“The hoodie” hasn’t always been lauded for his brain power as coach and general manager of the New England Patriots.
The six-time Super Bowl winning head coach Bill Belichick was reminded by one analyst of one NFL Draft blunder he delivered on a day the league witnessed a high-profile wide receiver trade. And this gaffe has San Francisco 49ers star Deebo Samuel coming into the picture.
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First reported by Ian Rapoport and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network on the afternoon of Tuesday, July 12, the Pats and Belichick moved on from disappointing first round draft pick N’Keal Harry, who never truly lived up to his potential as the final pick of the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. Rapoport even used the words “at long last” before sending out the breaking news update.
Harry was once compared to Pro Bowl wide receiver Allen Robinson when he entered the league out of Arizona State. Lance Zierlein of nfl.com once described the 6-foot-2, 228-pound wideout as a “back shoulder boss” in describing his acrobatic catches. Plus adding how he was “highly competitive at everything he does” and how the WR was “consistently productive over three seasons,” which made up for his 4.53 40-yard dash time and his lack of foot quickness as described by the draft evaluator.
However, one NBC analyst reminded people that Harry’s failure adds to the list of “biggest whiff” moves Belichick has made — with this analyst bringing up the 49ers’ All-Pro’s name.
Belichick Passed on Samuel Plus Other High Profile WRs
Columnist Josh Schrock ripped Belichick for his decision to choose Harry in a loaded WR class of 2019 that featured future 1,000-yard wideouts and Pro Bowlers like Samuel.
“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 wrote.
“Belichick has found a few gems like Julian Edelman, Deion Branch, and David Givens. But other than that, it’s been a position that has given Belichick fits during the draft. 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).”
But it’s the latter who earns the most telling title by Schrock.
“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.
And that’s where Schrock unveiled the reminder of which wideout went after Harry first, before rolling out the other names.
“Deebo Samuel, A.J. Brown, DK Metcalf, and Mecole Hardman were all selected in the second round, while Terry McLaurin and Diontae Johnson went in the third round,” Schrock reminded.
Harry was one of two first round wideouts, joining Marquise “Hollywood” Brown who went higher at No. 25 to Baltimore. Samuel, though, wasn’t taken until the 36th pick.
Fans of the 49ers may even remember this message Samuel sent in April 2019 to Belichick himself.
And the one time Belichick had to game plan for Samuel, the 36th overall pick caught five passes on all five targets for 65 yards in the 49ers’ 33-6 thrashing of the Patriots on October 25, 2020. Harry, meanwhile, caught just one pass for 6 yards that afternoon.
Samuel isn’t the only 49ers wideout who has ended up out-performing Harry.
WR With Ties to Harry Has Become Impact Member on 49ers
Arizona State may have produced a first round talent at WR in 2019 and 2020, but it’s the WR from the latter class who has had the better production.
That would be Brandon Aiyuk, who was taken No. 25 overall.
Aiyuk’s production: 116 catches, 1,574 yards, 10 touchdowns and career-bests in yards (826) and average yards per catch (14.8) last season. The Athletic’s 49ers insider David Lombardi also joined in on piling on Belichick and the Pats’ blunder — reminding people on social media that it would be Aiyuk passing Harry in the NFL, which has come true.
Aiyuk even outperformed his former heralded teammate on that October 2020 afternoon…being the only wideout who delivered a 100-yard outing (six catches for 115 yards) in that romp of the Pats.