Despite entering the NFL Draft with one of the deepest running back rooms in the league, the New England Patriots decided to spend not one but two selections at the position. The first was used on Pierre Strong in the fourth round, the second on Kevin Harris in the sixth.
After already taking a look at Strong earlier this week, let’s now get to know Harris.
Name: Kevin Harris
School: South Carolina (Junior)
Position: Running back
Opening day age: 21
Size: 5097, 221 lbs, 31 1/4 arm, 76 3/4 wingspan, 9 1/4 hand
Measurements: 4.62 40-yard dash, 37 1/2” vertical jump, 10’3” broad jump, 4.26 short shuttle, 7.39 3-cone, 21 bench press
Career: A three-star recruit, Harris received only one power-five scholarship offer out of high school. He accepted, and spent his entire three-year college career at South Carolina. During his time with the Gamecocks, he appeared in 28 games — including 16 as the team’s starter. Along the way, he proved himself a productive player.
Despite seeing only minimal action as a true freshman and seeing his production drop as a junior after undergoing offseason back surgery, Harris still finished his time in Columbia with 358 carries for 1,798 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was at his best as a sophomore in 2020, leading the SEC in rushing yards per game (113.8) and getting voted to the second all-conference team after a 185-1,138-15 campaign.
Strengths: Harris is a powerful runner, who hits holes with a purpose and has the structural understanding and patience to let his blocks develop. He also showed some good ball security in college, fumbling just once in 393 career touches.
Weaknesses: While he has some impressive explosiveness, Harris tested badly both in the 40-yard dash and the three-cone drill. His lack of outstanding athletic traits in those areas limit his ceiling.
What is his projected role in New England? Harris projects primarily as an early-down and short-yardage in the Patriots’ system. He possesses some good initial burst and a bulky frame at 6-foot-0, 221 pounds, and could therefore find some early playing time as a package-specific player and on special teams.
Where does he fit on the running back depth chart? The Patriots are well-set at the top of their running back depth chart, with Damien Harris and Rhamondre Stevenson projected as the one-two punch at the position. Kevin Harris, meanwhile, projects as the number three early-down option behind them. His chances of making the roster still appear to be slim at the moment given the depth ahead of him; unless James White starts the year on the physically unable to perform list he might be headed for the practice squad.
Does he have positional versatility? Harris has some experience as a receiver out of the backfield, catching 35 passes during his time at South Carolina for 274 yards and a touchdown. His lack of elusiveness and straight-line speed, however, will likely impact his usage at the next level and prevent him from becoming a truly versatile player.
What is his special teams value? Having no experience as a kickoff or punt returner, Harris will likely have to leave his mark on the coverage teams and as a blocker on the two return squads. If he can find success in those assignments, he might be able to build a Brandon Bolden-esque career for himself.
One-sentence verdict: If the Patriots can get 2020 Kevin Harris he might become a factor on offense, but the circumstances work against him.
How would you grade the Patriots’ selection of RB Kevin Harris at No. 183?
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