Coming into Browns training camp, no one on the outside may have had major expectations for fifth-round pick Nick Harris.
Now those expectations may have taken a major step forward.
With the news on Friday that center JC Tretter would be sidelined for the immediate future after undergoing a procedure on his knee, Tretter will be out for the next few weeks but should be ready for the season opener against Baltimore according to reports.
That means that Harris will be getting the reps with the first-team offense as the starting center, something no one was expecting once the team hit the field for their first day of practice with the first 11-on-11 drills with pads coming this Monday.
Harris was likely to spend the season learning behind Tretter and that could be the end game once Tretter makes his return but these next few weeks could be the major audition needed by general manager Andrew Berry and head coach Kevin Stefanski.
The rookie fits the mold of what an offensive lineman should be in Stefanski’s offense with the athleticism and mobility needed to pull in the zone run scheme and his 40 games of experience at both guard and center at the University of Washington. Scouting reports have suggested he’s best suited to play center in the NFL but if needed, I’m sure the Browns and Harris himself will get ready to play at guard.
Looking towards 2021, if the Browns feel like Harris is the future of the center and want to move on from Tretter, they have a potential out in his contract because Tretter’s 2021 salary is set to become fully guaranteed in March of next year. Cleveland could move on from him but would face a dead cap hit of $6.75 million.
It’s unlikely barring a serious injury they would move on because Tretter is one of the underrated lineman in football and has been since the Browns signed him back in 2017.
However, when they did draft Harris, you’d have to think the succession plan was being set in motion. Now it could be ramped up if Harris impresses enough in the next coming weeks with how he handles this new situation in Berea.