Former Patriots First-Rounder ‘Was Destined to Fail’ in New England: Report

Getty N'Keal Harry

According to a recent report from Pro Football Focus’ Doug Kyed, now-former New England Patriots WR N’Keal Harry may have been set up for failure in Foxborough.

Harry was traded to the Chicago Bears for a seventh-round draft pick in 2024. That’s a noticeably low asset to pick up for a player the Patriots originally drafted with the 32nd pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.

What went wrong for Harry in New England?

According to Kyed, by some accounts, Harry was “destined to fail” with the Patriots. Under now-former offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, the Patriots offense was regarded as one of the most complex systems to grasp.

Harry’s jump-ball skills were believed to have caught Bill Belichick’s eye while the receiver was lighting up the PAC-12 with Arizona State. Unfortunately, that aspect of his game was rarely utilized. Harry reportedly didn’t communicate with the Patriots’ staff as much as they would have liked, and this habit appeared to have landed him in the doghouse.

A young receiver who is struggling to stay healthy (he missed 16 games in three seasons), confident and productive in a system that isn’t catered toward what he does best isn’t in the best situation. As Kyed points out, Harry wasn’t the only young Patriots receiver to struggle in the team’s system during McDaniels’ tenure.

The Patriots drafted 19 receivers in the past 20 years, and only three of them (Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, and David Givens) started more than 20 games for the team. Something is troubling about that reality.

However, it is difficult to criticize any aspect of its team-building practices when a franchise has made it to 9 Super Bowls and won six of them. While multiple sources referenced by Kyed point to a number of things that created an issue for Harry, they all seem to agree he was a horrible fit in New England.

Will the New-Look Offense Be Better for Young WRs?

Harry and several other young Patriots wide receivers struggled to reach their potential. What does the future hold for rookie Tyquan Thornton and others such as Tre Nixon or even Kristian Wilkerson?

There is a chance they will have a better shot at success with the system reportedly being streamlined from the football calculus McDaniels was forcing the team to absorb. If Thornton and other Patriots wide receivers begin to blossom, it could serve as an indictment on McDaniels’ tenure with the Patriots.

The Patriots won many games with McDaniels at the helm of the offense. McDaniels was a part of all six of the Patriots Super-Bowl winning squads. He worked as a quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator on four of those teams. However, Tom Brady was the quarterback for all of those runs, and like Belichick, McDaniels still has yet to prove he can lead an offense to top-shelf success without the future Hall-of-Fame quarterback.

McDaniels will have another chance to prove himself this season, his first as the Las Vegas Raiders head coach.

The 2022 Season is Key for the Patriots Offense Moving Forward

Patriots quarterback Mac Jones is getting an opportunity to put his stamp on the new-look offense. Without the direct guidance of an offensive coordinator (especially one as entrenched as McDaniels), Jones is exuding confidence, says veteran safety, Adrian Phillips.

How Jones meshes with his receivers this season and how the entire offense performs will be key for the franchise moving forward. Will the Patriots have made the right changes to make themselves a solid offense into the future and one where receivers can thrive?

That’s one of the biggest questions ahead of the 2022 campaign.

Meanwhile, Harry will be in Chicago, hoping a change of scenery can cleanse him of the muddy memories from his forgettable three-year stint in New England.

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