The Miami Dolphins addressed one of their many defensive needs Thursday night by selecting Missouri end Charles Harris with the 22nd pick in the NFL draft.
The 6-foot-3, 253-pound Harris is considered better as a pass rusher than against the run. He had seven sacks as a sophomore in 2015 and nine last year.
Harris joins a defense that allowed a franchise-record 6,122 yards last season even though Miami made the playoffs for the first time since 2008. He'll likely be groomed as an eventual replacement for five-time Pro Bowl end Cameron Wake, who is 35.
“We envision him being in the top four, that’s why we drafted him where we did,” said Dolphins General Manager Chris Grier. “He has traits of quickness, speed and explosiveness off the edge, the ability to rush and he also rushes inside.”
The Dolphins ranked 30th in run defense last season, and tied for 19th in sacks. Harris is projected to join the Dolphins' rotation at end immediately under new defensive coordinator Matt Burke.
Miami chose Harris over Alabama linebacker Reuben Foster, who was among the highly regarded defensive players still on the board. Harris wasn’t among any of the mock draft, numerous prognosticators put out and he didn’t bother him.
“I don’t care about any of the rankings, the mock drafts are cool and all, but I just want to ball,” said an elated Harris.
Also available were Western Kentucky guard Forrest Lamp and Miami Hurricanes tight end David Njoku. Both were believed to be on the Dolphins' radar, but they were widely expected to devote their top pick to defense.
Miami remains in the market for help at linebacker, cornerback and safety.
Harris had 18 career sacks and 34.5 tackles for a loss at Missouri, where he was a three-year starter.
The reaction to the Dolphins selection of Harris was subdued at their official Draft Party, which the team says drew 10,000 fans.
It wasn't anything against Harris, but most of the fans in attendance wanted Miami to draft Alabama Linebacker Reuben Foster. He was a highly-regarded prospect who slipped because of off-the-field issues.
When Foster was still available for the Dolphins with the 22nd overall pick, fans at the party prepared to celebrate.
Instead, a few booed and shouted their displeasure when Harris' name was called. Most were silent and surprised by the pick.
"I really wanted Foster badly, maybe they know something I don't know," said one Fins fan.
"You kind of felt the buzz leave a little," said another Dolphins fan. "But the pick is still good, it's going to help our defense out."
The Draft continues tomorrow with rounds two and three unfolding, and continuing Saturday with rounds four through seven. The Dolphins open up their rookie mini-camp Tuesday at Nova Southeastern University.