We will be collecting reactions from around the league regarding the New England Patriots’ selection of Arizona State WR N’Keal Harry. This post will be updated as more reactions are shared.
N’Keal Harry’s reaction to getting drafted by the Patriots
The moment N’Keal Harry became a Patriot: pic.twitter.com/ZYcKDg2u8S— Pats Pulpit (@patspulpit) April 26, 2019
Much like Oliver to the Bills, tonight was when some of these dreams had to die. Darn the AFC East. In all reality Harry steps into one of the perfect situations for his skillset. Josh McDaniels will help him avoid press jams and put him in favorable situations to make the most of his incredible YAC ability. Tom Brady will deliver passes that let him Moss people.
Harry is a big, physical receiver who dominates at the catch point and is dynamic after the catch. The former Sun Devil isn’t super explosive or twitched up in the short area, but he understands leverage and uses his big frame and strong hands to beat smaller defenders and reel in contested passes. Paired up with a quarterback like Tom Brady, who throws with pinpoint accuracy and anticipation, Harry won’t need to separate early in his routes—he just needs to create space late to go up and reel in the pass. Harry likely couldn’t have found a better landing spot. New England desperately needs pass-catchers, and Harry is a solid value here.
When Rob Gronkowski had to move outside in the playoffs this past season, it was pretty clear that New England needed a reliable big receiver to win downfield. Harry should meet that need quite well.
Harry often played inside at Arizona State, but he does not at all fit the profile of a Patriots slot receiver and will almost certainly take most of his snaps outside. He’s a big target who can win on 50/50 balls, be it downfield or especially on in-breaking routes. His most likely role will be that of an X-receiver, which, it’s worth noting, is where the suspended Josh Gordon plays. By picking Harry, the Patriots not only avoid having to depend on Gordon (anything the ex-Brown provides moving forward would just be bonus), they also fill a notable area of need.
NFL Comparison: Allen Robinson
Harry is a fine route-runner and nasty blocker who works the middle of the field well, catches the ball in tight spots, outmuscles his defender for contested grabs and finds ways to gain yards after contact. He could become Anquan Boldin if he finds the speed and quickness to match his technique and tenacity in the NFL.
It’s been a while since the Patriots selected a wide receiver early in the draft, probably because selecting wide receivers early in the draft (Chad Jackson, Aaron Dobson) was the one thing the franchise was truly terrible at doing. But the Patriots typically whiffed by reaching for speed guys who didn’t really fit their system.
Harry is not that kind of receiver. He’ll gobble up catches as an underneath possession receiver who adds a red-zone dimension because of his contested-catch capability. That’s precisely the sort of receiver that Tom Brady turns into a star.
The Patriots had a ton of great options at No. 32. And of course they did. They’re the Patriots and things aren’t fair. New England had their choice of wide receivers like Harry, D.K. Metcalf or Hakeem Butler. A cornerback like Byron Murphy of Washington would’ve been fine. Harry gives the Patriots a physical presence at wide receiver who will pull down difficult passes.
I watched every one of his games and believe me it pains me to give this a ‘C+,’ but I just think there were better options. One thing when you look at the Patriots is they don’t play fast outside, they needed to get faster. Maybe they expect Josh Gordon to come back at some point, but, for me I would have taken Parris Campbell or one of those guys, a faster, more athletic receiver. I don’t love this pick.
The Patriots haven’t had a lot of success drafting receivers, and I’m not sure that’s going to change with this pick. Let’s start with the good: N’Keal Harry is an absolute monster at the catch point and he can make some things happen with the ball in his hands. Now the bad: He can’t get open, so Tom Brady is going to have to put a lot of faith in him if Harry is going to get a ton of targets. There were better players on the board.
With the retirement of Rob Gronkowski and the uncertainty surrounding Josh Gordon, the Patriots needed to get stronger at the receiver position – and that’s what they’ve done here. A threat from the slot, the addition of Harry will give Tom Brady an added weapon in the passing game as the team looks to secure a seventh Super Bowl title.
Harry’s overall grade of 83.7 was good for 12th among receivers in the class.
He also earned the ninth-best receiving grade among wideouts.
He averaged 3.07 yards per route run from the slot – the seventh-best mark in the class.
He hauled in 17 contested catches on the year, which tied for the second-most among players at the position.
Beat Writer Reactions
Didn't see many mock drafts with Harry to the Patriots, but Belichick stuck to the script on this one. Patriots had a big need at WR, and he filled it. No guards or defensive tackles or left-footed punters— Ben Volin (@BenVolin) April 26, 2019
I like the N'Keal Harry pick. Fills the team's biggest need, and he has some special traits in his ability to make contested catches and pick up yards after the catch.— Doug Kyed (@DougKyed) April 26, 2019
Harry is a good pick for this team. I think he fits the fabric of what the offense is right now. Big, physical guy who can make contested catches and be thrown open. As far as needs, the Pats could use a TE, but Harry helps the overall picture (assuming he picks it up).— Nick Underhill (@nick_underhill) April 26, 2019