The buzz around former Panther basketball star Demetrius Harris has grown into a beehive of activity. Two weeks ago, he had a private workout session with a scout from the Kansas City Chiefs.
Last Saturday he held another workout with scouts of the Philadelphia Eagles and Oakland Raiders. The following Sunday and Monday he worked out for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens and the Dallas Cowboys respectively.
This Saturday he is holding his official Pro Day at the Milwaukee County Sports Complex. Numerous teams are scheduled be in attendance including the Ravens, the Miami Dolphins, Detroit Lions, Buffalo Bills, San Diego Chargers, Cleveland Browns, St. Louis Rams and Jacksonville Jaguars.
Matthew Pope, his agent, said Demetrius has seen his interest rise exponentially in the past few weeks.
“A lot of teams are starting to know about him,” Pope said. “And it’s good we’re getting his name out there.”
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, one of the knocks about Harris is his lack of strength. He has tremendous basketball strength, which translates well to boxing out defenders in pass patterns, but teams have knocked on his football strength, which translates more into beating jams off the line and blocking defenders. At of his workout for the Chiefs, Harris only benched 225 pounds twice, whereas most tight ends put up the bar at least 15 times.
However, after running a 4.5 forty yard dash, many teams are willing to take a chance on the athletic Harris. According to an anonymous AFC scout who spoke to PantherU, with so many teams expressing interest in Harris, interested teams might spend a late round draft pick on him. Previously Harris was projected to go undrafted due to not playing football throughout college.
Since word got out that he would be trying out for the NFL, Harris has been drawing numerous comparisons to Antonio Gates, who was undrafted out of Kent State and went on to being an eight time Pro Bowler for the San Diego Chargers after not playing any football in college. Because of Gates and his success after being unknown, NFL scouts now play attention to college basketball players who have little chance in the NBA, and look to see if their athletic ability can translate to the NFL. It has worked with players like Jimmy Graham emerging into a top tier tight end.
Of all the teams that are known to have worked Harris out, the teams with the best chance for him to contribute are the Raiders, Chargers, and Chiefs. The Raiders currently have no viable tight ends on their roster and need offensive weapons. The Chargers know how to maximize the abilities of their tight ends, and Antonio Gates is nearing the end of his career. The Chiefs have a close connection to Wisconsin in their GM, John Dorsey, and were the first to work Demetrius out after hearing of him.
Come next weekend, we could hear Harris’s name called, making him the first Panther drafted in the NFL since 1974, when Don Willingham was drafted in the 14 round by the Oakland Raiders.