With the No. 91 pick in the 2013 NFL Draft, the Patriots chose a guy no one has ever heard of.
It’s officially become a two-year tradition, the safety that has beat writers, draft analysts and fans quickly scouring the internet for any information they can find. Last year it was Tavon Wilson out of Illinois at No. 48, this year — Duron Harmon, Rutgers.
Fans will moan, writers will mock and his name will become a running joke for at least the next few months until fans find reasons to like him in training camp. I’m not saying I support the pick or reject the pick. I can’t really say either way, I’ve never watched him.
Sure, I spent time watching Logan Ryan, New England’s other Rutgers third-round defensive back selection, but a “Duron Harmon” never flashed by my retinas and registered a response. That’s not to say he’s a bad player. I have no idea, like most people.
There’s a theory that Bill Belichick is just trolling with these picks. Sure, that could be possible. But Belichick is a pretty smart guy, and making a joke out of a third-round pick seems a little out of character, no?
It’s likely that Harmon really was the top player on the Patriots’ board — that doesn’t mean they had him overly high, though. I know that the Patriots were trying to trade out of the No. 91 pick, which is why it took them so long to make a selection. It came down to the wire and Harmon was the pick.
What internet scouts don’t take into account, and Belichick does highly, is character. And Harmon is another high-character guy. And since he succeeded under Greg Schiano with the Scarlet Knights, Belichick knows he can do the same under “the Patriot Way.” Both are hard-nosed coaches who run their teams like drill sergeants.
Belichick also has all the information he needs on the new Patriots safety from his son, and coaching assistant, Steve Belichick, who spent the 2011 season as a long snapper at Rutgers. If Steve likes him and knows he can work, he can work.
You wouldn’t believe some of the responses the Harmon pick has garnered on Twitter, and really, you just need to look at my friend Mike Loyko of NEPatriotsDraft.com’s Twitter feed to see the most extreme. Loyko, who is one of the most respected amateur scouts in the business, said Harmon is “the worst draft pick I can ever recall.” Yeesh.
Outside of Harmon, the Patriots didn’t go too far off the typical consensus board. Jamie Collins was taken in the right spot, Aaron Dobson was considered a second- or third-rounder and Logan Ryan was actually a nice steal at No. 82. And for those pairing the Harmon pick with the trade down, stop. New England received Collins and Ryan with the picks from the Vikings, not Harmon.
So what can we say about Harmon? He had a high GPA, which the Patriots love. He probably would have aced the wonderlic too, if he got an invite to the combine. Maybe he would have been the next safety off the board if New England hadn’t taken him — doubtful, but possible. No team will ever come out and say they didn’t have Harmon on their board.
He ran a 4.51-second 40-yard dash at the Rutgers pro day, which is not bad at 196 pounds. He also ran a 7.02-second 3-cone drill, which is right in line with a typical New England safety pick.
The Patriots didn’t get much out of their third-round pick last year in Jake Bequette. But they went off the board with a third-rounder in 2011 that everyone panned with Stevan Ridley, and that one has worked out pretty well so far.
While I hate to say the draft is a crapshoot, at times it is. And at the very least, we know Harmon will contribute on special teams, he’ll follow the Patriot Way, he won’t get into trouble, he’ll pick up the playbook quickly and he’ll have plenty of friends on the team and coaching staff. Devin McCourty, Justin Francis, Ryan and the younger Belichick all played for the Scarlet Knights. And hey, there are plenty of Rutgers players left for New England to take in the rest of the draft — some of whom Patriots fans probably wanted a lot whole lot more than Harmon, like Khaseem Greene and Mark Harrison.
Sure, there were some big names left on the board, like Da’Rick Rogers, Matt Barkley, Denard Robinson, Cornelius Washington and Marcus Lattimore, but that’s not really Belichick’s style. He likes to know as much about his picks as possible, and he needs to know they’re at the very least going to work their hardest. Harmon will do that.
Photo via Facebook/Rutgers Football from B/R