Last season, the Los Angeles Rams tapped into the New England Patriots for a positional need — calling on Sony Michel to lift their backfield during a period depth was needed.
The Rams proved they can be champions with a past Patriot. But for the Pats, they proved they had difficulty maximizing the talents of one wideout once comparable to a prized free agent acquisition made by the Super Bowl 56 champs.
First reported by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 12, the Patriots finally traded away disappointing first round pick from the 2019 NFL Draft N’Keal Harry — dealing him to the Chicago Bears in exchange for a future late round pick.
But here’s the irony in this trade: The 6-foot-2, 228-pound Harry is heading to the Windy City in the attempt to help replace the man who signed a blockbuster $45 million deal during the offseason with the Rams in Allen Robinson. And it turns out Harry was once compared to Robinson prior to the NFL Draft. But now, Harry’s departure gets added to one analyst’s lists of “biggest whiff” made by legendary head coach Bill Belichick.
Analyst Rips Belichick for Passing on Notable Wideouts
Josh Schrock of NBC Sports wasn’t mincing words when reacting to the fallout between the Arizona State star and the Pats on Tuesday evening.
Schrock immediately blasted the man responsible for helping lure in the towering wideout, who took Harry No. 32 overall.
“While Belichick’s a legendary head coach, his track record as general manager is spotty. That’s especially true when it comes to wide receivers,” Schrock began before mentioning how Belichick once found “gems” in future Super Bowl Most Valuable Players Julian Edelman and Deion Branch.
However, that was the short list written by Schrock. The long list are the draft blunders Belichick and the Pats have made at WR.
“His misses have included Bethel Johnson (Round 2, 2003), Chad Jackson (Round 2, 2006), Brandon Tate (Round 3, 2009), Aaron Dobson (Round 2, 2013), and N’Keal Harry (Round 1, 2019),” Schrock wrote.
And out of all the wideout misses made by Belichick, it’s the one who was dealt away before the start of 2022 training camps that got called “the biggest whiff.”
“Harry, who the Patriots traded to the Bears on Tuesday for a 2024 seventh-round pick, might be the biggest whiff of them all, given who was drafted in the following rounds,” Schrock said.
Notable names Belichick passed over in that draft year: Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Mecole Hardman, Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson — with all of those wide receivers a combined 4-2 in games against Belichick and the Pats and all of them either earning a Pro Bowl nod or a mega contract.
How Harry Was Once Comparable to New Rams WR
When the Rams swooped up Robinson in March 2022 via the free agency signing period, most analysts believed the move was made for the Rams to improve their ability in making the tightly contested grabs and find a way to improve their red zone scoring numbers — two traits the Pro Bowl wideout Robinson does highly well.
But again, the thought with Harry pre-2019 draft was that he was going to be a Robinson-type.
Lance Zierlein of nfl.com compared the Sun Devil star’s game to the towering and physical receiver who at the time was fresh off his first season as a Bear. Turned out that Harry was masterful at grabbing one contested catch that Robinson had been known for making.
“Back-shoulder boss who thrives with contested catch opportunities outside the numbers,” was in the first sentence Zierlein wrote in his evaluation of Harry. But next came how Harry “lacks explosive traits.”
Harry ends his Pats career with catching just 57 passes for 598 yards and scored 4 touchdowns — with none coming in the 2021 season. Harry also never produced a season of hauling in more than 33 receptions according to Pro Football Reference.