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Christian Harris can make a ton of money by staying one more year at Alabama

Alabama vs Georgia Alabama linebacker Christian Harris (8) Photo by Kent Gidley
Photo by Kent Gidley of Alabama Athletics

Christian Harris faces a big decision.

All draft-eligible juniors have until Monday to decide whether they will turn pro.

RELATED: Alabama’s Jordan Battle and Byron Young confirm they are back for 2022 season

Harris, a Louisiana native, is a junior linebacker.

He started the 2021 preseason in the Butkus Award conversation and first-round pick conversation. After a good season in 2020, Harris was inconsistent in 15 games as a junior.

He finished the year strong with dominant outings against Auburn, Georgia (SEC Championship), Cincinnati, and Georgia again (CFP National Championship). Harris played his best football in Alabama’s last four games.

He totaled 79 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks, four quarterback pressures, three pass breakups, and two forced fumbles.

Harris is a Day 3 (fourth-round) pick at best if he turns pro.

However, he can return to the Crimson Tide for his senior year and make a ton of money. Harris has an opportunity to take his last four games of 2021 and play a season with that intensity. He needs to improve his grade from Pro Football Focus. The website ranked him at No. 530 for linebackers. Harris earned a defensive grade of 59.7, a run defense grade of 65.4, a pass-rush grade of 64, and a coverage grade of 47.2.

If he returns to Alabama, he can improve these numbers and be a top-10 selection for 2023.

RELATED: NFL Draft decisions on Alabama’s John Metchie and Jordan Battle

Harris can pocket several NIL deals, and insurance opportunities will hold him for one final season with the Tide. Alabama has Henry To’oto’o, DJ Dale, DeMarcco Hellams, Jordan Battle, and Byron Young passing on the NFL Draft to return to school. Will Anderson and Dallas Turner will be back as fierce edge rushers, and the Crimson Tide will have a lethal defensive secondary.

Harris has another chance to play with To’oto’o and a defense that has the makings of a top-five group in college football.

Harris can win individual awards and write his check if he returns to play with these guys.

He wants to be a top-10 draft pick. According to Spotrac, the No. 1 overall pick for April’s venue will get $41.5 million.

The signing bonus is $27.3 million. As for the No. 10 pick, that player receives a contract worth $22.6 million. The signing bonus is $13.6 million. The money shrinks between the No. 1 and No. 10 overall picks. If Harris chooses fourth-round money, he pockets a little over $4 million and a signing bonus of $800,000. Some may be fine with that, but Harris has first-round potential. 

A player taken late in the first round could go from $15.3 million (No. 20 overall) to $12.4 million (No. 32 overall) in April.

RELATED: Alabama safety DeMarcco Hellams is returning to school for 2022 season

In the 2021 draft, a late second-rounder saw either $6.7 million (No. 50 overall) or $5.5 million (No. 64 overall). The signing bonus from the late second round dropped from $2.3 million to $1.4 million. A late third-round pick from the 2021 draft saw either $4.8 million (No. 90 overall) or $4.7 million (No. 105 overall).

The signing bonus dropped from $901,802 to $840,620.

Harris needs to come back and have a dominant season.

If he returns to an experienced defense, Harris will make all his dreams a reality.

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Stephen M. Smith is the managing editor and senior writer for Touchdown Alabama Magazine.  You can “like” him on Facebook or “follow” him on Twitter, via @CoachingMSmith.

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