Chris Harris Jr. had another phenomenal year in 2017 for the Denver Broncos and proved once again he is one of the league’s elite players at cornerback.
From undrafted to one of the league’s premier NFL corners, the gridiron journey of Chris Harris Jr. has been phenomenal to watch. In his first season with the squad, he earned PFWA All-Rookie Team honors, as well as the league’s Breakout Player of the League accolades. After a successful first year, Harris Jr. never looked back and has become a three-time All-Pro, Pro Bowler and Super Bowl Champion.
"I think people know my heart. My wife and I are really doing it for the kids."@ChrisHarrisJr doesn't do it for the recognition, he does it for the kids. That's why we're proud that he's our #WPMOY.#BeAChampion | #WPMOYChallenge + Harris— Broncos Off Field (@BroncosOffField) December 26, 2017
I think it’s safe to say that not only is Harris Jr. one of the best slot corners in the NFL, but one of the best players the Denver Broncos have ever had in the history of their franchise. A leader on the field and a leader in the community, Harris Jr. is the type of player every team wish they had on their roster. Thankfully, he is with the Broncos and hopefully, he remains with the team until he decides to hang up the cleats.
In 2017, Harris had 40 tackles, 7 passes defended, two interceptions and a forced fumble. It might have been a small drop in performance number wise, but everyone who watches the Broncos play knows his value on the field and recognizes the fact that many opposing quarterbacks don’t even bother throwing in his direction.
Chris Harris Jr. 2017 Grade from Pro Football Focus
For several seasons, Harris Jr. was ranked as one of the best corners in the entire league. Over the course of the past three seasons, no corner has allowed fewer yards per coverage snap than he has. It wasn’t a down year for him by any means, but his PFF grade was much lower than it has been in recent memory.
The highest graded players on the Denver Broncos roster this season pic.twitter.com/qD1YG0QRQ8— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) January 8, 2018
According to Pro Football Focus, Harris Jr. received an overall grade of 83.5 and the league’s twenty-ninth ranked cornerback overall. This ranks him in the ‘above average’ category, but we know that he is better than above average — he is an elite player. On the season Harris Jr. played 869 snaps, which was roughly 88 percent of the defenses total plays. Keep in mind this number is lower than expected, considering he barely played in the season finale against the Chiefs.
Chris Harris Jr. Contract Outlook
Some players are underpaid, some players are overpaid. It’s safe to say that the Broncos are getting a phenomenal return on their investment with the former undrafted Jayhawk. He is under contract through the 2019 season at a very affordable rate and is scheduled to earn just shy of $20 million total the next two seasons. Overall, he is the 18th highest paid cornerback in the league and unquestionably outperforming most everyone else ahead of him. It’s an absolute bargain to have such a quality player at an affordable rate.
Chris Harris Jr. 2018 Status
Harris Jr. is a virtual lock to make the team in 2018 and should merit an extension sooner than later to ensure that he remains with the team the rest of his career. The Broncos have a storied tradition of finding undrafted gems who end up becoming fantastic players in the league and he is certainly one of them. It’s very rare to see a player endure their whole NFL career with one team, but I am hopeful that can become reality in respect to Harris Jr. — who should end up in the Ring of Fame someday and if the Hall of Fame voters can get it right, in the heralded halls of Canton as well.