After bursting out of the gate to start the season, the New England Patriots have hit an extremely rough patch during the home stretch. While the Patriots’ current record of 10-3 still leads the AFC East, they have lost to every other AFC division leader. The 11-2 Baltimore Ravens lead the AFC North, the 9-4 Kansas City Chiefs lead the AFC West, and the 8-5 Houston Texans lead the AFC South. Chances are, the Patriots will face at least one of these teams in the playoffs. In order for the Patriots to find their offense and beat other top AFC contenders, the team needs to incorporate more of rookie receiver, N’Keal Harry.
New England Patriots Rookie N’Keal Harry Provides a Spark
Injury and growing pains caused 2019’s 32nd overall pick to have an underwhelming start to his NFL career. However, with a height of 6-4 and a chiseled 225-pound frame, Harry is a freak athlete. Last spring at the NFL’s annual combine, Harry posted a 4.53 40-yard dash and 27 bench press repetitions. Harry’s 27 bench press repetitions tied him with Seattle Seahawks rookie D.K. Metcalf for the most by a wide receiver. For comparison, tight end Rob Gronkowski posted 23 bench press repetitions during his 2010 combine workout. Harry’s athleticism is undisputed and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels needs to get creative with incorporating the first-round pick into his offense.
On a conference call earlier this week, McDaniels acknowledged that he needed to do a better job of incorporating Harry. The Arizona State University product flashed his big-play ability during his college career and despite early struggles, we have seen glimpses of Harry’s potential. The most recent demonstration of that potential came last Sunday during the Patriots loss to the Chiefs. Early in the fourth quarter, New England put Harry in motion where he caught a quick pass in the flat. Harry proceeded to break three tackles then dove for the pylon. While the play should have resulted in a touchdown, the referees incorrectly marked Harry out of bounds. Nonetheless, Harry showed off his physical talent as a freight train that refused to be stopped.
Harry is still very raw and clearly is not yet a traditional wide receiver. However, his talent desperately needs to be featured in order to provide a spark within this struggling Patriots offense. McDaniels needs to utilize Harry on more screens, flat routes, jet sweeps, and should even consider putting the rookie in the backfield, much like the team did last season with Cordarrelle Patterson.
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