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Rodney Harrison sees safety as draft need for Patriots

Former New England Patriots defensive back Rodney Harrison said he believes coach Bill Belichick needs to add a hard-hitting safety more than anything else in the offseason.

"I really believe, if they could get that physical, hard-hitting safety ... I think that's something they need to look for," Harrison said in a radio interview with the Dennis & Callahan Show in Boston. "Someone like Kam Chancellor, or even not that big of a safety because it's hard to find safeties that big that can still move. But just somebody when you come across the middle you know you're going to get whacked. I think that's something they need to look for."

Harrison, known himself to be one of the game's hardest-hitting safeties during his own playing days, believes that's the Patriots' biggest missing puzzle piece. But the club might not get a chance at one of the draft's top two safety prospects -- Louisville's Calvin Pryor and Alabama's Ha Ha Clinton-Dix -- who are ranked the Nos. 14 and 15 prospects, respectively, in the draft according to NFL Media analyst Daniel Jeremiah. The Patriots hold the No. 29 overall pick, and Jeremiah doesn't have a third safety ranked anywhere in the top 50.

But to Harrison, a top pick might not be necessary.

"That's all part of the personnel department. You have to go out there and get some of these gems," Harrison said. "Troy Aikman talked about it last night, getting a bunch of these guys that are sixth- and seventh-round draft choices. I think that's the skill. You have to continue to find those gems in the draft and be able to get guys like that. There are guys out there. You just have to do a good job of going out there and getting (them)."

So who are some safeties more likely to hear their names called later in the draft? USC's Dion Bailey, LSU's Craig Loston, Vanderbilt's Kenny Ladler and Western Kentucky's Jonathan Dowling could be what Harrison thinks the Patriots should be eyeing.

Follow Chase Goodbread on Twitter @ChaseGoodbread.

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