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NFL Draft’s Potential Patriots: USC DT DaJohn Harris

03.19.12 at 3:44 pm ET
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WEEI.com will continue to offer daily insight and analysis regarding options that may be available to the Patriots when it comes to the 2012 NFL draft. Here is one is a series of profiles of players who could be on the board when it’s time for the Patriots to make a selection.

Defensive lineman DaJohn Harris skipped the scouting combine because of a heart issue, but he participated in USC's pro day March 7. (AP)

DaJOHN HARRIS

Position: Defensive tackle

School: Southern California

Height: 6-foot-3

Weight: 304 pounds

Achievements: Standout at 2012 East-West Shrine Game, second on USC with 7.0 tackles for loss in 2011

What he brings: When he’s playing at his best, DaJohn “Juicy” Harris is a disruptive force along the defensive front who creates penetration and is a demon in the run game. Harris, who played at nose tackle and 3-technique at USC and could also translate to a 3-4 defensive end, has great size for a defensive tackle and is solid in pursuit — again, when he’s at his best.

Talent was never the question for Harris, who has had his fair share of medical issues. The questions for many NFL scouts when it comes to Harris will be whether he can remain consistent and whether his conditioning or those medical issues are the source of his apparent late-game fatigue at USC.

Harris, a former redshirt senior, saw limited playing time in his first two seasons on the field because of a logjam of talent and his inconsistency on the field. Once he entered the starting lineup, Harris became a key part of the USC defense with his quickness off the snap and ability to penetrate. Outside of beating a blocker off of the snap, though, Harris is a limited pass rusher. He also suffers from a bad habit of firing high out of his stance, losing leverage and getting stood up by blockers.

While inconsistent, Harris shows flashes of dominance and could immediately be an asset to teams that could work him into a rotation a defensive tackle.

Where the Patriots could get him: Rounds 4-5

Notes: Harris comes into the draft with an array of red flags, the foremost of which being an all too familiar one with Patriots fans.

During Harris’ physical at February’s scouting combine, doctors discovered a small hole in his heart, according to ProFootballTalk.com. The condition, known as patent foramen ovale (PFO), is the same condition that former Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi was diagnosed with after his stroke that shortly followed the Patriots’ most recent Super Bowl win in early 2005.

Since then, Harris has consulted a cardiologist and was cleared to continue working out as normal. His doctors have attempted to abate the fears of Harris’ potential NFL suitors by sending an e-mail to all 32 teams, giving him a clean bill of health. After NFL doctors asked him not to work out at the combine, Harris was a full participant in drills during USC’s pro day on March 7, taking part in positional drills and posting a time of 5.10 seconds in the 40-yard dash.

According to the Orange Country Register, Harris has also been diagnosed with sleep apnea, a sickle-cell trait and exercise-induced asthma, which could be contributing factors to his fatigue issues and inconsistency.

Related articles:

Orange County Register: Utes beware: Even triple-teams can’t stop USC’s Harris

ESPN Los Angeles: Ex-USC DT OK after heart issue

ESPN: Just call him ‘Juicy’

Video:

Here’s a highlight package of Harris uploaded by FoxSports.

Read More: 2012 NFL Draft, 2012 Potential Patriots, Dajohn Harris,
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