[dt_divider style=”thick” /]One of the most prolific wide receivers in school history, Arizona State receiver N’Keal Harry (#1) has left his mark in the record books. His career got off to a fast start as he finished with 58 catches, which led all freshman receivers in the nation. That total was also good enough to break former tight end Zach Miller‘s previous freshman record of 56 catches in 2004. Harry followed that up with an impressive sophomore campaign — 82 catches for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns.
He tied Jaelen Strong‘s single season catches record and finished as an All-Pac-12 First Team selection. These records are just a microcosm of the Sun Devils main target. Harry’s journey to the state of Arizona was an interesting one. He spent the early parts of his childhood living with his grandmother in Saint Vincent — a small southern island located in the Caribbean Sea.
At the age of four, he moved to Tempe, Arizona, where he would enroll in Marcos de Niza, and then transferred to Chandler High School. After trying baseball, martial arts, basketball, soccer, and swimming, this is where he would be introduced to football.
— NFL Draft (@NFLDraft) November 26, 2018
Fast forward to his final season as a Sun Devil, he has already has set a new career high in touchdown catches, with nine, and declared for the 2019 NFL Draft. Harry is considered to be a potential first-round selection and arguably the top receiver of the entire class.
Size – At 6-foot-3, 213 pounds, he has a standout frame for an outside receiver. He’s very well put together, having a very muscular and chiseled upper half. This enables his bully mindset at the catch point and when breaking tackles in space.
Yards After the Catch – Being that he’s a big and physical receiver, he understands how to use his large frame to his advantage. His strength also shows up after the catch. The offense is mostly designed to get Harry the ball within 10-12 yards of the line of scrimmage. When running perimeter/tunnel screens or quick routes, his ability to turn those short gains into explosive plays are littered throughout his tape. He’s able to break tackles and pick up yardage after the catch that’s not originally designed within certain plays.
Hands – Outside of when he is in heavy traffic over the middle or when expecting an oncoming collision, Harry rarely traps the ball against his pads or lets the ball get into his body. He possesses very strong hands and routinely snatches the ball out of the air.
Physicality/Playing Through Contact – Arguably Harry’s best attribute is his ability to play through contact from defenders. He’s exceptional at the catch point, where he’s completely comfortable with winning in many ways. He’s shown to be able to out-jump defenders, box them out, and even out-muscle them in order to secure the ball. His “above the rim” playing-style has been evident on many occasions. The Sun Devils were comfortable with throwing go balls up to him in any type of situations no matter where they were on the field. This trait really came in handy in the redzone.
Versatility – What you notice about Harry is that he’s playing multiple positions and fulfilling many roles along the way. He’s served as an outside receiver on both sides of the field and he’s seen some time in the slot. The Sun Devils use him on many quick patterns, double passes, reverses, screens and even in the backfield. He’s been the ultimate weapon in their offense.
Route Running – Harry is not a below average route runner by any stretch of the imagination, but there is plenty of refinement that needs to be done overall. Being that he’s a bigger receiver, his movements will naturally not be as fluid or crisp on deeper routes as smaller players at his position. He’s a technician in the short areas, as he’s shown that he’s able to win there, but the questions come the further down field the routes are run. When he’s offered free releases at the line of scrimmage, he can quickly become a handful for defensive backs. The only true deep routes that he seems to be comfortable running are deep posts and streaks down the sideline.
Gaining Separation – This biggest concern with his game is being able to generate consistent separation against faster defenders. It was evident in his game vs Washington in 2018 where he had his lowest output of the year with only had five catches for 20 yards. Harry really struggled to create separation on routes in the short-to-intermediate areas. The Huskies defenders frequently challenged him and he was unable to shake free. This is the tape that many scouts will look at because of the overall competition that he faced and the fact that their cornerbacks are very similar to what Harry will face at the next level.
Release Plans – Against most of the teams he faced in the Pac-12, teams were reluctant to challenge him at the line because of how dangerous of a weapon he was. As a result of this, Harry rarely had to deal with being prepared when facing press coverage. When he was challenged, you could tell that hand-to-hand combat and having moves to defeat jams were a bit foreign to him. His moves were more trial and error to see what exactly worked throughout games as opposed to having a plan pre-snap and knowingly executing certain moves.
Best Team Fits: Cleveland Browns, Arizona Cardinals, New York Jets, Indianapolis Colts, Buffalo Bills
There’s still many evaluators on the fence about just how good this wide receiver class really is. One thing is for sure, Harry will be in the discussion as one of the best. He has the talent, size, physicality and just enough speed to hear his name called on the first night of the NFL Draft. While there are plenty of questions about his true athleticism and natural ability to separate down the field, his upside is clear. He has the potential to be a WR1 amongst a receiving corps, but the results probably won’t be seen immediately because of his inconsistent route-running. His consistent hands, ability to maximize plays, and physical mentality will allow him to see plenty of success early on though.