Images from the Cowboys 3-0 win over the Oakland Raiders, Aug. 13, 2012. Dwayne Harris #17 of the Dallas Cowboys dives for a first down just out of the reach from Pat Lee #26 of the Oakland Raiders in the third quarter.
Yesterday, I gave running back DeMarco Murray a third-round re-grade. That’s not because I don’t like Murray. Actually, I think he’s a very talented player, but the running back position as a whole is probably the least important in the league.
Using his original NFL Combine numbers, I’m going to grade third-year receiver Dwayne Harris in the same way in an attempt to show you where I think he’d belong in this year’s rookie class. At the 2011 Scouting Combine, Harris checked in at 5-10, 203 pounds. That already puts him at a major disadvantage because there’s an extremely strong correlation between size and success for receivers. Wes Welker aside, the best wideouts are typically well over 6-0 and 210 pounds. Go ahead and take a look at the top 10 receivers from 2012. The average height and weight is 6-3 and 218 pounds. Even players like Welker are less valuable than people think because those sorts of slot receivers rarely score touchdowns.
If a wide receiver stands below 6-0, he better be a burner. Harris isn’t; he ran a 4.55 40-yard dash. That’s hardly too slow to perform in the NFL, but it’s not what you’d like to see in someone so short. That means Harris is a guy who will have trouble separating even when given space, but also issues succeeding in the red zone when space is at a premium.
Harris’s best time at the Combine was probably his 4.21 short shuttle. That fits well with what we see from Harris on the field; he’s not fast, but he’s fairly quick. The problem is that there are lots of quick players who are small, so there would be no reason to overpay for Harris in a draft format.
I like Harris and I think he’s a very talented return man, but he shouldn’t be the team’s No. 3 receiver as some are suggesting. In addition to Miles Austin’s ability to play the slot, Harris isn’t as talented as third-round pick Terrance Williams. That’s especially true in the red zone, where Harris basically becomes useless.
Re-Grade: Sixth Round
I’m giving Harris a grade of exactly where he was picked in the sixth round. That’s because of his return ability alone; he doesn’t have the physical makeup to consistently dominate on offense. That doesn’t mean he can’t be an effective player, but it wouldn’t ever be smart to draft a 5-10 receiver with 4.55 speed prior to the middle or late rounds.
Jonathan Bales is the founder of The DC Times. He writes for DallasCowboys.com and the New York Times. He's also the author of Fantasy Football for Smart People: How to Dominate Your Draft.