New England Patriots receiver N’Keal Harry finally seems to be proving why he was selected in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft.
Harry struggled mightily during his first two seasons with the Patriots (45 catches, four touchdowns in two seasons). However, following a public trade request from his agent, Harry has entered Patriots training camp and put together a much more respectable showing.
Harry, 23, has been recognized as a standout on a multiple occasions for much of training camp
Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, for one, doesn’t seem surprised the 6-foot-4, 225-pound wideout has impressed to this point.
“I’ve always had the confidence in Doughboy (Harry) to be what he is. He’s still not scratching the surface,” Newton said during a video conference Thursday, per the team. “He’s believing in it and you guys are seeing it, and it’s good for his confidence. But nevertheless he’s taking the initiative and he’s more comfortable.”
Harry was forced to pick up the Patriots offense in short order during Tom Brady’s final season in New England. He played just seven games in 2019 after a stint on injured reserve and his production — 12 catches, 105 yards, two touchdowns — certainly didn’t measure up with other receivers in what was then a talented rookie class.
Harry returned for his sophomore campaign in 2020 and, again, left a lot to be desired. He was overshadowed by undrafted receiver Jakobi Meyers, who ultimately became the team’s most productive wideout during an underwhelming 7-9 season. New England’s lack of in-person practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t help either. Harry finished the season with 33 catches for 309 yards and two touchdowns in 14 games (nine starts).
Save for an eight-catch, 72-yard performance against the Seattle Seahawks during Week 2, Harry frequently seemed overmatched by both the playbook and schemes just as much as the defenses he was going up against.
Newton, though, believes Harry has become more comfortable with the offense entering his third season. And the signal-caller established the connection between said comfortability and a better performance two weeks into training camp.
“I think before the play is even called he understands the personnel groupings, he understands what Josh (McDaniels) is trying to do to him and for him and with him. And I think that’s important,” Newton said. “Once he understands that piece that’s when the game can kind of slow down for him and it just becomes running a great route and catching the football.”
Harry shared last week that he was happy with his start to camp, as well. He also expressed that he is “very OK” being a Patriot despite the trade request.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick acknowledged how he and Harry had a talk regarding said trade request and have a “good relationship.”