With the NFL’s 2019 draft in the rear-view mirror, the analysis of every selection and trade made is well underway. One term pops up pretty often in this process: steal. A player picked later as was originally anticipated — whatever the reason may be for his slide down the board — often gets labeled as a steal by writers or analysts. One of them to recently use the term is former NFL player and current NFL Network host Nate Burleson.
Burleson, who spent eleven seasons in the league between 2003 and 2013, named one of the players drafted by the New England Patriots as his personal ‘steal of the draft’ — and you probably would not have guessed who it was (except when, you know, paying attention to the image used for this article):
Damien Harris, the Patriots’ third-round pick out of Alabama, certainly is an intriguing player. As colleague PatrioticChief writes in his analysis of the 22-year-old running back, he may not be the highest-upside prospect but will fill a need the team deemed worthy of filling through the draft: Harris will likely serve as New England’s short-yardage back and rotational option alongside top early-down option Sony Michel.
“If the Patriots draft a running back you better go ‘Boom! High alert! This individual is going to be a superstar! He’s going to make play after play after play!’” Burleson said when talking about Harris as his personal steal of the draft. And the ex-Detroit Lions receiver has a point: the Patriots have been excellent recently at finding and developing running backs that fit into their offense — from the aforementioned Michel to James White and Shane Vereen.
Whether or not Harris will one day enter that same stratosphere remains to be seen, but he certainly has some intriguing potential as a rotational runner in New England’s scheme.