Damien Harris: Adding to the stable

DrewDawg

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https://patriotswire.usatoday.com/2019/04/27/analysis-alabama-damien-harris/

“Look, everybody knows what we think about the Alabama program and how highly regarded it is and the mutual respect that Bill and Nick [Saban] have for one another,” Nick Caserio said of Harris on Friday night. “But this guy has been a pretty consistently productive player, so this more, I would say, falls into ‘good football’ player category relative to the other options that we were looking at on the board, that’s where he kind of fell.”
 

Dr. Gonzo

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Great pick with Burkhead and Michel being questionable to play 16 games. While Patterson filled in competently last year a talent like this is better to have as an option at RB.
 

EL Jeffe

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He has a lot of Sony Michel's similarities; good feet, hips and balance, runs with power and through contact but marginal long speed as he gets chased down too often (as did Michel at UGa). Michel was a bit more dynamic coming out, but Harris has a much cleaner injury history. Clearly there were bigger needs, but Harris is the sort of physical back the Patriots want to employ to wear down defenses and control the game. Unlike past Alabama backs, he doesn't enter the NFL with a quarter of a tank of gas left. He and Winovich were pretty safe picks who I expect to play as rookies (particularly Winovich).
 

Ale Xander

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He's here for the goal line and short yardage carries too. Reputation for not losing yardage and not fumbling.
He was also the top rated RB coming out of HS IIRC, so he has talent.
Plus all the intangibles (staying a year to tutor the kids, like was done for him, and it probably cost him a round)
 

Dick Pole Upside

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He's here for the goal line and short yardage carries too. Reputation for not losing yardage and not fumbling.
He was also the top rated RB coming out of HS IIRC, so he has talent.
Plus all the intangibles (staying a year to tutor the kids, like was done for him, and it probably cost him a round)
He originally committed to Michigan, but quickly de-committed during the tire fire that was Brady Hoke's last year. By the time Harbaugh came aboard, it was way too late to get him back.

He reminds me a little of Mark Ingram. Short, but pretty stout and runs tough (if not fast). Apparently he's a decent receiver as well, so that helps. I like this as a value pick. I think the Michel-Harris-White 3-headed beast will be fun to watch.
 

j44thor

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Don't love the pick. I think he will do well but virtually any UDFA RB should do well behind this line. How much better will he be vs. a street FA or post June cut is the question for me. Would rather they used this pick on a bigger need. He seems to be more BJGE than LGBT.
 

Eck'sSneakyCheese

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Don't love the pick. I think he will do well but virtually any UDFA RB should do well behind this line. How much better will he be vs. a street FA or post June cut is the question for me. Would rather they used this pick on a bigger need. He seems to be more BJGE than LGBT.
If I had a nickel for every time the bolded was said in a Pats draft thread...
 

Super Nomario

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He has a lot of Sony Michel's similarities; good feet, hips and balance, runs with power and through contact but marginal long speed as he gets chased down too often (as did Michel at UGa). Michel was a bit more dynamic coming out, but Harris has a much cleaner injury history. Clearly there were bigger needs, but Harris is the sort of physical back the Patriots want to employ to wear down defenses and control the game. Unlike past Alabama backs, he doesn't enter the NFL with a quarter of a tank of gas left. He and Winovich were pretty safe picks who I expect to play as rookies (particularly Winovich).
I've theorized before that, in a post- Gronk world, they might shift to more specialized TEs but compensate with more diverse RBs. If Michel and Harris can develop their pass- catching games to become versatile, near- interchangeable pieces, that will bring a nice element to the O.
 

BigSoxFan

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Don't love the pick. I think he will do well but virtually any UDFA RB should do well behind this line. How much better will he be vs. a street FA or post June cut is the question for me. Would rather they used this pick on a bigger need. He seems to be more BJGE than LGBT.
One injury to Michel or Burkhead and this pick starts looking really good. I think having a solid Bama RB waiting in the wings is going to pay dividends this year.
 

Jeff Van GULLY

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Doesn’t Harris take the Jeremy Hill role? Pats had planned for similar backfield structure last year.
 

j44thor

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Doesn’t Harris take the Jeremy Hill role? Pats had planned for similar backfield structure last year.
Yes except at a 3rd rd cost. I think you could have filled 85% of Harris if not significantly more with a udfa or post June cut.
Cordarrelle Paterson was effective behind this line not because he is a special runner but because the line is special.
 

SMU_Sox

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CP84 was a running back last year. They’ve had injuries at the position. Harris was seen similarly by nfl forecasters and independent draft people. 66th overall on Arif Hasan’s big board (averages all the big boards and notes forecasters vs independent type guys). Not that the Patriots give a damn but decent value 20 picks later.
I don’t evaluate picks based on should they have gone a different position. In a vacuum he’s a great fit and from what I have read and seen I like him as a prospect. Waldman’s 3rd overall running back FWIW.

On the other hand I do wonder if they should have gone WR or TE here.
 

BigSoxFan

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CP84 was a running back last year. They’ve had injuries at the position. Harris was seen similarly by nfl forecasters and independent draft people. 66th overall on Arif Hasan’s big board (averages all the big boards and notes forecasters vs independent type guys). Not that the Patriots give a damn but decent value 20 picks later.
I don’t evaluate picks based on should they have gone a different position. In a vacuum he’s a great fit and from what I have read and seen I like him as a prospect. Waldman’s 3rd overall running back FWIW.

On the other hand I do wonder if they should have gone WR or TE here.
I think I’d much rather have Harris than either Boykin or Butler there. None of the available TEs were that intriguing either, IMO.
 

SMU_Sox

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I think I’d much rather have Harris than either Boykin or Butler there. None of the available TEs were that intriguing either, IMO.
I think that’s fair. 3rd round picks are gambles anyway. Great depth to the position group. There will be a draft next year and potential to trade for guys in the summer so it’s not like TE and WR can’t be improved in the future. I think having the depth to keep a strength a strength is important too.
 

Byrdbrain

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Super Nomario

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Doesn’t Harris take the Jeremy Hill role? Pats had planned for similar backfield structure last year.
I'm not sure how much Hill was really going to play once Michel was healthy. That might not have been a big role. Harris plays a lot of special teams. He might be like a cross between Hill and Burkhead.
 

Ale Xander

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I'm not sure how much Hill was really going to play once Michel was healthy. That might not have been a big role. Harris plays a lot of special teams. He might be like a cross between Hill and Burkhead.
Hopefully he learns a lot from Bolden and takes over the Bolden role in a ear or 2.
 

DrewDawg

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I don’t think they drafted Harris to be essentially a special teams guy.

He’s gonna get carries.
 

Cellar-Door

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Harris seems like an attempt to combine the Bolden and Hill/Burkhead roles into a single player. Bolden makes the team consistently because he's a top special teamer who can generally be trusted to run it in an emergency and not make mistakes. Harris was a good special teamer in college, but hopefully offers far more as a running back.
 

Eddie Jurak

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I don’t think they drafted Harris to be essentially a special teams guy.

He’s gonna get carries.
Don’t forget Sony Michel’s injury concerns. Harris can step in and replace Sony moreso than anyone else on the depth chart. Would keep from overusing White and Burkhead.
A couple of things:

1. Michel and Burkhead both have had injury concerns during their Patriot careers.
2. In recent years, the Pats have often tended to split the workload between multiple backs - not including the 3rd down back.
3. When healthy, Michel had a fairly heavy workload - including playoffs, 280 carries in 16 games (10 starts). Their highest use backs (in terms of carries):

2018: Michel, 280 (16G)
2017: Lewis, 213 (19 G)
2016: LGB, 334 (19G)
2015: LGB, 165 (12G)
2014: LGB, 172 (19G, 11 w/PIT)
2013: Ridley, 197 (16G) and LGB 182 (18G)
2012: Ridley, 323 (18G)
2011: Law Firm, 219 (19G)
2010: Law Firm, 238 (17G)
2009: Maroney, 195 (16G)

So, Michel carried a heavier workload that all but 3 Pats RBs in the past decade, despite a late start and missing some games with injuries.

Pretty clear they want more depth and versatility and to share the workload, because they want to run it more than in many years past.
 

Super Nomario

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Harris seems like an attempt to combine the Bolden and Hill/Burkhead roles into a single player. Bolden makes the team consistently because he's a top special teamer who can generally be trusted to run it in an emergency and not make mistakes. Harris was a good special teamer in college, but hopefully offers far more as a running back.
Burkhead plays a lot of special teams, too. It's crazy how similar the bodies in the backfield are:
Michel: 5'11", 214
Burkhead: 5'10", 214
Harris: 5'10", 216
with White a little smaller at 5'9" 204 and Bolden a bit bigger at Bolden: 5'11", 222

I wonder how high they had Harris ranked among RB. Wouldn't surprise me if he was their #1 or #2 RB in the draft. I think they got three guys they ranked as the best or near-best at their positions in Harry, Williams, and Harris. Four if you count Bailey.
 

E5 Yaz

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Burkhead plays a lot of special teams, too. It's crazy how similar the bodies in the backfield are:
Michel: 5'11", 214
Burkhead: 5'10", 214
Harris: 5'10", 216
with White a little smaller at 5'9" 204 and Bolden a bit bigger at Bolden: 5'11", 222

I wonder how high they had Harris ranked among RB. Wouldn't surprise me if he was their #1 or #2 RB in the draft. I think they got three guys they ranked as the best or near-best at their positions in Harry, Williams, and Harris. Four if you count Bailey.
Jeff Saturday talking today how they will just rotate fresh legs against defenses that will be getting increasingly tire because of the emphasis on rushing instead of tackling
 

Super Nomario

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Jeff Saturday talking today how they will just rotate fresh legs against defenses that will be getting increasingly tire because of the emphasis on rushing instead of tackling
I think so. And another thing I've noticed: Harris and Michel were both considered perhaps the best pass-blocking RBs in their respective classes. N'Keal Harry was perhaps the best blocking WR in this draft class. Ryan Izzo, who they grabbed in the 7th last year, was among the best blocking tight ends. OK, Berrios isn't really in this mold, but you're talking about 4/5 skill players in the last two drafts where blocking was a big part of their scouting report.

Then you look at what they've invested in the OL: a first, three thirds, five fourths, and two sixths since 2014, which doesn't include the third traded for Trent Brown. They want to block really, really well.
 

BaseballJones

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RB: Michel, Harris, White, Burkhead, Develin, Bolden

Bolden is a core special teamer. Develin isn't really a RB but more of a one-man FB unit. I don't know that they can keep all of these guys, unless they go light on WR. But I don't see any way they draft Harris and don't keep him (barring injury). White is too valuable. Develin as well. So I think Burkhead and Bolden are up for grabs, with Bolden staying being more likely due to his contract being guaranteed.

But as we all know....who the heck knows?

I do love the idea of two young stud RBs being able to hammer a defense all day long.
 

tims4wins

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If Bolden makes the team and Rex is cut... well, I won’t quit the team or anything, duh, but that would be preposterous IMO.
 

BaseballJones

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If Bolden makes the team and Rex is cut... well, I won’t quit the team or anything, duh, but that would be preposterous IMO.
Well it all depends on how much value they put on Bolden and ST. None of us have any real sense as to how BB weighs all this stuff.
 

Saints Rest

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Well it all depends on how much value they put on Bolden and ST. None of us have any real sense as to how BB weighs all this stuff.
I think it’s pretty clear that BB values ST extremely highly. Slater, Ebner, King, Bolden, (and going further back, Izzo, Chatham, et al) are players who have had little to no play on O or D but have been as close to roster locks as anyone not named Brady or Gronk.
I think Bolden would have been on this team last year if BB’s expected (and repeated) use of roster cut-down/re-sign two days later had worked out. I think the guaranteed $ in his contract this year was an apology of sorts for that.
That said, If you count only the players likely to carry the ball in the offense, keeping four (White, Michel, Harris, and Burkhead) isn’t that outlandish.
I expect two TEs, plus Develin.
And I expect 5 core ST: Slater, Ebner, Bolden, King, plus one more, probably a DB, like Obi.
 

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Well it all depends on how much value they put on Bolden and ST. None of us have any real sense as to how BB weighs all this stuff.
I think it’s pretty clear that BB values ST extremely highly. Slater, Ebner, King, Bolden, (and going further back, Izzo, Chatham, et al) are players who have had little to no play on O or D but have been as close to roster locks as anyone not named Brady or Gronk.
I think Bolden would have been on this team last year if BB’s expected (and repeated) use of roster cut-down/re-sign two days later had worked out. I think the guaranteed $ in his contract this year was an apology of sorts for that.
That said, If you count only the players likely to carry the ball in the offense, keeping four (White, Michel, Harris, and Burkhead) isn’t that outlandish.
I expect two TEs, plus Develin.
And I expect 5 core ST: Slater, Ebner, Bolden, King, plus one more, probably a DB, like Obi.
 

( . ) ( . ) and (_!_)

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If Bolden makes the team and Rex is cut... well, I won’t quit the team or anything, duh, but that would be preposterous IMO.
Bolden contributing on special teams for 16 games if probably more valuable than Burkhead contributing as a running back for 9 games.

I really like Rex Burkhead the player. Michel has yet to show much in the passing game, White isn't much of a running and Harris is a rookie. Burkhead currently offers the best combo run or catch threat they have. But he has played 16 games in only 2 of his 16 seasons (games played: 1, 9, 16, 16, 10, 8). He was at the top of the RN depth chart his Junior and Senior year at Nebraska, but missed 6 games his senior season. This isn't bad luck or flukes, it's a trend.

Any projection for Burkhead's 2019 season that does not assume him to miss a significant amount of games is foolish.

He is a better running back than Bolden, no argument there. But why cut another player to keep a guy that is a safe bet to miss games at some point?
 

Super Nomario

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RB: Michel, Harris, White, Burkhead, Develin, Bolden

Bolden is a core special teamer. Develin isn't really a RB but more of a one-man FB unit. I don't know that they can keep all of these guys, unless they go light on WR. But I don't see any way they draft Harris and don't keep him (barring injury). White is too valuable. Develin as well. So I think Burkhead and Bolden are up for grabs, with Bolden staying being more likely due to his contract being guaranteed.
They actually lose $500K in cap space if they cut Burkhead - he's got $2 MM more in dead money from his signing bonus and $1.5 MM in guaranteed salary. He's also their second-best receiving back behind White and plays a lot of special teams. He's got way more guaranteed money than Bolden.

It would be unusual to carry six RBs, but it would also be unusual to get rid of any of the top six based on what remains of their contracts. They might ride it out through camp and try to trade someone if everyone is healthy.