Patriots Prospect Predicted to Be ‘Surprise Rookie Gem’

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The New England Patriots have their share of intriguing rookies from this year’s draft class as well as a few undrafted free agents.

First-round pick Cole Strange and second-rounder Tyquan Thornton will draw most of the attention through training camp and the preseason. However, it’s Kevin Harris, a sixth-round selection out of South Carolina who has been tabbed by Ian Wharton of Bleacher Report as the Patriots “surprise rookie gem.”

“The Patriots shockingly drafted two rushers this year,” Wharton pointed out. “Fourth-round pick Pierre Strong Jr. and sixth-round pick Kevin Harris have drastically different styles. Strong is the more impressive raw athlete but is not ready to help in the passing game, making him more likely to redshirt for 2023. However, Harris has a pro-ready skill set.”

Harris has shown the ability to make an impact as a rusher and receiver out of the backfield. During his three-year career at South Carolina, Harris rushed for 1,977 yards and 23 TDs. Most of that production came during his sophomore season. Injuries slowed him in 2021, though he wrapped up his collegiate career with 182-yard performance against the North Carolina Tar Heels.


Kevin Harris – South Carolina RB #20 vs North Carolina (2021)Kevin Harris – South Carolina RB #20 vs North Carolina (2021) Join us online at thedynastyinterview.com for more content! ** Coming Soon ** Complete 2022 NFL Rookie Class Player Profiles, Combine Stats, Pro vs Cons, Career Stats, Dynasty Rookie Rankings, and…. MUCH MORE! Welcome Dynasty Lovers to the 2022 NFL Rookie Film Room! For in-depth…2022-03-27T08:16:43Z

Harris also caught 35 passes for 274 yards and a TD with the Gamecocks. At 5’10” 221 pounds, he’s built like a mountain with humongous legs. Harris’ powerful style seems tailor-made for the kinds of inside, between-the-tackles running the Patriots like to employ.

NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein likened Harris to former San Francisco 49ers running back Carlos Hyde.

“Kevin Harris was a dominant rusher at South Carolina before a back injury derailed his collegiate career and drastically hurt his draft stock,” Wharton added. “He’s similar to incumbent starter Damien Harris. Considering Damien Harris missed two games in 2021 and that he’s a free agent after this season, the door is open for his replacement to earn a solid workload.”

The Patriots also have the uber-talented Rhamondre Stevenson, so depth at running back shouldn’t be a major concern. Is it possible the Patriots might even consider trading Damien Harris because of the wealth of young running backs on their roster?

New England made a slightly similar deal ahead of the 2021 season when it dealt Sony Michel to the Los Angeles Rams for a fifth and sixth-round selection. Harris could potentially bring back more in return than Michel considering he’s a year younger at 25 than Michel was when the deal was done last season.

In any case, Kevin Harris is going to be one to watch during preseason when he should get his first opportunity to impress Patriots Nation.


In Other Patriots News: The Time is Now for Jonnu Smith

The Patriots desperately need Jonnu Smith to have a better season than he did in 2021. After signing a four-year, $50 million free-agent deal last offseason, Smith was one of the NFL’s biggest disappointments among the most major acquisitions.

Smith managed just 28 receptions for 294 yards and a TD in 2021. USA Today’s Henry McKenna says now-former Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels couldn’t get Smith involved in New England’s attack.

One of the major measurements for the success of this year’s offense could be Smith’s production. Prior to the 2021 season, Smith averaged just under 5 TDs per season (rushing and receiving). The Patriots need for him to get closer to that total, or perhaps even surpass it in what New England hopes will be a career year for the 26-year-old.


In Other Patriots News: Patriots Blasted For Trading Shaq Mason

Will the Patriots miss Shaq Mason?

We won’t know the answer to that question until the end of the 2022 season or until someone on the offensive line gets hurt.

In a cost-cutting move this offseason, New England traded Mason to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a sixth-round pick. As it stands, the Patriots are expected to start C- David Andrews, G – Cole Strange, G – Mike Onwenu, T- Trent Brown and T- Isaiah Wynn.

That’s a solid group, but if someone goes down with an injury, the Patriots won’t have a solid young utility man to turn to on their depth chart. In 2021, that role was filled by Onwenu. With him moving back into the starting lineup, ESPN’s Bill Barnwell questioned whether the Patriots made the right decision trading Mason.

“The Pats’ hands were tied by what they did last offseason, but I would have liked to see them find a way to keep Mason,” Barnwell wrote. “Even if New England thinks Strange will emerge as a superstar, retaining Mason would have allowed the team to keep Mike Onwenu in a utility role, which is extremely important given how frequently Brown and fellow tackle Isaiah Wynn have been injured over the past few seasons.”

Only time will tell if this gamble will bite the Patriots, or if they will watch their new-look O-Line become elite.

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