N'Keal Harry to the Patriots: A Great Landing Spot for a Great Prospect
This year's wide receiver class is loaded.
Oddsmakers had the over on "2.5 wide receivers drafted in Round 1" as a big -148 favorite before the draft.
That didn't end up hitting, with only two selected, but it's still telling that Arizona State's N'Keal Harry was one of those two.
The class has physical freaks like DK Metcalf, burners like Parris Campbell, explosive but undersized playmakers like Marquise Brown (the first wideout off the board), and dominant producers like Hakeem Butler.
Then there's N'Keal Harry, who's a bit of everything.
How Harry Stacks Up
Harry's a big receiver -- tall but not towering at 6'2" -- and in the 95th percentile in weight for a wideout prospect (per MockDraftable) at 228 pounds. Harry also sits in the top third in both wingspan and arm length and just misses that cut-off with a 61st percentile hand size.
His 4.53-second 40-yard dash time is slightly below average for the position, but when you factor in his height and weight, as PlayerProfiler.com does for their Speed Score metric, that time becomes impressive, and he stacks up in the 90th percentile in Speed Score, while also sitting 78th percentile in their Burst Score metric.
He doesn't look like a raw player that's going to need time to develop his physical gifts into production. His 43.9% dominator rating was in the 88th percentile, and per our own JJ Zachariason's research, he produced like a stud this year.
Harry also has the benefit of being a fairly young prospect, and he won't even be 22 years old at the start of the season. He started producing incredibly young, catching 58 passes for 659 yards an 5 touchdowns and adding 2 rushing scores as a freshman, opening that season at only 18 years old.
He may not stand out as the draft's top prospect in any one area, but he checks just about every box, earning a very favorable pro comparison to Allen Robinson in PlayerProfiler's model. Robinson, in case his recent injuries made you forget, tallied 383 targets over his first three NFL seasons -- the 16th-highest mark ever recorded by a player through three seasons.
Obviously we can't make a 1-to-1 comparison just based on Harry's measurables, and even the most exciting prospects carry the risk of fizzling out in the NFL. But Harry stacks up so solidly in so many areas that he's about as solid a bet as you're going to find.
The Ideal Landing Spot?
If you think Harry is exciting as a prospect, you've got to be elated about this landing spot.
Between Gronk, Josh Gordon, Chris Hogan and Cordarrelle Patterson, the Patriots have lost players accounting for a massive 40.1% of their targets from last season. Even if you think some of that work funnels back to tight end with Austin Seferian-Jenkins in town, just the wideouts alone vacate 138 targets.
That means the Patriots, a team that ranked fifth in numberFire's Adjusted Passing Net expected Points (NEP) per play metric in 2018, first in 201, and second in 2016, have a glaring hole at wide receiver.
Spending first-round draft capital to fill that void -- something the Patriots have never done in the Bill Belichick era -- is a pretty good indicator that they like Harry to fill that void. We saw it last year with Sony Michel -- Bill Belichick isn't spending big on a skill-position player he doesn't intend to use.
numberFire's editor-in-chief JJ Zachariason's initial projections have Harry going for 100.0 targets, 63.0 receptions, 734.8 yards, and 5.5 touchdowns. Expect N'Keal Harry to make a splash in his first pro season.