If the Pats keep drafting cornerbacks the way they do, Miami’s Brandon Harris fits the mold
|02.27.11 at 11:52 am ET|
INDIANAPOLIS — Would the Patriots spend another pick on a cornerback?
Despite having already drafted Devin McCourty (first round, 2010), Darius Butler (second round, 2009) and Terrence Wheatley (second round, 2008; released last season), it isn’t far-fetched that the Pats could spend one of their first four picks, all of which are in the first two rounds, on a corner. With Leigh Bodden returning from shoulder surgery and Butler taking a step backwards in his development as a second-year player, the argument could be made that the Pats could stand to add an impact player at the position.
This year’s cornerback class boasts top 10 talents in LSU’s Patrick Peterson and Nebraska’s Prince Amukamara, but there is a solid group of corners that follow those two, including Miami’s Brandon Harris. Despite declaring for the draft after his junior season, he is very experienced, having been a three-year starter.
“Being able to be a three-year starter, it gives me a whole lot of confidence,” Harris said Sunday. “I came into Miami as a freshman and was able to earn a starting spot in playing there an getting a lot of experience playing against a lot of big-time college players. Every year my confidence rose. I’m at the point right now that my confidence is so high and I believe in myself a ton.
“I would definitely consider myself a shutdown corner,” he added when asked.
Depending on how he performs at the scouting combine, Harris could go anywhere from the middle of the first round to somewhere in the second round. He doesn’t have the size of the other second-tier cornerbacks like Colorado’s Jimmy Smith, but he’s confident in his abilities.
“Me being what they consider a smaller cornerback, I think it helps me to come from a system like Miami, where I was able to still be aggressive and be physical with some of the bigger receivers,” he said.
“A lot of them don’t expect guys of my six to be able to do [that]. I’m very quick in coverage, and I can run with the best of them, but when I’m able to use my footwork at the line and put my hands on guys, that’s something that a lot of guys are impressed by when they see me do that, being that I’m not 6-foot or 6-foot-1, or anything like that.”
Harris was measured at 5-foot-9 and 193 pounds. While that might strike some as undersized, it should be noted that none of the three cornerbacks the Pats drafted in the first two rounds over the last three years have been taller than 5-foot-10. As it stands, Bodden (6-foot-1) is the only cornerback on the roster that stands taller than 5-foot-11.
So for the speedy Harris, he just may fit the mold for the Patriots. He also spoke about the versatility he brings to the cornerback position, something that would make him more attractive were he to start out by contributing as a nickel.
“I’m able to do a lot of things on the football field. They played me in the slot a lot, and they also played me outside at corner, so I was able to move around and make a lot of plays,” Harris said. “Being able to blitz from the outside and also cover guys man-to-man in the slot. I was able to do a lot of things that they wanted me to do.”