If Damon Harrison isn’t named an All-Pro than the whole idea behind the end of the year accolades needs to be examined. Somehow overlooked, the New York Giants defensive tackle has again been a dominant player at the position and yet still isn’t generating any level of buzz, let alone respect.
It is bad enough that Harrison wasn’t named to the Pro Bowl, the same story as last year even though he has statistically ranked among not just the best interior linemen in the NFL over the past two years, but among the best defensive players in the entire league. While the Pro Bowl is tainted by the popularity component of the selection process, the All-Pro list is freed from that influence.
As such, Harrison must again be named All-Pro even if he inexcusably won’t be a part of the Pro Bowl.
On a bad Giants team and as a part of a depleted defense hit hard by injuries and the occasional team suspension, Harrison still had 76 tackles and 1.5 sacks plus a career-high three passes defended as well as his first career interception. Big numbers from an interior defensive lineman. Numbers that truthfully can’t be overlooked.
Yet somehow they were for the Pro Bowl.
Numbers that rival if not exceed Fletcher Cox and Aaron Donald, the NFC’s two named starting interior defensive linemen in the Pro Bowl. Combine Cox’s and Donald’s tackle numbers and they don’t equal Harrison’s numbers for the year.
But wait, there’s more.
According to Pro Football Focus, Harrison led the NFL for a third-straight year with 39 run stops. Ryan A. Smith from the site notes that Harrison is the highest graded defender — not defensive lineman, but defender — in the entire league with a 94.9 run defense grade against the run.
He did so against constant double-teams. Those numbers could have been higher but Harrison also was rarely on the field during third downs.
Because of the Giants scheme, Harrison often didn’t get many third-down snaps, being on the field for “just” 618 snaps this year. Compare that to Jason Pierre-Paul, the Giants defensive end who saw a total of 1,018 snaps this year and the correlation is clear.
With a similar snap count, it is a foregone conclusion that Harrison’s numbers could have and should have been higher. Maybe he could have tripled the combined tackle total of Cox and Arnold.
Harrison was selected first-team All-Pro by the Pro Football Journal. He was the only Giants player selected to the list.