2023 NFL Draft Scouting Report

Zach Harrison

February 19, 2022 1:00 AM EST

Zach Harrison Scouting Report picture

School: Ohio State

Height: 6'6"

Weight: 271

Eligibility: SR

Uniform: #9

Position: EDGE

Evaluated by: Sam Teets
Twitter: Sam_Teets33
December 17, 2022

Prospect Overview

2020: 14 games
2021: 7 games
2022: 11 games

Harrison was a five-star recruit from Olentangy Orange High School in Lewis Center, Ohio in the class of 2019. He was the No. 12 recruit according to 247Sports, No. 23 for Rivals, and No. 7 for On3.com. ESPN ranked him 10th in the nation with a 90 grade out of 100.

Zach Harrison Scouting Report image 1

As a high school senior, Harrison tallied seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss in seven games. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and was named a finalist for the All-American Bowl Man of the Year award. According to Ohio State, Harrison runs a 4.47 in the 40-yard dash, a 10.7 in the 100-meters, and a 21.5 in the 200-meters.

Harrison committed to the Buckeyes over offers from Alabama, Cincinnati, Clemson, Georgia, Iowa State, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford, Toledo, USC, and Wisconsin.

Harrison earned Second-Team All-Big Ten honors from the conference's coaches in 2020, Second-Team All-Big Ten honors from the media in 2021, and Third-Team All-Big Ten honors from the coaches in 2021. He was a team captain for Ohio State in 2021 but didn't resume the role this season. In 2022, Harrison was a Second-Team All-Big Ten selection for the coaches and a First-Team All-Big Ten selection for the media.

The former five-star recruit is a highly respected athlete and member of the Ohio State community. He was selected as one of eight Ohio State representatives on the Big Ten's Anti-Hate and Anti-Racism Coalition.

Harrison started two games as a freshman and one during the abbreviated COVID season before stepping into a full-time starting role in 2021. He finished second on the Buckeyes with 28 pressures in 2021 and leads the team with 31 pressures through 12 games this year. Harrison applied pressure on roughly 15.3% of his pass rush attempts in 2020, 9.4% in 2021, and 13.7% through Ohio State's first 12 games in 2022.

Zach Harrison Scouting Report image 2


Harrison is unofficially listed at 6'6", 272 lbs. He has a dense upper body with good upper body strength and room to add mass to his lower frame. Harrison possesses rare arm length (nearly 36 inches), which expands his tackle radius and ability to work offensive linemen. Missed tackles are rare for him.

The senior has the speed to make some plays as a backside run defender and is explosive when he times the snap correctly. Harrison's linear speed helps him make plays in pursuit, and he displays impressive closing burst.

Harrison has experience rushing from two and three-point stances. He shows instances of getting low and using his arm length to out-leverage linemen. He'll extend his massive arms to lock out linemen and walk them back to the quarterback. Harrison uses his length to poke the ball out for fumbles and gets his hands up for pass breakups at the line of scrimmage.

The Ohio native has the upper body and core strength to torque or spin linemen at times. As a pass rusher, Harrison's large strides allow him to get upfield quickly. He uses his footwork to set up his outside rush by pretending to threaten the inside track before bouncing back outside. The former five-star recruit shows flashes of converting speed to power. He primarily relies on bull rushes, chops, swipes, and rip moves to beat linemen. There are limited instances of him using a swim move.

Harrison had a terrific showing against Jaelyn Duncan (2022) when Ohio State clashed with Maryland and showed more promise attacking the tackles' inside shoulders against Iowa (2022) and Michigan (2022) than in past seasons.

As a five-star recruit at Olentangy Orange High School, Harrison ran a 4.62 40-yard dash (Jermaine Johnson II and Kayvon Thibodeaux ran 4.58 at the 2022 NFL Combine) and a 4.45 20-yard shuttle (the same as David Ojabo). Ohio State credits Harrison with accomplishing even crazier physical feats, including running the 100-meter dash in 10.7 second and the 200-meter dash in 21.5 seconds. The program also credits Harrison with running a 4.47 40-yard dash, but that's no way to verify that number. Frankly, it seems hyperbolic for a player with Harrison's profile.

Areas for Improvement

Harrison has a lean lower half, which causes a lot of problems for him as a run defender. He's frequently displaced against the run and struggles to anchor and set the edge. His issues holding up against the run suggest he shouldn't be allowed to reduce inside at the next level.

Harrison occasionally surrenders outside contain and needs to be more mindful of his gap responsibilities. The All-Big Ten selection has no answers for chip blocks or double teams. He is frequently late off the line of scrimmage. His hand placement is high, and there's room for his hands to be heavier and pack more pop. They need to be more violent and punishing.

While he showed improvement in 2022, he still doesn't regularly threaten inside rush lanes. There are too many instances of Harrison playing with a high pad level and surrendering leverage. His pass rush plan frequently carries him too far upfield. He's still learning to chain together pass rush moves and counters.

Harrison's pass rush moves need significant refining at the next level. Notably, his bull rush is very hit-or-miss because of his delayed reaction to the snap and inconsistent pad level. Taking snaps in wide alignments significantly increases Harrison's effectiveness as a pass rusher because it nullifies some of his stiffness and issues bending around the corner.

Zach Harrison Scouting Report image 3

Draft Stock

The 2022 NFL Draft is deep at several positions, including edge. There are at least eight or nine edge rushers ranked above Harrison in this class, including 4-3 defensive ends Myles Murphy and Tuli Tuipulotu and potential 4-3 defensive ends like Jared Verse and Tyree Wilson. While Felix Anudike-Uzomah and Lukas Van Ness currently rank below Harrison, it wouldn't be shocking if they jump him on draft day.

With the stacked edge class in mind, Harrison projects as a late second to early third round selection who should go somewhere between pick 55 and pick 75. NFL teams love physical traits, and Harrison's size plus long arms make him an attractive, toolsy selection once the premier talent is off the board.

With the stacked edge class in mind, Harrison projects as a late second to early third round selection who should go somewhere between pick 55 and pick 75. NFL teams love physical traits, and Harrison's size plus long arms make him an attractive, toolsy selection once the premier talent is off the board.

Excellent testing numbers in the pre-draft process could push Harrison into the early to mid second round. Teams tend to love big, strong, fast, hardworking prospects regardless of their lack of polish. However, Harrison's limited bend and concerns with leverage likely aren't fixable and place a ceiling on his draft stock.

Zach Harrison Scouting Report image 4

Player Comparison

The most recent top 100 selection that reminds me of Harrison is A.J. Epenesa. The Buffalo Bills drafted Epenesa out of Iowa with the 54th overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft behind other edge rushers that haven't reached their potential yet such as K'Lavon Chaisson (20th), Yetur Gross-Matos (38th), and Darrell Taylor (48th).

Epenesa signed with the Iowa Hawkeyes as a five-star recruit in the class of 2017. He spent three years at the program, amassing 30.5 tackles for loss and 22 sacks over his final two seasons. He recorded pressure rates of 18.85% and 12.91% during those peak years. However, Epenesa's college success hasn't translated to the NFL. As of Week 15, he only has eight sacks and three starts to his name after nearly three years in Buffalo.

Epenesa checked in at the NFL Combine at 6'5", 275 lbs. with 34 1/2" arms and 10 1/8" hands. Harrison should possess similar size since he's listed at 6'6", 272 lbs. on Ohio State's team website. The Buckeye is also expected to share Epenesa's positive physical traits. Rumors claim he has hands larger than ten inches and arms over 35 inches.

Besides their impressive physical tools, Harrison and Epenesa share several traits. They both know how to use leverage against tackles, especially with their long arms. However, they don't possess high-end agility or change of direction skills. The two edge rushers don't display great bend off the edge and lack the raw power to consistently shed blocks against the run quickly.

Finding a prospect comparison is never an exact science. They're usually stretching things a little, and that applies to this comparison. Harrison has much better length than Epenesa, even though both are physically gifted in this area. The Ohio State product should run significantly faster than his Iowa counterpart's 5.04 40-time and bench more than 17 reps of 225 lbs. However, Harrison lacks Epenesa's elite college production.

Games Evaluated

  • Minnesota (2021)
  • Michigan (2021)
  • Penn State (2021)
  • Notre Dame (2022)
  • Iowa (2022)
  • Northwestern (2022)
  • Maryland (2022)
  • Michigan (2022)

Scouting Video Courtesy of Prince Highlights

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