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.