In his last six meaningful games, N’Keal Harry caught 39 total passes and surpassed 90 receiving yards five times.
Sure, those games came while he was a member of the Arizona State Sun Devils. But Herm Edwards believes Harry can bring similar production to the New England Patriots’ offense.
Edwards, who coached Harry during the wide receiver’s final season at ASU, raved about the Patriots rookie’s abilities Tuesday during an appearance on WEEI’s “Greg Hill Show.”
“He’s got great football instincts,” Edwards said. “And then the thing I think Tom (Brady) and the guys know about him is, if you get him in the 1-on-1 situations, you can throw the ball to him and trust that he’ll come down with it. (He’s) very competitive for the football, and the game’s not too big for him. The lights won’t be too big for N’Keal when he goes on the field. It’s just a matter of how they’re going to use him.”
It remains to be seen how the Patriots will utilize Harry, who was activated off injured reserve two weeks ago but has yet to make his regular-season NFL debut.
His 6-foot-4, 225-pound frame and rare contested-catch ability seemingly make him a natural fit for Josh Gordon’s old “X” receiver spot — Edwards compared Harry to Gordon and also has likened his skill set to that of former All-Pro Dez Bryant in the past — but Edwards suggested lining him up in the slot, where he occasionally played for ASU.
“I think he can be an inside guy, because he’s big, and he’s physical,” Edwards said on WEEI. “He’s a good runner with the ball in his hands. He’s a guy that you throw a screen out to — a bubble screen. You run him inside on slants, inside routes where he can get a matchup and break out, because he’s a powerful runner now. He’s a big man. When he gets going, he can run.”
Edwards also said Harry, who tore up the Pac-12 with 73 receptions for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns in 2018, can be a valuable red-zone weapon for the Patriots. That’s been an area of concern for New England, which has found the end zone on just 50 percent of its trips inside the 20-yard line this season.
“Big guy, can catch the ball in a crowd,” the coach said. “Very strong hands. He can help them in the red zone, there’s no doubt about that.”
Thumbnail photo via Mark J. Rebilas/USA TODAY Sports Images