New England Patriots: Could Former Rutgers WR Mark Harrison Be A Sleeper In 2013?

By Will Gellman

After the New England Patriots lost Wes Welker, many Patriots’ fans were discouraged about where the offense was headed in 2013. These feelings were made even worse when it was announced that TE Aaron Hernandez had been released and charged with first-degree murder, among other things. Immediately, reporters were abuzz about who would pick up the slack for these pass catchers.

Everyone assumed that guys like Danny Amendola, Aaron DobsonJosh BoyceJake Ballard and even the team’s running game, would step up to fill the void. One guy that nobody has talked about who could be in the mix to contribute is WR Mark Harrison.

Harrison is a big, fast receiver who is a great blocker and possesses a great deal of elusiveness. At 6-foot-3, 235 pounds and having run a 4.46 40-yard dash at the NFL Scouting Combine, he is a physical freak who could give opposing defenses fits in the NFL.

One knock on Harrison has been his inconsistent production while at Rutgers. In his first season at Rutgers in 2009, Harrison caught only five passes for 83 yards, good for a 16.6 yard per catch average. It wasn’t until his sophomore season in 2010 that he would break out, putting up very impressive numbers.

That year he caught 44 passes for 829 yards and nine TDs. He also averaged a staggering 18.8 yards per catch that year. In his third year, he caught only 14 passes. However, in his fourth year in 2012, he returned to his 2010 form, catching 44 passes for 583 yards and six TDs. He averaged 13.3 yards per catch that season.

The impressive thing about the stats in his second and fourth years, besides the actual numbers, is that he put them up with mediocre quarterback play at Rutgers. During his tenure there, Harrison caught passes from three different quarterbacks. Those quarterbacks consisted of Tom SavageChas Dodd and Gary Nova. This list of signal callers all played very poorly throughout their college careers and they clearly have nowhere near the amount of skill that Tom Brady possesses.

If Harrison can make the roster, and if he can earn Brady’s trust, he could be a legitimate deep threat for this team now and in the future, especially with a legend like Brady throwing him the football.

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