Chris Harris Jr. has epitomized the phrase “shutdown corner.” He can go up top and fight for the ball with the likes of AJ Green, Mike Evans, or Julio Jones. He can cover smaller wideouts or slot receivers like Julian Edelman, Antonio Brown, or Jarvis Landry. No matter the assignment, CHJ will be on his man’s hip like they are conjoined twins and frustrate opposing quarterbacks. Heck, he might pick that same quarterback off and smile as he takes it to the house. No matter the opposition or level of competition, Harris Jr. has been a consistent football player.
The three-time Pro Bowler was undrafted out of Kansas in 2011. Denver signed him and he has morphed into one of the premiere corners the league has to offer. His technique is sound, as he never bites on the eye candy receivers try to seduce him with in the early part of their routes. Harris Jr. shows great anticipation on routes, which has made him one of the most feared corners. In his career, he has posted 66 pass deflections, 14 interceptions, and three touchdowns. He reflected on his early years on guys that served as mentors to him.
“I would say Champ Bailey and Brian Dawkins. Those guys are for sure Hall of Famers,” said the Bronco corner.
Bailey and Dawkins were cerebral athletes in their prime, but were known for their anticipation, preparation, and knowledge of the game. These are two reasons why they were able to extend their prime. Harris Jr. has those same qualities, but the best part of his game is his consistency. If you have ever turned on a Broncos game, you might not hear his name often. This is a good thing because it means Harris Jr. is locking his man up. He talked about what makes him a steady contributor.
“Just being consistent every year I think comes with my preparation. I think I prepare hard for the season every year,” stated Harris Jr. “Where I separate myself from a lot of corners is that I try to play good every week.”
His dominance at his position is directly correlated to his team’s success on the field. He along with TJ Ward, Darian Stewart, Bradley Roby, and Aqib Talib has formed quite the secondary. The Broncos have finished in the top five in total defense since 2014. They won a Super Bowl last year as they frustrated Tom Brady and Cam Newton on their way to hoisting the Lombardi Trophy. Denver missed the playoffs this year, but the defense was still Fort Knox-esque. They finished fourth in total yards and points per game and finished first in passing yards allowed.
Part of the reason why the Broncos missed the playoffs can be attributed to the strength of the reinvigorated AFC West. The Sheriff, Peyton Manning, left town and the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs jumped at the opportunity to compete for the division crown. The San Diego Chargers only won five games, but they welcomed the challenge against their divisional foes. Harris Jr. loves the competition in the division and highlighted a few marquee matchups.
Harris Jr. said, “You got great quarterbacks in there [the AFC West] and great receivers. It challenges me every year to be able to guard Amari Cooper, Michael Crabtree, Jeremy Maclin, and Keenan Allen.”
On the field, Harris Jr. is a top five corner and is certainly in the best cornerback discussions. He finished as the top-graded corner with a 92.9 grade according to Pro Football Focus. He has been an All-Pro player since 2014 and was named a first-team selection this past season. Off the field, he has been the ultimate humanitarian. The Chris Harris Jr. Foundation was founded in 2013 and was made to help children in need. Harris spoke glowingly on his efforts with his foundation.
“Being able to find underdogs, like me, and give them a head start in life. That’s the main goal and trying to reach as many kids and touch as many kids as possible,” said CHJ.
The foundation has a football camp every year, works with Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, and the Salvation Army. Harris has also been outspoken against domestic violence. He continues to win on the field, but his greatest efforts come when he is off the field.
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