22 drafts in a row — the final 19 of which under Bill Belichick — the New England Patriots did not pick a wide receiver in the first round. Yesterday, this streak came to an end when the team made N’Keal Harry the 32nd overall selection of the draft’s 2019 version. Shortly after becoming the final player to hear his name called on day one, the Arizona State product made the media rounds to speak about his mindset.
“I’m extremely excited. I’m just ecstatic to come in, work hard, constantly improve and just live up to the expectations.” said the 21-year-old in a conference call with New England reporters. Those expectations, of course, are high considering a) his status as a first-round draft selection, b) his outstanding three-year college career, and c) the Patriots’ current group of pass catchers following the retirement of All-World tight end Rob Gronkowski.
However, the rookie sounds confident in his abilities to meet his expectations. “I just want to do my part to help win, whatever that is, whatever that looks like. I just want to come in and be one of those players that coach can rely on no matter what he tells me. That’s what I know is expected of me, and that’s what I’m ready for,” said Harry. “Whatever they need me to do or want me to do, I’ll get on it right away.”
Given his skill set and projected role as a versatile X-receiver in New England’s system, the first thing he might be asked to do is expand his route tree compared to how it looked at ASU. Harry knows, however, that such a decision is not his to be made. “That’s not really up to me too much — it’s all on what the coaches want from me,” he pointed out. “I’m going to come in with the mindset of being very coachable. I’ve always been a very coachable player, just picking up on things very quickly.”
Harry also will have to quickly pick things up with his quarterback — noted perfectionist Tom Brady — as well. Again, however, the rookie appears to be looking forward to the challenge. “Just getting to play with a quarterback like Tom Brady — it really is a blessing. I couldn’t have a better start to my career because I know he is going to make me better, I know he’s going to hold me to a high standard, and I’m ready for that.” he told NFL Network.
What also might help him be ready is his style of play and approach to the game. “I would describe my game as very passionate. I play with a lot of passion,” the 6’2 wideout said during his conference call with the New England media. “Whenever that ball is in the air, I’ll sacrifice anything to go get it and I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win.”
This attitude, Harry knows, has to extend beyond his own demeanor and towards his role on the team. “Anything Coach wants me to do, whether it’s on special teams, offense, anything, I’ll do it just to do my part and to be one piece of the puzzle in helping us win,” he continued. Given New England’s affinity for players that are both versatile and passionate, it is ultimately unsurprising that Harry became the club’s first draft pick this year.
Now all that is left for him to do is turn his words into action and become an impact player for the Patriots. The foundation in terms of attitude and skill set very much seems to be in place for that to happen.