In the days leading up to the NFL draft, ESPNBoston.com will identify players who project as solid fits for the Patriots:
Player: Brandon Harris
Listed height/weight: 5-foot-9 1/2, 191 pounds
Scouts Inc. rank: No. 5 at cornerback (scouting report)
Draft projection: Late first round/early second round
Why he’s on our list: Considered mentally tough and the son of a coach, he is described by the Pro Football Weekly draft preview as smart, passionate about football and someone who works at his craft.
Key stat: Enters the draft after his junior season; played in all 39 games in his time at Miami.
Workout stat: Timed at 4.44 in the 40-yard dash.
Steve Muench of Scouts Inc.: “Harris has the blend of instincts, quickness and feet that teams covet at cornerback, but there are two reasons he didn't receive a first-round grade from us. The first is that he's a shade taller than 5-foot-9, which means he has just adequate size and it raises concerns about his ability to match up against bigger receivers. The second reason is he doesn't project as a playmaker. He picked off just four passes in three years at Miami and he has small hands (8.5 inches). Todd McShay has Harris going to the Ravens at No. 26 in his latest mock, but he notes that Colorado CB Jimmy Smith is the better overall prospect. I agree with that analysis. However, there are red flags when it comes to Smith while Harris has excellent intangibles. The buzz is picking up around Smith, as colleague Kevin Weidl pointed out earlier this week. It now looks like Smith will come off the board before Harris, which means Harris slides. He's an all-right value at 28, but I don't think he's the first option because there are likely to be better values at positions of greater need. New England would do better to press its luck and see if he's there with the first pick in the second round. If they do draft him, he can push 2009 second-round pick Darius Butler for playing time. That competition could be good for Butler, who hasn't played as well as desired."