Patriots sign coveted UDFA Mark Harrison

Mark Harrison NFL Draft

Mark Harrison is the newest member of the Patriots from Greg Schiano’s 2009 recruiting class at Rutgers.

NEPD Editor: Mike Loyko

You can never have too many Rutgers players seems to be the theme of this off-season in Foxboro. Just when it looked like the Patriots were done adding former Scarlet Knights to the roster Bill Belichick strikes again, this time adding WR Mark Harrison to the roster. Harrison was a projected mid-round draft pick, but landed with the Patriots due to circumstances outside his control.

Let’s learn more about Mark Harrison the player.

It’s not an understatement to say that statistically Mark Harrison had the most impressive 2013 NFL Combine performance of any participant. During February’s combine Mark weighed in at just under 6’3″ tall and 231 lbs. When Harrison posted a 40 yard dash time of 4.46 seconds, a broad jump of 10’9″ and a vertical jump of 38.5 inches, people immediately took notice. A human being as big and heavy as Harrison isn’t supposed to put up those kind of agility numbers.

In fact, after the combine I took a look at just how rare Harrison’s combine performance was, and the results were very interesting. Since 2005 there have been only FOUR WR prospects to weigh in at 224 lbs or heavier, run sub 4.50, jump at least 37″ and broad jump at least 10’5″. Those four receivers were Calvin Johnson, Jonathan Baldwin, Matt Jones and Mark Harrison. Now those numbers don’t have any bearing on NFL success, but it goes to show the type of rare athleticism Harrison possesses.

Now comes the question as to why a player with as much physical talent aas Harrison has is available this late in the off-season.

The answer to that question has to be linked directly to Harrison’s foot injury which he suffered while warming up for his Rutgers Pro Day. Harrison broke his 5th metatarsal, which required surgery and kept him from working out for teams privately before the draft. Prior to the foot injury I was aware of at least two teams that had Mark as a 4th round selection and he was generally viewed as a mid-round selection in the draft.

As a result of the foot injury Harrison went undrafted and immediately became one of the most coveted UDFA on the market. The Bears initially signed Harrison, pairing him with his off-season workout partner, Brandon Marshall. Fortunately for Patriot fans, Harrison’s foot injury wasn’t 100% healthy and he failed his physical with Chicago.

It should come as no surprise that Harrison signed with New England yesterday, now that he is full healthy. The Patriots spent a lot of time with Mark prior to the draft, including sending offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Nick Caserio down to Rutgers to spend the day with him. Harrison becomes the 5th Rutgers player to be acquired through the draft or UDFA process.

Harrison will add speed and size to the perimeter of the offense. Something that has been lacking in big games the past two seasons. When you factor in Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce and now Mark Harrison it’s clear to see what the Patriots thinking was when choosing receivers this year. The biggest knock on Harrison will be his lack of production, despite his phenomenal physical abilities. Despite playing for four season’s he never posted more than 44 receptions or close to 1,000 yards. Despite that he did average more than 16 yards/catch.

While Boyce and Dobson are locks for the final roster. It will be very interesting to watch how the other rookie receivers, Harrison, TJ Moe and Kenbrell Thompkins fare in their battle for roster spots.

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14 Responses to “Patriots sign coveted UDFA Mark Harrison”

  1. MaineMan says:

    Hernandez 6023/250:
    – 4.64/40, 30 reps, 33 vert, 9.03 brd, 4.18 ssh, 6.83 3-cone

    Harrison 6027/231:
    – 4.46/40, 17 reps, 38.5 vert, 10.09 brd, 4.33 ssh, 6.99 3-cone

    B. Ford 6033/245:
    – 4.74/40, 17 reps, 37 vert, 9.10 brd, 4.67 ssh, 7.13 3-cone

    Jenkins 6044/220:
    – 4.45/40, x-reps, 34 vert, 10.06 brd, 4.31 ssh, 6.93 3-cone

    Dobson 6030/210:
    – 4.37/40, 16 reps, 35 vert, 10.01 brd, 4.33 ssh, 7.19 3-cone

    Gronk 6062/265:
    – 4.68/40, 23 reps, 33.5 vert, 9.11 brd, 4.47 ssh, 7.18 3-cone

    Sudfeld 6066/253:
    – 4.78/40, 11 reps, 37 vert, 9.05 brd, 4.41 ssh, 7.08 3-cone

    Ballard 6061/275:
    – pulled a hammy in his 40, but put up 17 reps and a 31.5 vert

    No doubt that the Pats now have a lot more large, athletic potential targets for Brady than they’ve ever had, in addition to the “little guys”:

    Edelman, 5013/195
    Amendola 5104/183
    Boyce 5110/206
    TJ Moe 5114/204
    D. Jones 6003/214
    Thompkins 6005/193
    K. Aiken 6011/213

    But it’s still the case that the smartest route-runners with the most reliable hands who know how to use whatever athleticism they have to get open and to block effectively when called upon are going to make the roster and get the most snaps and targets.

    Gronk, Hernandez, Amendola and Dobson are “locks”, but there are 1-2 TE spots and 3-4 WR spots open and a lot of potentially very good talent available to fill those spots. Seems very encouraging to me.

  2. Ralph says:

    No coach i’d rather have then BB, but i think he is going crazy with this whole Rutgers thing, close to 10 Rutgers players on the roster, i heard the Rutgers cleaning people came in for workouts., I don’t want the Pats to become a sideshow like the Cowboys(signed a whole bunch of Olympians that could run like the wind but couldn’t catch a cold), Jets…

    • MaineMan says:

      Really, BB has only invested three “meaningful” draft picks in three Rutgers DBs: McCourty (1st, 2010) and Ryan/Harmon (3rds in 2013) – all out of a secondary that has performed very well over several years in a scheme that’s very close to what the Pats run.

      As for the rest:

      – Beauharnais (7th round, #235 – nearly Mr. Irrelelvant)
      – Francis (UDFA, 2012 who performed better than expected last season)
      – Harrison and Brandon Jones (CB) are both UDFAs.
      – Haslam (UDFA OL from 2010) is a guy they probably started scouting before the Schiano-BB bromance blossomed and was likely acquired merely as an off-season temp for the defense to practice against.

      Moreover, the only Rutgers player on the roster whose salary has any 2013 cap impact whatsoever is McCourty’s. The rest of them are getting $555k or less.

      So, over half the Rutgers contingent comprises roster-end guys (potential special-teamers and PS candidates) who could have come from anywhere. Might as well take the guys you know the most about. I really don’t see what the big deal is over this.

  3. J H TARBORO says:

    Watch out for Brandon Ford of Clemson, he is a bigger and faster Hernandez at 6’3″ 240lbs. on our roster at TE.

  4. Pats Fan says:

    Harrison will get a BB redshirt for this year He will spend the year on IR

  5. Derrick says:

    His 40 time was 4.60 not 4.46, per the official NFL combine results.

  6. Matt says:

    Man this years WR corps has a ton of potential.


    Amendola, Boyce, Dobson, Slater as locks that leaves

    2-3 spots for Jones, Hawkins, Edelman, Harrison, Moe, Jenkins

    if Hawkins can replace Edelman’s talent with WR production that leaves

    1-2 spots. I’d go with Moe as a back up slot and Mark Harrison as a gigantic developmental player. if not Jones. Jenkins can be called in case of an emergency during the season.

    ideally Harrison or Moe one of them can make the roster the other can be put on PUP or stashed on the practice squad.

    Jenkins is the call up guy as well as Jones.

    i’m predicting the WR corps to be 7 including slater
    -Dobson, Amendola, Boyce, Slater, Hawkins, Harrison
    with Moe either IRed or Practice Squader
    Jones and Jenkins are on the red phone.

    the 7 WRs will be at the expense of the RB corps who will probably cut Leon Washington or Blount
    -Vereen Ridley Blount/Washington Bolden

    4 TEs
    -Ballard, Gronk, Hernandez, Hooman/Sufield

    • MikeInMaine says:

      Washington won’t be cut!!! He’s our best return guy by a freakin 100 miles. We didn’t get him to be a RB. I think Blount was brought in to kick Bolden in the ass/ compete with him. Blount is a Mack truck, but had a ‘tude in TB. Felt he wasn’t utilized properly/ enough. I hope Bolden wins out. He was a beast immediately last season- in summer camp; showing up Ridley in three different ways.

  7. Stephen S says:

    So if healthy would of been a 4th rounder by 2 teams and Pats ended up with him as an udfa so a steal maybe this years Alfonzo Dennard

    Just imagine Gronk Dobson Harrison Amendola Hernandez in the red zone

    Could 2 undrafted free agent receivers make the 53 man squad in Harrison and Moe

    Read that Harrison could convert to TE is that possible could he fill in temporarily for Gronk if he went on Pup to start the year

    • Stephen S says:

      Harrison maybe athletic and big but he isn’t Gronk sized

    • Trevor M. says:

      Harrison is more like Hernandez but a bit bigger. I guess Harrison is sort of in-between Hernandez & Gronk. I guess he could be another WR that masquerades as a TE like Hernandez (even Gronk lines up outside and in the slot sometimes, too.)

      Gronkowski, Hernandez, Ballard, Hoo-man, & Harrison for TE.

      Amendola, Boyce, Dobson, Edleman, Moe, Hawkins for WR. + Slater on ST.

      That could work.

  8. Trevor says:

    Awesome pick-up potentially.

    Who is going to make the roster???

    Amendola, Dobson, Boyce are locks.

    TJ Moe, Hawkins, and Harrison? Slater as ST lock. That’s 7 WR total.

    That’s my guess.

  9. J H TARBORO says:

    We need this big Anquan Bolden type receiver, teach him and keep him!

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