The Patriots haven’t done well in the draft as a wide receiver under Bill Belichick for a long time. The imminent departure of 2019 first-round pick N’Keal Harry is an extension of that trend.
Belichick is an all-time great coach and has been a personal genius in making decisions in many other positions, especially on defense. But since the beginning of his tenure as coach and general manager, Belichick has failed to hit wide receivers on impact.
Since stealing Julian Edelman as a versatile cog in the seventh round of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Patriots have selected 10 wide receivers in various rounds, Harry being the ninth and highest pick at No. 32 overall. , has been the biggest failure.
Harry, already hard-pressed to make the final roster for the Patriots at their next 2021 training camp, hopes to be traded to revive his career after New England. His agent, Jamal Tooson, broadcast a statement via NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo which included a formal request to change Harry.
“For the past few months, I’ve been working cooperatively with the Patriots behind the scenes to put a plan in place that will allow N’Keal to thrive in New England. Over two seasons, he has 86 goals, which he obviously hasn’t met. with the expectations the Patriots and N’Keal had when they selected a dominant threat on the field that was virtually unstoppable at the point of attack in college, “Tooson wrote.
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“After numerous conversations with the Patriots, I think it is time for a fresh start and best for both parties if N’Keal goes ahead before the start of training camp. That is why I have informed the Patriots today that I am formally requesting a change on behalf of my client. “
Harry’s short time with the Patriots has produced more misfortunes than productive results. In 2019, as a rookie, he missed 9 games with an ankle injury. Last year he had a horrible concussion that cost him 2 more games.
In two regular seasons, Harry has seen just 81 goals in 21 games, catching 45 passes for 414 yards and 4 TDs. Playing in his only playoff game with Tom Brady at QB, Harry caught 2 of 7 goals for 21 yards.
With the additions of free agents Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne and the promise of Jakobi Meyers, Harry is fourth on the depth chart at best. He has a lot of competition for space on the bottom list in the wake of Edelman’s retirement, including Gunner Olszewski and Officer Marvin Hall.
Since the decisive Super Bowl combination of Deion Branch and David Givens was selected for Brady in 2002, there hasn’t been much more than Edelman working as wide receivers in the draft in New England.
Harry is about to join a dubious club since ’09 that includes Bethel Johnson, PK Sam, Chad Jackson, Brandon Tate, Taylor Price, Jeremy Ebert, Aaron Dobson, Josh Boyce, Jeremy Gallon, Malcolm Mitchell, Devin Lucien and Braxton Berrios. Good luck to seventh-round rookie Tre Nixon avoiding common fate.
On the bright side, Belichick signed both Meyers, who may be a key third receiver this season, along with returning young ace Olszweski as undrafted free agents much later in the same class as Harry of ’19. On the “what if” side, the Patriots selected Harry ahead of Deebo Samuel, AJ Brown, DK Metcalf, Diontae Johnson and Terry McLaurin. Oh.
The Patriots are trying to better support their quarterbacks, now Cam Newton and first-round rookie Mac Jones. They expect Agholor and Bourne to go from being valuable players for other teams and Meyers to becoming a more complete target.
They can’t afford to wait for a third-year breakout that is unlikely to come from Harry, at least on their offense. Harry, only 23 years old and once a great playmaker at Arizona State, is too talented in the raw not to see any interest. For the Patriots, he’s the last draft pick to go through the revolving door after failing to fit in well with their demanding scheme.