reads the play and triggers. Reads route combinations and tries to attack.
Times up his challenge well to knock the pass away with his hand.
Relatively patient feet in press.
Gets off run blocks and attacks downhill towards the ball. Threw blocking WR to the ground. Gives effort in run support.
Played on both left and right sides.
Has special teams experience. He was used as a blocker preventing the gunner from running downfield and on kickoff coverage.
Constantly grabs WRs downfield, both as they get into the route and when the ball is in the air. Had defensive holding penalty on first play of game.
Inconsistent staying with WR when he can't grab them. Got turned around on slant route. Gave up separation on comeback. Lacks short area burst to stay with explosive WRs off of the line when they get clean release. For example, the WR gives a basic hesitation and jab step, then runs a crossing route diagonally across the field. CB is immediately put in trail position and can't make up the step, WR catches the ball 10 yards past the LOS and tackles him from behind by the ankle nearly 25 yards from LOS.
Struggles to run across the formation if his WR goes in motion all the way across the field before the snap.
Too small and lacks play strength, can get shoved backwards or pushed away by bigger WRs. Not enough size and length to contest catch point if he isn't in perfect position.
Played against bad QBs.
Tends to jump on 1st thing he sees and can be late recognizing the threat of a 2nd route coming into his area. Stuck on first TE, didn't switch onto 2nd TE and was unable to prevent TD. Jumped on short route too aggressively, opening up space behind him for intermediate route.
Not a heads up, wrap up tackler, dives at the legs of the runner.
Most of playing experience has been at outside CB, lacks experience and athletic traits to be a good slot CB. Not suited to play safety if he struggles at CB.
Much older than most rookies.
Chris Smith (Rams UDFA 2011, Northern Illinois)
Smith was 5'9 3/4'' tall and 186 pounds. 4.73 sec (40 time), 9 bench reps, 31'' vert, 9'10'' broad, 4.26 sec (shuttle) and 7.46 sec (3 cone). Almost the same size, slightly better testing results. His final season in college, Smith had 3 INTs, 12 PDs and 63 tackles.
The Rams initially waived Smith early in the preseason, but added him later in the season after they had injuries to other CBs. He appeared in 3 games and had 3 tackles, then got released the following offseason. He later played in the UFL and in arena football leagues.
I like how competitive Harris is on the field, but I don't think he has the size and athleticism to make it in the NFL. The Rams can hope that UAB lightning will strike twice, but Harris isn't on the same level as Darious Williams as a pro prospect.