Asante Samuel gone? Not so fast! No, the Asante Samuel trade to the Falcons was not revoked and he is still a falcon. However, the Philadelphia Eagles may have an exact replica of Samuel in Cliff Harris. Harris, an undrafted rookie free agent out of the University of Oregon, is considered a long shot to make the roster by default. However, let’s take a look at the similarities of the two and why so many Philadelphia Eagles’ beat writers are including him on their end of training camp roster.
First they are both about the same dimensions. Samuel is 5′ 10″ 185 lbs. Cliff Harris is an inch taller and a mere five pounds lighter. They are both quicker than they are fast which lead to
They both have incredible instincts making them ballhawks. Samuel’s most interceptions in a single NFL season (16 games) is 10. Harris had seven interceptions in a 13 game season. That pace would give him approximately 9 interceptions in a 16 game season. Granted Samuel made those interceptions against the likes of NFL caliber quarterbacks like Manning, Brees and Rivers. However, Cliff Harris was making it against the best of the best in college. Three of those seven interceptions were against former number 1 overall draft picks: Andrew luck (2 picks) and Cameron Newton (1 pick in the national championship game). Another two picks came against Matt Barkley who is currently projected as the number 1 overall draft pick in 2013. Add in the fact that in the same season Harris had 23 passes defended (1.77 per game) which led the NCAA and you have one hell of an impressive resume.
Nevertheless, after missing all of the offseason minicamps due to an incredulous rule not allowing him to participate Cliff Harris has been the brightest light at training camp. In his limited time on the field, Harris had several interceptions and multiple pass breakups impressing everyone including head coach Andy Reid “[Tuesday] he learned a couple lessons down in the red zone. We ran the same route against him today and he broke it up. That’s a good sign that he could learn from his mistakes”.
Fortunately for the Eagles, Harris does not get knocked for his lack of physical play as virtual clone, Samuel, did. On top of his physical play, Harris is a man to man cover corner who can play both inside and outside. He was also a special return specialist in college averaging 18.8 yards on punt returns (second in NCAA) and lead the NCAA with four punt returns for touchdowns.
After trading Samuel the Philadelphia Eagles only have 3 cornerbacks with significant NFL playing experience leaving 2, maybe even 3, cornerback roster positions available. Cliff Harris is a hot candidate for one of those roster spots.
So how does such a quality, elite even, college player go undrafted. Like most talented players that do, they get into trouble with the law. The Eagles are taking a low-risk, high-reward chance on Harris. If classy veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha can help Harris get and keep his head on straight (and by the way it sounds like he does), the Eagles will have the biggest steal of the entire draft. All-in-all for an undrafted rookie free agent and missing all of OTAs, Cliff Harris has a great chance to make the Philadelphia Eagles final roster.