The Miami Dolphins held their annual rookie minicamp over the weekend, using the three days as a chance to get the newly drafted prospects and the signed undrafted free agents into the team facilities. The team followed the same basic agenda as last year’s rookie minicamp, using the time to teach the rookies about life in the NFL, Miami, and the Dolphins rather than putting them on the field for practices. The team also took the opportunity to allow the seven draft picks to appear in front of the media for the first time.
First-round pick, defensive end Charles Harris from Missouri, spent part of his press conference talking about a player he was looking forward to meeting - Dolphins Pro Bowl defensive end Cameron Wake. “I haven’t (talked to Wake),” Harris replied when asked about the veteran defensive end. “He texted me though. That’s the biggest thing I got. I think I’m supposed to speak to him later on today, so that’s pretty exciting just to finally meet the legend in person.”
Harris then continued to talk about Wake, and how he plans to mirror the veteran and try to learn from him as much as he can. “I’ll be that little brother,” Harris explained. “You can’t get away from me – the little brother that mom’s tell you ‘He has to go with you up the street.’ That’s what I’m going to be. In every way, shape or form, I’m going to make sure I take after him. That’s a guy everyone around here pumps up and hypes up and I want to be the best so I’m going to learn from the best.”
He added, “I’m glad the cameras and everything is over with the whole draft and stuff is over with. So now, it’s all about work. Behind these doors, we’re all going to work and that’s what it’s all about.”
After a red-shirt season, in three seasons with Missouri, Harris recorded 136 tackles, with 34.5 of them for a loss, along with 18 sacks, five passes defensed, one forced fumble, and five fumble recoveries. He was selected second-team All-SEC in both 2015 and 2016.
Harris is not going to rest on those college laurels, however. Head coach Adam Gase met with the media ahead of Harris’ press conference, saying that they “feel like there are some areas where we can help [Harris] get better.” Asked where he needs to get better, Harris responded, “Whatever coach wants me to get better at – whether it’s stopping the run, whether that is parts of my pass rush, technique, stance, all shapes or forms. Whatever they want me to improve at, that’s what I’m going to do – on the field, off the field, things like film study. Things like that, that you can’t improve in if you don’t really know about. All coordination, in terms of training, strength and conditioning. All phases of the game, (I want to) make sure I get better.”
He continued, after being asked about the pressure to live up to the “expectations” of being a first-round pick, “I have no expectations for me. I feel like everything is repeating itself. So coming out of high school, I was a zero star. I know how it feels to be at the bottom. I have the same mindset now. I feel like I’m not in the first round. I don’t feel like a first-rounder, second-rounder or anything like that. I feel like another player, another rookie that just came in – we just had a rookie meeting just a few hours ago – and working my way from the bottom. We’re on the same level across the board in terms of our knowledge of the game and our experience on a professional level. Coming into this level, it’s a whole other game. I can’t come in with that mindset, ‘I’m a first rounder. I’m this. I’m that.’ Like I said, I’m willing to learn, willing to adjust and just get better.”
The Dolphins coaches have mentioned the possibility of adding Harris to a pass-rush defensive line package that could include Wake and Andre Branch, with Harris likely inside of Wake. Asked about how comfortable he would be playing in that kind of role, Harris continued his seeming willingness to do whatever he has to do to help the Dolphins. “Whatever gets me to that quarterback,” Harris explained. “Whatever it takes for us to get off that field and for us to win a game. At the end of the day, whether I have to play three-technique, two-technique, five, nine … It doesn’t matter what it is. I’m going to do what I have to do. Whatever coach asks me, I’m going to do, for sure.”
Harris was assigned number 90 for his jersey, after wearing 91 in college, a number that is taken by the legend Harris was looking forward to meeting. Asked about the number and if he has worn it before, Harris replied, “I feel great. I feel great. I haven’t [worn it before]. Mr. Wake got 91, so I’m going to take one step down. But I guess it’s alright, I’m the little brother. Number 90, number 91.”
The Dolphins have not signed Harris to his rookie contract yet, one of two draft picks still remaining to sign with the team. The NFL’s rookie wage scale should see Harris sign a contract with an overall value around $10.8 million over four years, or around $2.7 million per season, with the Dolphins holding an option for a fifth-year - similar to the option the team exercised last week on right tackle, and 2014 first-round pick, Ja’Wuan James.