Florida safety Marcell Harris decided to return for his redshirt senior season, hoping to boost his draft stock in 2017.
Instead, a torn right Achilles tendon in the summer sidelined him for the entire fall and left him with even more to prove to NFL scouts and decision-makers.
Nonetheless, Harris will get his chance at the next level as the San Francisco 49ers selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft on Saturday, with the 184th overall pick.
Keep building this defense!
— San Francisco 49ers (@49ers) April 28, 2018
Harris led Florida with 73 tackles in 2016, along with 4 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions and a forced fumble.
Harris could have petitioned the NCAA for an extra year of eligibility because of his lost 2017 season, but he felt his best course was to declare for the draft and do what he can to show the scouts he’s still the same defensive playmaker.
He did not take part in workouts at the NFL combine or at Florida’s pro day last month, but he insisted then that he was feeling good and that he was confident he was the same player who had that breakout season in 2016.
“He ain’t left,” Harris said of that version of himself. “I mean, they know. Game film speaks for itself.”
Harris is the fifth Florida player drafted this week, following defensive tackle Taven Bryan (first round, Jacksonville Jaguars), defensive back Duke Dawson (second round, New England Patriots), wide receiver Antonio Callaway (fourth round, Cleveland Browns) and punter Johnny Townsend (fifth round, Oakland Raiders).
With Harris’ selection, the Gators have had seven defensive backs drafted since 2016 and 13 since 2010.
Harris joins cornerback Joe Haden (first round, 2010), safety Major Wright (third round, 2010), safety Ahmad Black (fifth round, 2011), safety Matt Elam (first round, 2013), safety Josh Evans (sixth round, 2013), cornerback Jaylen Watkins (fourth round, 2014), cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (first round, 2016), safety Keanu Neal (first round, 2016), safety Marcus Maye (second round, 2017), cornerback Quincy Wilson (second round, 2017), cornerback Jalen “Teez” Tabor (second round, 2017) and Dawson (second round, 2018).