The Patriots’ 2013 draft class has been heralded as one of the best in NFL history, and it was a team effort. Duron Harmon’s experience with Bill Belichick is what makes his story great because he can share insights on how to make teams better through drafting the right players at the right time.
When everything is said and done, how soon can an NFL club and its players evaluate how successful a rookie class can — and will — be? In the weeks, months, and years after the 2022 NFL Draft, all 32 clubs, including the New England Patriots, will have to answer this issue.
Duron Harmon, then a Patriots safety, didn’t take long to understand he and his fellow 2013 draftees had the potential to be a special bunch over a decade ago.
In 2013, the Patriots drafted seven players, three of whom — Harmon, cornerback Logan Ryan, and linebacker Steve Beauharnais — were teammates at Rutgers. The Patriots also selected Jamie Collins, a dynamic mid-major linebacker who excelled at Southern Miss, with their first overall pick (52nd overall).
Harmon commented on a trio — Harmon, Ryan, and Collins — who won a combined six rings in New England in a recent interview with Sportscasting. As rookies, all three saw plenty of action, with Collins and Ryan each starting eight and seven games, respectively.
Harmon, who had two interceptions in 15 games and three starts in 2013, said, “Not only were we on the field, but we had some effective moments.” “We had rookie moments as well, when we made errors and were able to learn from them to aid us later.”
Duron Harmon (L) and Devin McCourty of the New England Patriots celebrate Harmon’s interception in November 2013 | Jim Davis/The Boston Globe via Getty Images
The pivotal moment, according to Harmon, occurred during a November 2013 matchup against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos. In a game in which the Patriots were behind 24-0 at halftime, all three rookies began. Despite the fact that East Coast spectators started to close their eyes or write the Sunday Night Football game off as a blowout, the Patriots still had 30 minutes to make an incredible comeback.
And they achieved just that, thanks in large part to the rookies.
Collins contributed 10 tackles to Harmon’s 11 tackles. Early in the fourth quarter, Ryan intercepted Manning at the Denver 30-yard line, giving the Patriots superb field position. The Patriots, who began as +2.5 underdogs, prevailed 34-31 in overtime when Tom Brady connected with Julian Edelman for the game-winning touchdown.
“At that point, I believe I thought, ‘OK, I think we can be a very decent squad that can have a long career in the NFL,’” Ryan remembered.
All of them have had successful careers. Harmon won three Super Bowls with the Patriots from 2013 to 2019 and is currently with the Raiders in their first season. The 31-year-old is still going strong, having picked off two passes in 17 games with the Atlanta Falcons last season.
Logan Ryan (L) and Duron Harmon were taken by the New England Patriots in the 2013 NFL Draft | Jim Rogash/Getty Images
Ryan, who spent four seasons with the Patriots in the secondary with Harmon, signed a three-year, $30 million deal with the Tennessee Titans in March 2017. Ryan intercepted Brady in his last home game with the Patriots, a Wild-Card Round defeat in January 2020, six years after intercepting Manning. After Brady terminated his 40-day retirement earlier this summer, the cornerback and quarterback are reunited on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Collins, on the other hand, has moved around the league since being dealt in the middle of the 2016 season. He’s played for the Patriots twice, including a 10-game tour last year, but he’s still a free agent as of publishing.
Although everyone rightfully enjoys swooning over the first night of the NFL Draft, don’t overlook what might happen over the next two days. Nearly a decade ago, New England found three significant starters in that bracket, all of whom went on to win championships.
In 2022, will history repeat itself? If that’s the case, the Patriots’ ardent supporters may want to start planning another championship parade.
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