When they drafted N’Keal Harry 32nd overall, the New England Patriots added a high-upside pass catcher to provide physicality and playmaking ability on the perimeter — at least that is the ideal outcome of the world champions’ first-round investment. And while it remains to be seen whether or not Harry actually develops that way, oddsmakers appear to be at last somewhat confident in his abilities to become a productive wide receiver.
According to recent odds published by BetOnline.ag, Harry is tied for eighth among offensive rookies when it comes to the chances of being named the best among them at the conclusion of the 2019 season. At 16/1, the Arizona State product trails players such as the first overall selection, quarterback Kyler Murray (2.25/1), or the premier tight end to enter the draft, new Detroit Lion T.J. Hockenson (12/1).
New England’s offensive players winning rookie of the year honors is a rare occurrence, however. Should Harry take home the trophy at the season’s end, he would become just the fourth Patriot to be named the top offensive rookie in the NFL — and the first since the 1995 season: John Stephens won in 1988, Leonard Russell in 1991, and Curtis Martin four years later. All three players were, of course, running backs.
That being said, Harry does not need to be in the conversation for the award all year long to have a positive impact on New England’s offense: with one of the league’s better running games and Julian Edelman still one of the most reliable wideouts in all of football, the Patriots’ first-rounder simply needs to provide a viable alternative target. If he can do that and adequately fill the number two role held by Chris Hogan at the end of the 2018 season, he would have been worth the investment — even without being named rookie of the year.