Wide receiver N’Keal Harry was selected with the 32nd pick of the 2019 NFL Draft. He was the second receiver taken off the board and was arguably a bust from the get-go. Nobody had Harry rated as a first-round talent in comparison to the other receivers taken after him. Except for the New England Patriots evidently. Harry in his rookie year would get hurt in training camp, and wouldn’t appear in-game action until after the bye week against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Arizona State product would be underwhelming the rest of the year. He finished with 12 catches for 105 yards and just 2 touchdowns in seven games.
N’Keal Harry didn’t make a strong first impression on Tom Brady, or Patriots fans in general. He struggled to get open. He struggled to catch the ball. Consequently, it looked like Harry was just another blunder by the great Bill Belichick, who had been building a reputation for being a terrible drafter. In his second season, Harry was even worse. He caught 33 passes for 309 yards and again, just 2 touchdowns through a full season of action. Harry, nicknamed “Doughboy” by Cam Newton, was outshined by 2019 undrafted free agent Jakobi Meyers. Free-agent Damiere Byrd also outshined the former first-round pick. Bill Belichick looks extremely bad as of today with the Harry pick. Let’s take a look at what makes this pick just so terrible.
Harry Was the Worst Receiver on the Board
As we discussed, N’Keal Harry was the second receiver taken in his class. Marquise Brown, who hasn’t been elite himself, was taken at 11 by the Baltimore Ravens. Of course, 2019 was a deep class for the position, so receivers didn’t come flying off the board until the second round. Here’s a list of pass catchers taken immediately after N’Keal Harry:
- Deebo Samuel (Round 2, Pick 36, San Francisco)
- A.J. Brown (Round 2, Pick 51, Tennessee)
- Mecole Hardman (Round 2, Pick 56, Kansas City)
- Parris Campbell (Round 2, Pick 59, Indianapolis)
- Andy Isabella (Round 2, Pick 62, Arizona)
- D.K. Metcalf (Round 2, Pick 64, Seattle)
This is just counting the second-round picks. Never mind the surprises of the later rounds such as Terry McLaurin, Diontae Johnson, Hunter Renfrow, and even Scotty Miller of Tampa Bay. This alone proves my point of just how bad Belichick whiffed on this pick. By the math, Belichick had an 85 percent chance of snagging a good wide receiver. Of course, we know the math wasn’t on Belichick’s side. Undoubtedly this ranks as one of the biggest draft blunders of Belichick’s prestigious career. Besides maybe the selection of Dominque Easley in 2014.
He’s Been Outshined By Cheaper Options
It is certainly shameful that Jakobi Meyers has outplayed N’Keal Harry despite being an undrafted free agent. When you’re a first-round pick, the expectations are deservedly high. He should have been a day one contributor with the position of where he was drafted. Ultimately, Harry has failed to bring any monumental contributions roughly three years into his career. He’s so unreliable, Bill Belichick has brought in cheaper, but better options two years in a row. Last year was Damiere Byrd and Donte Moncrief, this year being Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne.
N’Keal Harry shouldn’t be having camp battles with the likes of Isaiah Zuber, Devin Ross, Marvin Hall, Tre Nixon, and Kristian Wilkerson. But that’s exactly what’s happening in 2021. Harry is being challenged by players with half of his rookie contract’s salary. It’s straight-up embarrassing for both Harry and Belichick. Harry should at worst be a reliable red-zone threat for the team. Instead, he’s what you would expect out of a 4th round receiver with a massive rookie deal.
I appreciate Cam Newton’s faith and confidence in Harry. He displayed it on Brandon Marshall‘s podcast “I AM ATHLETE” saying “He’s young. Give him time.” when discussing the lack of weapons Newton had last season. But I think Newton’s the only one who thinks Harry will get better with time. It is certainly going to take a monumental rebound for Harry to stick with the Patriots past 2021-22. I would imagine the odds of him ending up on the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL catching passes from Dane Evans come 2022 are much higher than him catching passes from Mac Jones in the future in Foxborough.