Fann: Shelby Harris has been a sensational addition for Seahawks defense
When you first heard that Russell Wilson had been traded, your initial thought was likely to wonder how many first-round picks the Seahawks received from the Broncos.
Once you read through the pair of first-round picks, the two second-rounders and the 2022 fifth-rounder, you would have gotten to the trio of players Denver was sending to Seattle: quarterback Drew Lock, tight end Noah Fant and defensive lineman Shelby Harris.
Lock, as a young quarterback who could compete for the 2022 starting job against Geno Smith, garnered the most attention. Fant was up next as a former first-round pick who is still just 24 years old.
Harris was sort of an afterthought. And that’s no disrespect to what Harris had accomplished during his first seven NFL seasons. He’d been a steady interior defensive lineman for years who excelled against the run and tallied 22.5 career sacks as a pass rusher for good measure.
But with most people (everyone?) expecting Seattle to enter a potential multi-year rebuild, a 31-year-old defensive tackle hardly figured to be a building block for the future.
Now with the Seahawks at 5-3 and in first place of the NFC West as one of the league’s top surprise contenders, there’s no debating that Harris has been the most impactful player of the three acquired in the blockbuster trade with Denver.
Harris has registered 20 tackles, three tackles for loss, two passes defended, three quarterback hits, one sack and 15 total pressures over seven games this season. His marquee play came during the fourth quarter of last Sunday’s win over the Giants. New York was facing third-and-9 with 8:30 left to play, trailing 20-13.
Daniel Jones, the quarterback with the third-most rushing yards this season, escaped to his right to try and scramble for a first down. Harris sprinted to the sideline and tripped Jones up short of the line to gain. Had Harris missed, Jones assuredly would have gotten the first down and likely much more. It was a maximum-effort winning play that embodied what Harris has meant to Seattle’s defense. He has been a key cog in the drastic turnaround for a group that went from the bottom of the league to the best in the NFL over the last three weeks.
BIG MAN STOP! Shelby Harris keeps the Giants from moving down the field, and the 12's love it.
— NFL (@NFL) October 30, 2022
Pro Football Focus has given Harris a 69.7 grade over 254 snaps this season, good for fifth-best on Seattle’s defense.
Beyond his production defensively, Harris has been a welcomed veteran addition to the locker room who hasn’t masked his emotions or minced words since arriving in the Pacific Northwest.
You’ll recall his spirited interview after the Seahawks beat the Broncos in Week 1 at Lumen Field in a game that featured two goal-line stops by Harris and the defense.
“That’s what happens when you trade one of your D-lineman to the other team,” Harris told NFL Network’s James Palmer after beating his former team. “We sit here and make plays, all of us.”
He ended the on-field conversation with a quick jab at the man he was traded for.
“All I have to say is ‘Let’s ride,’” Harris quipped, referring of course to Wilson’s infamous tagline.
The expectations in Seattle have shifted from rebuild to win now given the 5-3 start coupled with the mediocrity surrounding them throughout the NFC. Harris has yet to play in the postseason, and he made that clear to FOX13 following the Week 8 win over the Giants.
“This is the best record I’ve ever had in my career,” Harris said. “I’ll be damned if I let this go to waste.”
Staying true to form, Harris signed off with a message to the critics who wrote Seattle off prior to the start of the season.
“Write us off if you want to, we’re gonna come smack you in the face,” he told FOX 13 emphatically.
For all of the feel-good stories inside Seattle’s locker room right now – Geno Smith, the success of the rookie class and Pete Carroll leading the way for Coach of the Year chief among them – Harris’ contributions are certainly on the list.
He’s been an invaluable member of the team’s early-season success, and the Seahawks will need his continued productivity in order to remain in the playoff picture. Selfishly, I hope the colorful quotes keep coming as well.