Analysis

Can N’Keal Harry Revive His Career With Chicago?

Can N’Keal Harry Revive His Career With Chicago?

The New England Patriots and Chicago Bears have agreed to terms on a deal that will send former Patriots first-round pick WR N’Keal Harry to the Bears in exchange for a 2024 7th-round pick.

The Patriots have taken a lot of heat for drafting N’Keal Harry in 2019 over the likes of WRs such as: D.K. Metcalf, Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, Diontae Johnson, Terry McLaurin, and Hunter Renfrow.

What did the Patriots see in N’Keal Harry that intrigued them? The 33rd Team’s own, Brian Friedland discussed the Patriots recent struggles with drafting WRs and pointed out that when drafting Harry, they might have wanted someone to replace the skill set of Rob Gronkowski:

“Somebody who could help to fill the void that would be opening due to tight end Rob Gronkowski’s surprise retirement. With Harry being such a dominant force as a contested catch receiver in the Pac-12, it would not be surprising to think the Patriots thought this would help to keep a lot of the same plays the Patriots would run for Gronkowski while also being able to take some of the pressure off receiver Julian Edelman.”

Former NFL GM Mike Tannenbaum says that it was not a huge surprise to see N’Keal Harry go in the round one of the 2019 draft:

“N’Keal Harry was a talented player coming out, who was not a surprise to see as a first-round pick. Many teams besides the Patriots liked him because of his size and physicality.”

The Patriots plan for N’Keal Harry certainly did not pan out. Harry’s career high in receiving yards in a single season is only 309 yards, and he only has 4 receiving TDs in his 3-year career. In 2021 Harry was seemingly fazed out of the offense completely, and mostly utilized as a blocker.

Tannenbaum says Harry’s play has not translated to the NFL because of his lack of speed:

“He has lacked short area quickness and his ability to separate, which has hurt him. Also, his lack of foot speed makes him a non-contributor on special teams which hurts a backup wide receiver.”

Luckily for Harry, if there was any spot that would give him the opportunity to be featured in an offense, the Bears were likely his best option. The wide receiver room in Chicago is very thin in terms of talent. Darnell Mooney has been a productive player, but outside of him there are very unproven commodities in Byron Pringle, Equanimeous St. Brown, and Velus Jones Jr. (WR, Tennessee)

It will be interesting to see how the Bears utilize Harry in 2022, and whether Harry can turn his career around and aid in the development of Justin Fields as a second year QB.