The Las Vegas Raiders are getting ready for this month’s draft. In the meantime, we continue our review series, this time, underdog safety Erik Harris.
By now, we know the story of safety Erik Harris: A potato chip factory worker, who also played in the CFL. At some point,you would figure he may have thought he was not going to be in the NFL. He signed with the Raiders in 2017 and for the most part, he was a solid special teams player and showed lots of heart. In 2018, he saw more of the field more often, including four starts as well and a couple of interceptions. 2019 though is where he made his mark.
In the season opener against the Broncos, many wondered how the Raiders would respond after the Antonio Brown failed. The question was answered quickly as the team controlled the game and defeated the Broncos 24-16. The game did have a setback, as Johnathan Abram suffered a season ending injury, which left a void to fill on the secondary. Veteran Curtis Riley got the starting nod the next two games and the results were underwhelming. Both games resulted in losses and the Raiders defensive backfield was repeatedly ravished.
Harris was a given he shot against the Colts in Week 4. He responded with seven tackles and a game sealing pick six. The defense performed a lot better with Harris as a starter and from there, he became a fan favorite. Against the Bears in Week 5, he had six tackles and delivered a key fourth down pick up on the game winning drive. Harris, for the majority of the season, was reliable. He was constantly in position to make plays and always seemed to make a play on the ball.
His two biggest games of the season came in a span of four days as the Raiders won a tough game against the Lions on a Sunday in which Harris picked up 11 tackles and a pass defensed. Then came one of the most memorable performances of the year on Thursday Night Football. On the Chargers first two possessions, he recorded two interceptions and returned one of them for a touchdown. He almost got a third pick, but it was wiped following a Raiders penalty. Besides the interceptions, he had three passes defensed on the way to a huge win.
In the Oakland Finale, Harris walked all around the stadium and shook hands with fans following the tough loss. He was not spectacular, but he was not the sole reason why the Raiders lost. He ended the year with 74 tackles, three interceptions and two defensive touchdowns. He had almost an identical number of tackles in the first and second half of the season, 36 and 38 respectively. With Abram returning from injury this year and the Raiders letting Karl Joseph walk, Harris figures to still see plenty of time on the field and remain an integral part of the secondary rotation.
The Raiders picked up Jeff Heath, but he wasn’t exactly a splash signing, so unless the Raiders go safety with one of their two first round picks, Harris could be in a battle for a starting position. Harris was not spectacular by any means, but he was consistent and he has a team that believes in him. Expect more of the same in his fourth year with the Silver and Black.
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