When you're a Patriots fan, there are certain things you come to expect every Draft Day. One, you expect Bill Bellichick to trade back in the draft to acquire more picks. Two, you expect him to draft a couple of defensive backs. And three, you expect him to take a player that you've probably never even heard of that leaves everyone scratching their heads. Well 2013 was no exception, and Patriots fans didn't have to wait too long for the pick that left us busting out the age-old adage "In Bill We Trust."
Duron Harmon, safety, Rutgers (91st overall pick)
Strengths: Smart, tough safety whose physical style of play sees him spending a lot of time near the line of scrimmage in run support and press coverage. Possesses good football intelligence and made a lot of calls from the backfield while at Rutgers. Not afraid to tackle and plays aggressive. Size allows him to jostle and keep up with larger receivers and tight ends.
Weaknesses: Doesn't excel at any one aspect of his game, and would be unlikely to make any real impact as a rookie. Tends to move a little high on his backpedal, which leads to him getting caught on quick breakoff routes. Likes to gamble on his playmaking, which means he's something of a feast or famine safety. Not a good deep free safety and is fairly limited to playing closer to the line. 4.5 40 time hints at limited speed, which makes him a liability in deep coverage.
Roster Lock? If Harmon doesn't make the 2013 roster, the media is going to be all over it. Why did Bill Belichick waste a draft pick on a guy that he probably could have signed as a UDA only to cut him before the season starts? Why does Belichick always draft guys before we say he's supposed to? The fact of the matter is that Belichick saw something in Harmon that made him worth the 91st overall pick, and so he'll likely be around after final cuts are made. Safety will be another fun training camp battle to watch, as Devin McCourty, Tavon Wilson, Harmon, Adrian Wilson, Steve Gregory, and Nate Ebner will all be fighting for what is likely going to be four or five spots. Harmon could mean the end of the line for Gregory and Ebner.
Role in 2013: I imagine the hope is that Tavon Wilson makes the jump to full-time starter this year, likely lining up at the strong safety position where he will split time with Adrian Wilson. This move will likely shift Devin McCourty over to free safety and allow Harmon to take over the hybrid role in dime packages that need a bigger guy to cover tight ends and defend against the run. Harmon will likely see some time on special teams as well his rookie season as he learns the ropes and grows into the role. Look for him to take the field on passing downs where the opponent goes a little bigger with their personnel and the threat of a run out of the backfield exists. If he had been drafted later, I would call 2013 a red shirt year for Harmon, but the fact that he was taken as early as he was leads me to believe that he will be in New England's immediate plans.