N’Keal Harry 6’ 4” 216 lbs WR Arizona st #1
If you were able to go to a laboratory and create the perfect X receiver, you would have a difficult time creating a better one than N’Keal Harry. He has a nice combination of size, speed, and incredible elusiveness. He is a star receiver who blocks, will rush the ball from the backfield and even returned 14 punts the last two years.
Harry’s grandmother (Felna Harry) has raised him since she moved with him off the tiny Caribbean island of Saint Vincent to Tempe, Arizona, when he was almost 4 (with her daughter’s and his mom’s blessing) to provide him with greater opportunities.
He has always shown an affinity for sports his grandmother said, “Ever since he was creeping and crawling, there was always a ball around. Even when we were out walking, just give a him a ball and he was a happy child.”
N’Keal was taught well by his grandmother, and she instilled in him some principal values that he will carry with him his entire life. “She wants to make sure I’m not that type of guy that is always talking about myself or that’s always out there acting a fool,” Harry said. “I’m really doing that for her because she’s always told me when I leave the house I’m a direct reflection of her, and she always told me don’t embarrass her or the name on the back of your jersey. So I make sure I’m remaining humble at all times.”
N’Keal may have been raised in the states but he never forgets his island roots. “The people in St. Vincent work hard to get what they get,” N’Keal said. “That’s kind of where I get my work ethic from because all I know is my grandma working hard. A lot of people from the island now are starting to watch football. I feel like I’m not just doing this for myself. I’m doing it for my family, and I’m doing it for my country.”
N’Keal has done a great job as an all around player. He is not just a field stretcher. He also works the short and intermediate routes as well. He has averaged over 6 receptions a game the last 2 years along with 20 rushing attempts. He is a YAC machine and will turn short passes into long gains. Here is just such an example..
He is 6’ 4” and nearly 220 lbs so he is able to absorb the hit in the backfield, spin out of it and get to top speed in just a few steps. He doesn’t have elite speed, but he has enough to outrun the DBs chasing him.
From another angle...
You can see this is just a simple jab step that turns into a bubble screen. Even though he doesn’t have elite speed, he has elite acceleration for such a big man. Many receivers his size need the length of a airport runway to get up to top speed. N’Keal does it in a few steps.
I was talking about YAC, and Harry makes a living with it. Here he is against press coverage. He is quick enough to cross the DB’s face before he can get hands on him. The DB is in catch up mode and tries to hold Harry but is dusted off like a gnat.
Harry has a unique skill set. He is big and strong enough to break away from press coverage but also fast enough to run away from the defender. He also has very good vision in the open field which allows him to break off long runs. This is the same play from another angle
You can see the hold by the CB and the force of Harry breaking away is what sends the DB flying. This is not the greatest route ever run, but it was effective. The play shows a nice array of strength, acceleration, speed and elusiveness.
These huge plays are nice, but the staple of the offense is the ability to make chain moving plays against tight coverage. Here is a quick back shoulder throw on a 4th and 3 play with the team down by 7 points. This is bracket coverage on Harry, but the ball gets there before the help can arrive.
You can see that the defender has his hands all over Harry yet Harry is still able to make the catch. These are the types of catches he will have to make on a weekly basis in the NFL. This one is nice because of the need for a first down with the pressure of 4th down. You would have liked to see him catch the ball with his hands away from his body, but he was under duress. The bottom line is he got the job done.
This is another play Harry will have to make in the NFL. This is a simple slant route against press coverage, and the DB gets his hands on him right off the snap. The DB is allowing the inside move because he has help inside with the LB and safety.
Harry is a strong, tough kid who is unafraid to run routes inside. He uses his physicality on the play, turning a 5 yard slant into a 45 yard play. He has NFL traits with the ability to beat man coverage and press coverage.
Another area where he will be asked repeatedly to excel in the NFL given his size is the red zone. A fade route to the back corner of the end zone is a game altering play that even hardened veteran receivers will make on only about 50% of the time. Anything above that is exceptional. This is an area where Harry can really make his mark. With the coverage on this play the defense is almost daring the QB to throw the ball to Harry.
This is a tough play for both the offensive and defensive players as they have to turn their backs to the play then spin around and find the ball. The defender does a nice job (except the obvious holding) to stay with Harry, but with the way Harry has him stacked the DB could never get to the ball. Also the defender never gets his head around to look for the ball.
You can see the play better from another angle (as well as the holding) as these two are on an island, and one of them is going to come out the winner. Harry shows good awareness of where he is on the field and easily stays in bounds.
Harry makes a nice catch on the ball and pulls it in quickly as to not allow the defender a chance to knock it out. Players like Harry are so good now at rolling over once the make the catch. It helps secure the ball from the impact as they hit the ground and allows the ref to see he has total control of the ball.
I mentioned earlier about good hands when talking about Harry. This is a really good example of skill and concentration to make a play. I have talked in other write ups about how to come off the ball. Here you see a perfect example on how to do just that. Harry is in the slot but on the line of scrimmage. He rockets off the line at the snap. This is the way every receiver should come off the ball, shoulders over knees. You attack the DB by forcing him to declare how he is going to defend you. Harry blows by the defender then looks back for the ball.
Showing great athleticism, Harry tips the ball to himself with terrific concentration and hand eye coordination. He then pulls the ball into his body while at the same time rolling over so his back hits the ground and absorbs the shock. This is the new and better way to maintain possession of the ball on awkward or off balance receptions like this one.
Harry runs a wide assortments of routes, and I voiced earlier how he is unafraid to go over the middle to make a play. In this situation it is 3rd and 5, and Harry runs to a dead spot between 4 defenders to make a reception.
This is who N’Keal Harry is, a complete WR who can run any route and has game changing abilities. On this play he knows he is going to get rocked after the catch, but he does it anyway to help the team and get a 1st down. These are the types of players you want to rebuild a team with.
This next play is a flub by Harry that turns into something good. Harry has thrown 4 passes off laterals in his career and threw one earlier this game. The problem is he drops the ball. When he looks down to pick up the ball he panics and neglects to look downfield.
He does the best he can to save a lost yardage play but ends up showing some special elusiveness on his way to the end zone. He goes around 6 defenders and gets a wicked downfield block to clear his path to a TD.
From the end zone view you get a better picture of all the traffic he had to go through to make this play. Three guys have a good shot, but only one actually gets a finger on him .
Harry has some special traits, and this is some elite elusiveness for a 6’ 4” 216 lbs player. He looks like a much smaller player, and he has quick feet for someone his size.
Again here is another example of the elite elusiveness Harry has on a little 7 yard stop route. This is probably an audible call that the QB has with Harry. With the defender 8 yards off the ball and bailing at the snap it is either a head nod or hand gesture that activates the quick pass. The rest is all Harry as he shows the great moves and nice speed.
It is usually not a good idea to give so much ground on a play considering you had an easy 8 yard gain to begin with. Although when you have a special athlete, you want to give him the freedom to make a play. In this instance it worked.
I love starters who play on special teams because it takes a lot of effort just to practice for those teams. The rest of your starting teammates are sitting and relaxing while you practice. It shows the level of dedication to the team when a star player works with the special teams. This is against USC. ASU is down by 4 and in need of a spark.
You can see that the return is to the right, and Harry does a great job of getting over to the other side of the field to catch up with his blocking. Many players who are all the way over on the numbers would have made a quick left, gotten 3 yards, and headed out of bounds. Instead Harry makes a game changing 92 yard punt return to give his team the lead.
The last play is about hands. Harry has a good set.
On this play Harry uses those hands, along with some great hand eye coordination and a ton of determination to make a play. Even the defender is stunned by the miraculous catch.
In my pre-Combine Draft ratings I have N’ Keal Harry as my #1 receiver for the fact that he is the most complete receiver in this Draft. There is nothing that Harry does that he isn’t exceptional at doing. His Draft grade is a mid 1st round talent, and that may vary ever so slightly with his Xombine and pro day results.
For those who care, my top 5 receivers right now (subject to change before the Draft) are:
- N’Keal Harry - Arizona State
- Kelvin Harmon - NC State
- D. K. Metcalf - Ole Miss
- Marquise Brown - Oklahoma
- Deebo Samuel - S Carolina Tie / Jakobi Meyers - NC State
To be honest there are a number of players who I could put into the #5 spot. and I’m sure my rankings will change in the next few months. There are about 10 receivers who deserve consideration in the 4 thru 8 positions.
This is a deep wide receiver class with 3 or 4 that stand above the rest but not that far above. I am sure there will be playmaking, quality receivers well into the 4th round. and some teams will get steals. There is no Calvin Johnson in this class, but there are Michael Thomas, Keenan Allen types in here.
As always let me know what you think...