2019 NFL Draft: Patriots select Alabama RB Damien Harris with 87th pick

2019 NFL Draft: Patriots select Alabama RB Damien Harris with 87th pick

With the 87th pick of the 2019 NFL Draft, the New England Patriots select running back Damien Harris out of Alabama,

With the Crimson Tide in 2018, Harris tallied 876 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. The 5-foot-11, 215-pounder also contributed 204 receiving yards.

Harris joins a running back depth chart that also consists of Sony Michael, James White, Rex Burkhead, and Brandon Bolden.

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Raiders' Derek Carr knows Tom Brady represents a threat in free agency

Raiders' Derek Carr knows Tom Brady represents a threat in free agency

Derek Carr wins!

On Wednesday, the Las Vegas (it’s official now) Raiders quarterback became the first quarterback to get publicly tender about Tom Brady.

Brady’s much-discussed confab with Raiders owner Mark Davis at the McGregor-Cerrone fight last weekend and subsequent spitballing about Brady as a Raider had Carr sounding huffing with indignation.

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"I mean, there was a lot of quarterbacks at that fight," Carr said to ESPN. "And there was a lot of football players at that fight that are free agents. And it's like, every time, with my job, it's always a story. No matter what. And knowing some people that were around, I even know what the conversation was [between Davis and Brady], and it's like, 'C'mon, man, when's it going to end?'"

Brady’s first foray into free agency creeps closer. There are no concrete indications yet from the Patriots that they will keep him off the market. Brady’s signaled he’s down for whatever.

Almost every team can and will be considered a landing spot for the 43-year-old legend. And that means more quarterbacks will — like Carr — kick against the prick of insecurity that comes with hearing Brady mentioned as an option.

Some may want a verbal commitment ring. Some teams might offer up a vow of fidelity all on their own to protect the fragile, eggshell mind of their still-developing quarterback.

That’s what Buffalo GM Brandon Beane did last month when Tim Graham of The Athletic asked about Brady as a Bill. Beane gingerly praised, sidestepped, avoided all appearance of tampering then added, “I don’t think he wants to be a backup.”

That was no off-handed knock at Brady. It was Beane protecting his third-year quarterback Josh Allen from feeling threatened.

It’s going to be fascinating to find out what Brady’s market really looks like. For example, there’s no debate he’d be better than Allen in 2020. Anyone who witnessed Allen’s scatterbrained effort to “win” that playoff game in Houston would realize that.

But what about 2021 or 2022 when Brady is 44 and 45? What about the investment made so far by the Bills and their coaching staff, not to mention the draft pick spent?  Does it do a team like Buffalo — based in decidedly non-cosmopolitan Western New York — any good to make an overture to Brady if it has no shot at landing him given it could leave Allen shaken?

Dynamics similar to Buffalo exist with the Giants, Jets, Ravens, Browns, Cardinals, Bears, Eagles, Redskins, and Rams. All those teams have a first-round quarterback who's never won a playoff game.

Is it wise for the Redskins and Giants to tiptoe around the feelings of Dwayne Haskins and Daniel Jones or pursue a couple of years of Brady and all that comes with him in terms of marketing, ticket sales and overwhelming coverage?

Leave Brady and his preferences out of it for a moment. If you own a team, don’t you want your GM active and conversant on every player in the league, especially one as iconic and talented as Brady?

I mean, if Brady signs with the Bengals and Jacksonville GM Dave Caldwell never even made a call to Brady’s agent Don Yee, Caldwell should start packing his bags.

An explanation from Caldwell that he didn’t want to undercut Gardner Minshew wouldn’t really fly.

Brady’s looming availability is a case study for prospective owners, coaches and GMs in determining "what’s best for the football team." Football-wise. Business-wise. Relative to the salary cap. Relative to sales and marketing. For the locker room. For the community.

And especially for the guy who’s in place at the position that Brady’s played better than anyone who’s ever lived.

“(You’d think) everyone would be like, 'Yes, we're going the right way. Everything's getting better ... '" lamented Carr. “You would think that that would be the story. But that's not how it works. And I understand that now," Carr said.

"Especially when people are seen with certain people. It's like, 'Oh, gosh. Well, I was at dinner with [Davis] last night. Does that count for anything?' Golly. It's just funny. But I'm used to it now. But I'll say it this way: I look forward to taking the first snap in that stadium, and I look forward to taking every snap from here on out — until I'm done."

So mark Derek Carr down as the first one to lift his leg and pee on his territory relative to Tom Brady. Who’s next? Teams can't make direct contact with Brady until March 16.

How many will feel compelled to say they don't want the GOAT?

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NFL rumors: Patriots scouts 'gushed' over this wide receiver at Senior Bowl

NFL rumors: Patriots scouts 'gushed' over this wide receiver at Senior Bowl

It's no secret the New England Patriots need to upgrade their talent and depth at wide receiver before the 2020 NFL season.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady didn't have enough playmakers at the position to help lead the defending champs back to the Super Bowl this past season. Injuries played a part in that, but overall, Patriots wide receivers didn't produce enough.

The good news for the Patriots is they likely will have 12 picks (including compensatory selections) in the 2020 NFL Draft, and this year's class is absolutely loaded at wide receiver.

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The Patriots reportedly found at least one wide receiver they liked at the Senior Bowl this week in Alabama. Tony Pauline of Pro Football Network witnessed Patriots scouts "gushing" over SMU star James Proche.

Keep this in the back of your mind: New England Patriots scouts were gushing over James Proche during today’s practice – I heard it firsthand. This doesn’t mean they are automatically drafting Proche, but he fits the bill for the type of receiver they love and have great success with.

Proche played four seasons at SMU. He caught 93 passes for 1,199 yards with 12 touchdowns as a junior in 2018, and then tallied 111 receptions for 1,225 yards and 15 touchdowns as a senior this past season. He's listed at 6-foot and 193 pounds.

Here's some footage of Proche at this week's Senior Bowl practices, per Connor Brown of SB Nation:

The Patriots selected Arizona State wideout N'Keal Harry in the first round (32nd overall) of last year's draft. Harry was the first wide receiver drafted by Bill Belichick in the first round since he took over as Patriots head coach in 2000. Harry showed flashes of first-round talent, but injury derailed much of his rookie season. It's still way too early to give up on Harry, but 2020 is no doubt an important year for him.

The Pats would be wise to bring in a veteran wide receiver via free agency or the trade market, but it absolutely makes sense to also draft one or two players at the position given the quality of this year's class.

Curran: Can Patriots re-tool like they did a decade ago?