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NFL draft results 2022: Why the Patriots selected South Carolina RB Kevin Harris

After adding Pierre Strong Jr., New England added Kevin Harris at No. 183 overall.

NCAA Football: South Carolina at Kentucky Arden Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After taking South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong Jr., the New England Patriots went back to running back in the sixth round of the 2022 NFL draft.

The war room did so to select South Carolina’s Kevin Harris at No. 183 overall late Saturday afternoon.

Here’s a initial glance into why.

Atop the SEC rushing ranks in 2020

Harris turned 358 carries into 1,798 yards and 23 touchdowns on the ground during his South Carolina career.

The final run in Columbia began with a back procedure last summer and ended after 660 rushing yards, four touchdowns as well as an illness and an ankle injury that limited Harris to six starts. But it also ended on a high with 31 handoffs for 182 yards and a score in the Duke’s Mayo Bowl versus North Carolina.

As a sophomore the prior fall, Harris made 10 starts and was a second-team All-SEC selection who led the league with 1,138 rushing yards. That tally ranked fifth in single-season program history while his 113.8 yards per game made him the first Gamecock to rank atop the league.

A power player

Harris’ 1,000-yard campaign in 2020 would be the 11th in South Carolina history. It would also be the first since since Mike Davis hit the milestone in 2013.

It arrived in downhill manner at 5-foot-10, 221 pounds, not unlike the current Atlanta Falcons back. Harris ran the 40-yard dash in 4.62 seconds and leaped for a 37 1/2-inch vertical to go with a 10-foot-3 broad jump at his pro day. Prior to then, he put up 21 reps on the bench press at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“Big, bruising runner with good vision and the self-awareness to understand that power running is what will butter his bread,” NFL Media draft analyst Lance Zierlein’s scouting report read.

Ball security

In addition to the carries, Harris caught 35 passes for 274 yards an additional visit to the end zone as a member of the Gamecocks. He fumbled once across his 28 appearances.

That level of ball security checks in as a prerequisite for New England’s running backs, who combined to surrender six last regular season.

Another Harris is now one of them. The 21-year-old joins a depth chart featuring Damien Harris, Rhamondre Stevenson, James White, J.J. Taylor, Devine Ozigbo, Ty Montgomery and the aforementioned Strong.


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