N’Keal Harry is ready for his moment.
He came to Arizona State as one of the most highly sought after recruits in the country and made an immediate impact, snagging 58 receptions for 659 yards and five touchdowns his first season. Before it was all said and done, he hauled in 213 receptions for 2889 yards and 22 touchdowns.
When you turn on Harry’s tape, the first thing that jumps out at you is how physical he is. While he may lack the kind of eye-popping 40 time someone like D.K. Metcalf has, the Sun Devil will do what needs to be done to catch the football and create yards after the catch. Corners are little more than a minor nuisance that need to be punished on his way to the end zone.
-He’s going to generate a lot of yards after the catch, takes a real tackle to bring him down.
-Very good in contested catch situations.
-Back shoulder bomb extraordinaire.
-Refined route runner.
-Straight line speed is good, not great.
-Needs to tighten his release. Can take too long here.
What I’ve read/heard
”All this talk about (his lack of) separation is overdone. In the league, nobody gets that much separation anyway. You have to know how to use your body and route leverage and you need strong hands. From what I’ve seen of him, he does all that stuff well.” -- Wide receivers coach with AFC team
N’Keal Harry projects favorably as a prototypical X-receiver in the NFL. Harry’s size, contested catch ability and skills defeating press coverage combine to offer an impressive package of traits, especially when considering the versatility Harry brings to an offense as a RAC receiver, deep threat and as a red-zone target. Harry may require some time to further develop but he has dominant traits.
I’d draft Harry before any other receiver this year. I know everybody has their own preferences when it comes to different players, but Harry is my favorite of the three receivers I’ve broken down so far.
He checks every box for a big-time NFL receiver for me, and the only even faintly negative thing I could say about him is he needs to work on having a quicker release at times. In just about every other way he is an elite wide receiver prospect, and his releases are an easy fix.
While he isn’t the burner that Metcalf is, I have no doubt Harry is more than fast enough to thrive in the NFL. He has the potential to be one of those guys who catches 100+ balls a year with his skillset, but he should also be a huge deep ball and red zone threat, as well.
2. N’KEAL HARRY, WR, ARIZONA STATE
Sorry, but after Laquon Treadwell, Josh Doctson, DeVante Parker, Dorial Green-Beckham, Devin Funchess, Kelvin Benjamin and Jaelen Strong, I’m very wary of big-bodied receivers with either average athleticism or an unpolished route tree. Harry has unbelievable size, strength and some highlight-reel catches, but the man just does not separate well, nor is he a particularly well-rounded route runner. Talking to me about Harry in the mid-day 2 range of the draft? Sure. But unless he tests much better than I expect and runs Mike Williams-fast (4.54), I’ll continue to be puzzled by the Round 1 buzz he receives.
2. N’KEAL HARRY, ARIZONA STATE
My friends, you are more than welcome to overthink Arizona State’s N’Keal Harry if you’d like. Plenty of people do. COULDN’T BE ME, THOUGH. Harry has the right blend of open field slipperiness, hands, physical strength and ball skills to give me confidence that his play will translate to the next level, even if he isn’t the most polished route runner and he’s going to have to continue to hone his craft in that regard. Harry wins in contested situations, which helps to soften the prospect of him having bodies on his hip at the next level (he Moss’d Michigan State’s Justin Layne this season in that exact scenario, by the way). He won’t be for everyone and that’s fine. He is for me. Round Grade: First Round
Reception Perception: N’Keal Harry is a Strong Prospect Who Just Needs the Right Role to Thrive - The Fantasy Footballers Podcast
Once one of the top outside receivers in the game sporting a 6-foot-3, 218-pound frame, Larry Fitzgerald has undergone a role change in the latter stage of his career. When Bruce Arians arrived in Arizona, he convinced the veteran receiver that a move to a big slot/flanker hybrid role would extend his career as his play speed and ability to separate waned. In each of the last two seasons charted for Reception Perception, Fitzgerald took over 75 percent of his charted snaps off the line of scrimmage while lining up in the slot on over 50 percent. That deployment help Fitzgerald face press coverage on fewer routes than many of his peers.
Using N’Keal Harry in this fashion would allow for his strengths as a route runner against zone coverage and playmaker in the open field to shine through. While there are real concerns about Harry’s film that might not make him a fit as an outside X-receiver, harping on those issues too much without considering the upside he holds in a different role would be foolish. His profile is too clean and his strengths too tantalizing.
Why he fits
He profiles as a modern Z-receiver in today’s NFL, equally capable of tearing up the slot as he is outside. Depending on how the Broncos view DaeSean Hamilton, the Z-receiver is the biggest long term need for the receiving corps. The Sun Devil’s got the tools to be a standout blocker. Chances are he will make corners’ lives hell if they want to play the run.
Harry may need time to adjust to NFL speed, but his route running is already advanced and would compliment the current receiving corps beautifully. He is a threat to every level of the field and will need to be accounted for, which should free up Courtland Sutton to play to his strengths. Swings, slants, fades, hitches... he’s won on all of it and more. His massive catch radius and physicality jump off the tape. If he plays up to his talent he has elite number 1 potential.
Why he doesn’t
Harry is fast enough, but burner isn’t really the word that comes to mind. He will need to become more consistent and decrease the number of concentration drops. There are times on tape that he takes far too long to get out of his stance and into the route. He beat press coverage in college but will have to adjust to NFL speed across from him.
When you stop and consider that one of the biggest strengths of Courtland Sutton’s game is the vertical threat he creates, it’s insane to think about what Harry could do in the same receiving corps. I’m well aware of Broncos history, so it’s not merely hyperbole when I say that the two could potentially blossom into one of the most dynamic receiving duos in franchise history.