New York, NY (UHND.com) – When the Denver Broncos selected offensive tackle Ryan Harris with the 70th overall pick in the NFL Draft, it gave Notre Dame three first picks for the first time in 10 years. In 1997, the Irish had four first day picks in Reynaldo Wynn, Marc Edwards, Bert Berry and Kinnon Tatum.
Ten years later, Harris joined Brady Quinn and Victor Abiamiri to give the Irish three picks within the first three rounds when Denver used their third round pick to select the four year starting left tackle.
Harris was projected as a late second to third round pick by most draft analysis despite being a four year starter for the Irish mainly because of a lack of size and mean streak needed to play tackle in the NFL, but after 45 collegiate starts, you will be hard pressed to find a more experienced offensive lineman in this year’s draft.
Landing in Denver, where he will be coached by Mike Shanahan, is one of the best scenarios the Minnesota native could have hoped for. In Denver, Harris will have time to develop and get accustomed to the NFL without being expected to start early on in his career. Shanahan’s offense is also one of the most offensive linemen friendly systems in the entire NFL.
Mike Shanahan said after drafting Harris that the Broncos think Harris can play either guard to tackle and hopes he will add depth to their offensive line after they traded George Foster to the Lions in the Dre Bly trade.
At first Harris will be looked at to provide depth and learn the Broncos blocking system. He’ll have to improve his strength and get more aggressive with his blocking because the Broncos are a team that love to run the ball and control the line of scrimmage. Notre Dame was never considered a running team during his days with the Irish so that is something he will have to adjust to once he reports to training camp with Denver.
Harris is the highest drafted offensive lineman out of Notre Dame since Jeff Faine went in the first round to the Cleveland Browns in the 2003 draft. He is also the first player drafted out of Notre Dame by the Broncos since they selected Jarious Jackson in the 7th round of the 2000 drat.