NFL.com analyst and former NFL scout Daniel Jeremiah takes a "first look" at some of college football's top players for 2023. This is the third in a series of scouting reports that will run in July.
There is a ton of excitement about Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. as he enters his junior season in 2023, and rightfully so.
The son of Pro Football Hall of Fame WR Marvin Harrison became a starter for the Buckeyes last year, although the signs of a potential breakout were put on display in the Rose Bowl the season prior, when he caught three touchdown passes in a 48-45 comeback win over Utah. Harrison picked up right where he left off, breaking the 100 yards mark in seven games and scoring 14 touchdowns (fourth most in the FBS) in 2022.
He'll be working with a new quarterback this season after the departure of C.J. Stroud, the second overall pick of this year's draft. I'm interested to see how the offense adjusts to the change at QB, but his work with Stroud in 2022 gave us a good glimpse into the star wideout's potential.
Now that I've had a chance to study Harrison's game tape from last season, here is my initial scouting report.
Height, weight: 6-foot-4, 205 pounds (school measurements).
2022 statistics (13 games played): 77 catches for 1,263 yards (16.4 average), 14 TDs.
Game tape watched: Every target from the 2022 season.
What I liked: Harrison has everything you look for in a No. 1 wide receiver. He has a big frame, outstanding speed and natural hands. He has a unique blend of power and grace. He can win right off the line in his release whether he's using pure speed or simply swatting away cornerbacks with his hands. He changes tempo in his routes down the field and can access another gear when the ball is in the air.
He tracks the ball easily over his shoulder on deep balls and is adept at adjusting to throws on his back shoulder. After the catch, he has the speed to pull away or he can use his lower body strength to break tackles. His competitive nature showed up through the entire season.
Where he needs to improve: There isn't much to critique after studying the tape. He did have some issues with low throws, but that's always going to be a challenge for bigger wideouts. The only other area where he might not grade out at an elite level is elusiveness after the catch. He's not going to make a lot of tacklers miss in space, but it doesn't really matter. He can use his speed to run away from them or his strength to run through them.
Biggest takeaway: Harrison has the instincts of a basketball player when the ball is in the air. He understands how to utilize his frame and strength to wall off defenders. He attacks the ball away from his body, which makes it so difficult to stop him. Even if the cornerback stays in phase (position) throughout the entire route, Harrison can still win at the catch point. You can see the defenders' frustration at the end of some of these incredible catches. There's simply nothing they can do.
He reminds me of: I'd love to use his father as the comparison, but their games are actually quite different. Harrison Jr. isn't quite as quick, but he's bigger and stronger. The best comparison is seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green. They both have that blend of size, fluidity and hands. Also, there are also some elements to his play that remind me of Andre Johnson, who was such a physical force when the ball was in the air during his playing career.
I can't wait to watch him play: at Michigan on Nov. 25. This is an easy one. The Buckeyes have dropped two straight against their bitter rivals, so Harrison has yet to be part of an Ohio State win over the Wolverines. I guarantee he doesn't want to see that streak extend to three. On paper, this might be the most talented Michigan team in decades. I'm excited to see Harrison take on that challenge.