Earlier this week, minicamp started and minicamp ended. This means that the mandatory phase of the New England Patriots' offseason workouts is over as well – at least until training camp starts in late July. Until then, we have re-entered the quiet parts of the NFL calendar.
However, while the football world seemingly turns slower these days it does not stop. After all, by late August, each team has to start making its roster cuts. Until then, players have to secure their spots on the team; they need to do their jobs (well) or someone else will.
Over the course of the next few weeks, we will take a look at the men fighting for those spots on the 2016 New England Patriots. Today, we'll take a look at safety Duron Harmon.
Name: Duron Harmon
Position: Free safety
Jersey number: 30
Size: 6'1, 205 lbs.
2015 review: When the Patriots drafted Harmon in the third round of the 2013 NFL Draft, he was seen as yet another defensive back reach by the Patriots. However, unlike 2012 second-rounder Tavon Wilson, who saw the majority of his time on special teams, Harmon turned into a solid defensive back; one, that has had his best season in 2015.
The former Rutgers Scarlet Knight appeared in all 18 of New England’s 2015 games and was the team’s number three safety and number five defensive back. Overall, he played 53.9% of the Patriots’ snaps – while also playing the tenth most special teams snaps.
As the Patriots’ second free safety behind Devin McCourty, Harmon was mostly used to cover the deep parts of the field – often as the lone centerfield player – allowing the team to use McCourty in a variety of roles. Harmon looked comfortable in this role last season, and his stat-line reflects this.
He allowed only four of 11 passes thrown in his direction to be completed for 69 yards. While he allowed two touchdowns, Harmon also intercepted three passes and broke up three more. His 58.5 passer rating was the best among New England’s regularly used defensive backs.
2016 preview: Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Harmon is once again projected to be an integral member of the Patriots’ defense. As has been the case the last two seasons, he will serve as the team’s third safety and primary backup to McCourty.
The 25-year old saw the majority of his snaps last year as a deep safety, a role he will likely resume in 2016. After all, while Harmon is the least versatile of New England’s top three safeties, he did become better each year in the NFL to a point where he is now an important cog in the team’s defensive machine.
Having Harmon as a trustworthy deep centerfielder in turn allows the team to be creative with its usage of McCourty and starting strong safety Patrick Chung. Therefore, Harmon will again see consistent playing time despite talented young players like Jordan Richards, Justin Coleman and Cyrus Jones vying for spots on the team’s nickel and dime packages.
While he doesn’t have the range of Devin McCourty or the versatility of Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon is a good role player within New England’s defensive scheme. He improved every season and will have another one before his contract expires – not only to prove his worth to the Patriots but to potential free agency suitors as well.