The 2022 NFL season is the first year that Nick Harris will be the starting center for the Cleveland Browns.
After taking him in the fifth round of the 2020 NFL Draft, Harris has only played two games as a starter.
However, with the Browns releasing J. C. Tretter earlier this year, Harris now gets his time to shine.
The former University of Washington center is the guy will be key to the Browns’ offensive line this season.
But what are the reasons for him being a key to the offensive line in 2022?
Harris’s Job As Center Is The Toughest Job On The O-Line
While there are four other guys around the young center, his job is the toughest.
His job goes beyond protecting his quarterback or creating running lanes for Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.
He will be tasked with helping identify defensive fronts and making any adjustments to the blocking scheme.
Playing this position requires someone that’s smart, and Harris fits that mold.
Nick Harris of Washington and JSerra is picked by Browns in fifth round. Quick, smart center.
— Mark Whicker (@MWhicker03) April 25, 2020
Since coming out of the NFL Draft, he was a smart center.
Now leads the Browns’ offense, with a probable rotation of quarterbacks behind him until Deshaun Watson’s suspension is over.
This is a lot of pressure for the young talent coming into 2022.
However, his history shows he can handle this task.
PFF Saw Harris As A Top 20 Center When He Was In College
The guide that many people follow with NFL players is PFF.
When Harris was playing in college, the PFF ranking put him in the top 20 of all college centers for 2017 and 2018.
He would rank as the number one center in the Pac-12 in 2018 by their standards as well.
Top graded centers in the Pac-12 in 2018 according to PFF (min 300 snaps)
1. Nick Harris 77.6 (UW)
2. Jake Hanson 71.3 (UO)
3. Frederick Mauigoa 67.7 (WSU)
4. Cohl Cabral 67.4 (ASU)
5. Orlando Umana 65.8 (Utah)
— Mike Singer (@MikeTSinger) January 15, 2019
With his history of being that top rated guy before he came into the NFL, it shouldn’t be an issue for him to adjust as a starting center.
However, some Browns fans might worry that he isn’t ready to take over.
#Browns needed a veteran C to give Nick Harris competition in camp
Ranked 16th of 40 last season per PFF (20% snap min)
Will be interesting to see if his deal has guarantees that keep him on the 2022 roster or does it allow them to draft Dohnovan West https://t.co/nPydfxmrFS
— Jack Duffin (@JackDuffin) March 29, 2022
However, they don’t state how Harris only got one start as a center, but filled in at other offensive line positions during 2021.
His lone game as the starting center in 2021 game against the Green Bay Packers.
Facing Kenny Clark, he would show his youth and lack of NFL experience didn’t matter.
With it being 53 from #Browns kickoff, we look at C Nick Harris
In in his only start in 2021 he graded at a 70 per PFF and allowed 0 sacks against pro bowl NT Kenny Clark
His lateral quickness will elevate this run game to next level
— Mac🦬 (@tha_buffalo) July 20, 2022
So the Browns have a skilled player in him to take over as the center in Cleveland.
Harris Has To Show More Good Plays To Impress Browns Fans
While the number of stand out plays by the center were few, this year gives him a chance to increase that number.
As the full-time starting center, this means Browns fans get to see him handing every snap.
It also means he’ll have no excuses for those that already feel uneasy with him handling the ball.
While this is his third season in the NFL, it’s a make or break moment for him as a center and a starting lineman.
With him controlling the front line and how they should play, he’ll need to show his football I.Q. to help protect his quarterback this season.