New England Patriots

South Carolina Gamecocks running back Kevin Harris (20) avoids a tackle from North Carolina Tar Heels defensive back Tony Grimes (20)during the DukeÕs Mayo Bowl at Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte on Thursday, December 30, 2021. (Syndication: The Greenville News)

We’ve got our second ‘double-up’ by the Patriots in the 2022 NFL Draft. With their first of three scheduled sixth-round selections, the Patriots took South Carolina running back Kevin Harris 183rd overall.

Harris is the second running back taken by the Patriots in this draft. They previously selected South Dakota State’s Pierre Strong Jr. with the 127th pick.

2020 was a breakout year for Harris, who rushed for an SEC-leading 1,138 yards and 21 touchdowns in 10 games while averaging 6.2 yards per carry in his first season as a starter. He added another 21 receptions for 159 yards and a score through the air, on his way to being named First Team All-SEC. In 2021 he took a bit of a step back as he worked through a back injury.

At 5-foot-10, 221 pounds Harris is a punishing runner who doesn’t mind giving hits as much as he gets hit. He’s surprisingly fast for his size as well, and doesn’t lose much speed through contact. Perhaps the trait the Patriots are most interested in though is his ball security – he had just one fumble on 358 career carries in college.

In New England, Harris will likely compete for a role as an early down back. The Patriots have an established duo at the top of that depth chart in Damien Harris and 2021 fourth-round pick Rhamondre Stevenson. Damien Harris is in a contract year, so Kevin Harris could offer depth in the long-term as well as short term.

The Patriots still have two more picks in the sixth round. They’re scheduled to be on the clock at 200 and 210.

PHOTOS: Patriots sixth-round pick Kevin Harris

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