FOXBORO, Mass. — First-round draft pick N’Keal Harry looked the part Thursday on Day 3 of New England Patriots organized team activities.
In his first NFL practice that was open to the media, Harry played a prominent role in New England’s passing attack, receiving 10 targets during 11-on-11 drills — by far the most of any Patriots pass-catcher — and hauling in two of the session’s most impressive receptions.
“I’m just trying to learn everything,” the 21-year-old wide receiver said after practice. “I’m just trying to do my part and do everything I can to help the team win.”
On the first of Harry’s two standout grabs, the former Arizona State star beat fellow 2019 draft pick Joejuan Williams (second round, 45th overall) on a quick slant for a short touchdown from backup quarterback Brian Hoyer. He also beat Williams for another touchdown on a drag route.
Later, Harry elevated over second-year cornerbacks J.C. Jackson and Duke Dawson to bring down a back-shoulder throw from rookie QB Jarrett Stidham. Similar contested catches litter his college highlight reels.
It’s far, far too early to make any grand proclamations about Harry’s Patriots potential, but the early returns are promising.
“Coaches have just been trying to show me different techniques to help me get open, so I’m just trying to apply that every day when I come out here,” Harry said. “… That’s just my job. As a wide receiver, my job is just to get separation, get open and catch the ball. So that’s my main focus every time I step out there on every play I take part in.”
Harry lined up both outside and in the slot and also returned punts in practice, showcasing his versatility.
“I just want to do whatever I can to be successful and to help the team win,” said Harry, who, thanks to the Patriots’ unorthodox rookie numbering system, is wearing No. 50 in spring practice. “Whatever Coach asks of me, I’ll do it, whether that’s on the inside, whether that’s in the slot. If they want to put me in the backfield, it doesn’t matter. I’ll do whatever I need to do.”
“He’s smart,” head coach Bill Belichick added. “And he works hard.”
Listed at 6-foot-2, 225 pounds, Harry is one of the largest players in New England’s revamped receiving corps, but he’s sought guidance from one of the smallest: Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman. And Edelman’s advice already is paying dividends.
“(I’m) just following his lead,” Harry said. “Just seeing the types of things he does, seeing the way he prepares before practice, after practice. Those are going to be the biggest things. He’s helped me a lot so far. …
“I’ve seen myself improve on route-running already within the first three days, so I’m just going to keep listening to him and keep that same approach and that same mindset coming into practice every day.”
Harry, the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft, caught five of the 10 passes thrown his way Thursday. He dropped one, Jackson broke up another, and the other three incompletions came on poor throws.
Hoyer, Stidham and 2018 seventh-round pick Danny Etling split reps at quarterback, with starter Tom Brady choosing to skip the voluntary session. Harry said outside of a few interactions on social media, he has yet to speak with Brady, who is expected to join the team for mandatory minicamp beginning June 4.
Thumbnail photo via Zack Cox/NESN.com