Arizona State Sun Devils star N’Keal Harry has been compared to a number of high-level NFL wide receivers. The 2019 NFL Draft prospect deserves the hype.
Once built around a power-based run game, NFL offenses have embraced the need to adapt to the pass-oriented trends of today. Chalk that up to what you may please, but it’s a truth that’s become almost impossible to overlook.
Balance remains a crucial strength, but the direction of the NFL has increased the importance of star-caliber wide receivers to an all-time high.
In the past, superstar wide receivers have generally failed to walk away with a Super Bowl ring. Reliability has often been enough in the passing attack, but recent trends indicate that teams need a star, if not a superstar, at the position.
As for the champions, Alshon Jeffery produced nine receiving touchdowns for the 2017 Philadelphia Eagles. Jeffery may not be a star in all eyes, but it’s worth noting that 2017 was his first healthy season since he went for 85 receptions, 1,133 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2014.
One of the players who stands to benefit from this trend is 2019 NFL Draft prospect and current Arizona State Sun Devils star N’Keal Harry. Harry will be a junior in 2018, and already has two strong seasons under his belt.
Harry also has the tremendous burden of being compared to Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver and seven-time Pro Bowler A.J. Green.
That’s a bold claim, but it’s also somewhat understandable. Harry is a 6’4″ and 213-pound wideout who has made a name for himself by producing acrobatic catches in coverage and star-caliber production overall.
Reaching the level of play that Green has achieved is another task entirely, but a 6’4″ acrobat who can make plays in traffic will inevitably garner that lofty comparison.
As far as the numbers are concerned, Harry has been a force to be reckoned with since stepping foot in Tempe. He finished his freshman season with 58 receptions for 659 yards and five touchdowns, as well as 69 rushing yards and two touchdowns on just three total carries.
Furthermore, Harry produced 114 receiving yards against the Washington Huskies, which allowed an average of just 192.6 passing yards per game that season—good for 22nd in the country.
As a sophomore, Harry raised his game to an entirely new level. He pulled in 82 receptions for 1,142 yards and eight touchdowns, and received 13 carries for 65 yards on the ground—good for averages of 13.9 yards per reception and 5.0 yards per rushing attempt.
Harry is known for being capable of producing the highlight-reel reception, but it was his versatility that’s put him in the 2019 NFL Draft discussion.
Entering 2018, Harry is a favorite for the Biletnikoff Award and a prospect who could realistically come off the board in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. His ability to go over the top of opposing defenses will appeal to scouts, as well his value as a possession receiver.
The next step will be thriving on intermediate routes and proving that he can make plays along the sidelines—traits that will be required of him in the NFL.
Nevertheless, Harry looks the part of a potential No. 1 wide receiver. He can make difficult catches in traffic, is comfortable going up for jump balls, and has the catch radius to bail his quarterback out of a difficult situation.
Scouts will be anxious to see what improvements he makes to his game, but Harry is well on his way to garnering top-10 consideration.
The hype is growing louder as the 2018 college football season nears. N’Keal Harry deserves the praise.