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Browns Breakdowns: What Nick Harris brings to the table at center

In five weeks, the new assemblage of Browns players and coaches are expected to return to Berea for their first team reps and on-field practices of 2020.

We've all been waiting for the start of training camp, which will also be the first time rookies hit the field and jostle for top spots on the depth chart. Some rookies will fight for a starting role in Week 1, while others could be stashed in backup roles and carry starting prospects for the future. We'll just be happy that football is back in Cleveland.

Over the next few weeks, we're breaking down each rookie from the Browns 2020 draft class — with the help of The Athletic's Dane Brugler — and diving into how they might fit into next season's plans.

Next up: Nick Harris

The Bio

Name: Nick Harris

Age: 21

Height: 6-foot-1

Weight: 302

College: Washington

Hometown: Inglewood, California

Draft selection: 5th round (160th overall)

The Browns have selected Nick Harris in the 2020 NFL Draft.

How does he play?: Harris wasn't supposed to be a starter in his first year at Washington, but his relentlessness couldn't be overlooked. By the midpoint of his true freshman season, Harris was a starting right guard even though he was never intended to play the position. Eventually, he moved to his natural position at center and proved to be one of the best and most consistent players in the Pac-12. Though he was a bit undersized for the position — even at the collegiate level — Harris used a mixture of athleticism, quickness and smarts to play at a high level and allow just two sacks over his final two seasons.

Brugler's Breakdown: Brugler didn't expect Harris to be available in the fifth round, and he's fairly confident the Browns may not have anticipated it, either.

Regardless, Brugler views the selection as not only a steal from that standpoint, but also from the perspective of how well Harris' skill set matches what the Browns want to accomplish on offense under Kevin Stefanski.

An examination of some of Harris' best moments at Washington further reveals why the Browns see him as a center first within their scheme.

"His fit in Cleveland is just perfect," Brugler said. "Studying the tape, you see some of his best work comes in motion making him just a perfect fit for that outside zone blocking scheme. That initial quickness, that mobility is a big part of the center position and the entire offensive line in the outside wide zone scheme, and that's something Harris does outstandingly."

Play after play reveals how Harris uses his size, which likely played into why he fell into the fifth round, as an advantage. He takes "low man wins" to another level and constantly uses his explosive first step and leverage to attack his man in the run game and neutralize him in the pass game.

Perhaps the quality Brugler likes most is the trait that's hardest to quantify but clearest to see with the naked eye.

"He never misses out on an opportunity to bury," Brugler said. "That's what makes it so easy to love him when you watch him play. You can see the intelligence and you can see the athleticism, but it's that competitive toughness, that nasty mentality he brings to the field."

How will he fit?: The Browns have their center in place for years to come with veteran JC Tretter, who recently signed a contract extension, but Harris provides a strong backup option at a position that can be unforgiving in the trenches. The Browns have learned the hard way on multiple occasions in recent years just how tough it can be to overcome the loss of a starting center if there's not a worthy replacement on the bench. And as Harris showed at Washington, when he unexpectedly emerged as a starter at right guard during the first part of his career, he can't be completely counted out as an option for depth at the other interior spots.