NAME: N’Keal Harry
SCHOOL: Arizona State
JERSEY: No. 1
RECRUITMENT RATING: 4-star
WT: 216 lbs
Route Running – Physical route runner who possesses a wonderful blend of athletic abilities to beat defenders to all levels. Shows arm over technique and effective short area quickness to defeat press coverage and play through contact and separate down the field.
Hands –Hand strength is terrific, will squeeze the football in traffic and pull in contested targets with consistency. Has the extension and catch radius to win in contested situations and possesses an impressive catch rate against tight coverage.
Contested Catch Ability –Is a tight coverage ace, will out-wrestle defenders for the football with size, strength and length. Times jumps well to ensure he’s reaching the football at optimal extension. Has the size to box out defenders on fades or back shoulder throws.
Run After Catch Ability –RAC monster courtesy of size and speed. Effective in using free arm to create additional space and maximize RAC opportunities. Contact balance vs. arm tackles is superb, runs through soft challenges and creates a lot of extra yards on his own after the catch.
Football IQ –Sideline and backline awareness is excellent. Has made the most of tight quarters receptions with length and foot placement. Willing to sell false breaks to defenders and establish a false step before breaking into open space against off coverage.
Vertical Receiving –Has enough long speed to get over the top of turn and run defenders. Is a handful if given a free release and also offers a challenge in press coverage thanks to effective release vs. press coverage. Shows great ball skills to read the football over his shoulder.
Change of Direction Skills –Flashes tremendous short area quickness for a player of his size, shows suddenness in short area to stop on a dime and break pursuit angles before getting back up the field. Fluid in short spaces to play with suddenness and establish separation.
Speed –Moves much better than one would expect from a player of this stature. Startling acceleration out of the catch point. Has enough speed to pull away from defenders in the open and will stack press coverage effectively.
Competitive Toughness –Plays hard. Admirable effort after the catch to stonewall tacklers and press up the field. Transitions into a blocker with effectiveness, plays ready with the hands to punch and establish a hand fit on defensive backs.
Blocking Ability –Frame is overwhelming for boundary corners to work around and challenge the ball. Has the length and punch to win control of defensive backs in the secondary. Moves feet well to mirror and slide against defenders to frame blocks.
BEST TRAIT – Hands
WORST TRAIT – Change of Direction Skills
BEST FILM – Oregon (2017)
WORST FILM – Washington (2018)
RED FLAGS – None
N’Keal Harry projects favorably as a prototypical X-receiver in the NFL. Harry’s size, contested catch ability and skills defeating press coverage combine to offer an impressive package of traits, especially when considering the versatility Harry brings to an offense as a RAC receiver, deep threat and as a red-zone target. Harry may require some time to further develop but he has dominant traits.
Separation Quickness – Overall explosiveness and burst are missing out of the break. Never going to be a consistent separator from press man coverage, but does show the ability to break hard and decisively after pushing vertical. One speed receiver without the ability to change gears in an instant, but I love that he makes his cuts at full speed without throttling down.
Ball Skills – Has the ability to make any catch with a massive radius and strong hands. Some of his best plays have come on unbelievable adjustments to the football. Concentration does seem to come and go some, will let a few slip through his hands that shouldn’t and doesn’t always high-point the football, instead opting for body catches at times. Clearly has the hands and tracking ability to make catches outside his frame, just needs to be more consistent. Tracks the ball over his shoulder beautifully.
Speed/Burst – Doesn’t get to top speed quickly, and even when he gets there, it isn’t much to write home about. I don’t know what he’ll test, but he doesn’t play fast. Vertical separation against man coverage just doesn’t happen. Not going to be a speed guy over the top, will be forced to rely on ball skills to make plays vertically against man coverage.
Route-Running – Doesn’t run a super expansive route tree, lots of hitches, comebacks and bubbles. Does run the occasional slant, dig and post pattern, but gets a lot of his touches in a manufactured fashion. Already mentioned the lack of elite athletic tools to be a top-notch separator, but also doesn’t drop his hips and explode back to the ball on those return routes. Upright route runner with some stiffness. Does a good job of getting out of his breaks without wasting steps, opening to the ball and making strong cuts.
Contested Catch – Totally exceptional in this area in flashes. Technically there are things you want to see improve at times, but the results are eye-popping. Has made several of the toughest contested grabs I’ve seen over the past few years. When the concentration is right, one-handed grabs and battling through defensive pass interference are non-issues. Box out ability with his back to the defense. In 2017 won vertically simply due to ability to make catches with a defender on him.
YAC – Oddly good in this area. Not explosive or overly elusive at all, but pulls out all the stops to shake off tacklers. Active on his feet, spinning and shifting through trash to pick up extra yards. Tank-like build is tough to stop when he gets going. Legs churn through arm tackles. Lack of burst does limit him, unable to juke out players and fly away from tacklers, so he’s typically surrounded quickly.
Releases – Needs to show more urgency off the line of scrimmage against off coverage, can be slow off the ball and doesn’t sell vertically with low pads. Can’t beat press corners off the ball with the burst that some of the other top receivers in the draft have. Has done a better job of varying up his releases this season, but not explosive enough to keep cornerbacks from recovering on him most of the time. Big and strong enough to be unaffected by jams when his technique is right. Didn’t face a lot of physically tough corners in the PAC.
Blocking – Has flashes of ferocious blocking ability and technique coupled with outstanding effort. Then there are spurts of play where he simply reaches outside his frame half-heartedly for blocks too. I think this will be a strength of his game in the NFL if he’s willing to get coached up a little bit.
Competitive Toughness – It’s tough to observe from afar, but he has some clear alligator arm instances on tape over the middle of the field. Effort does seem to wane at times, talk is out there that he doesn’t always practice hard. Still, moments of peak toughness on the field are clear alpha. Can Moss anyone and has some eye-popping moments as a blocker.
Athleticism/Size – Will have one of the best frames for a receiver in the entire NFL the moment he enters the league. Unbelievable build, muscle distribution, length and pro-ready strength. Athletically average on the ground, but does show good hops on tape. Combine is as big for him as any receiver in the draft. If he’s healthy and chooses not to run, strong indication to me that his time would have been in 4.6s at least.
BEST TRAIT – Contested Catch
WORST TRAIT – Speed/Burst
RED FLAGS – None
On the hoof, few prospects at any position in the entire class look better than Harry, who has packed on muscle and possesses the ideal size for a no. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. The instances where he utilizes that size and strength – to moss a corner at the catch point, to toss a defensive back as a blocker, to extend for a ball outside his frame despite tight coverage – are glorious and show the salivating traits that Harry could make a living on at the next level.
But his lack of speed, burst and overall athleticism are issues that need to be considered. He doesn’t always play like an alpha, and there is some limit to what he provides an offense due to his inability to create great separation from press man corners. NFL defensive backs will challenge him in very new ways, and Harry will have to consistently play hard and with better attention to detail than he always did in college. There is risk involved here, and limitations even at his peak, but if Harry can impress at the Combine, he’ll have a lot of teams looking to draft him amongst the top wide receivers in the 2019 class.
Routes – Lacks the physical tools to be a top separator. Has build up speed that slowly eats away cushion. Stiffness in upper body and torso mitigate his ability to truly snap his body around when making cuts/breaks. Took advantage of manufactured touches in college. Upright route runner overall. Breaks through contact at top of routes. Not a true route salesman but makes good adjustments on the fly.
Hands – Has really exciting moments of plucking the football out of the air away from his frame and tightly squeezing it. Has the grip strength needed to control the football through contact. Greets the football with the proper technique but isn’t immune to the occasional drop.
Ball Skills – While there are some lapses in concentration, Harry makes some beautiful grabs down the field on account of his ability to track the football, adjust and attack it like a true alpha. Has no issues extending in any direction and snaring the ball. Does well to position his frame at the catch point. Would like him to be more consistent elevating for the ball and winning above the rim.
YAC Ability – Produces better in this area than expected given his modest burst and elusive traits. Physical and competitive after the catch and sees the field well. Illustrates good contact balance and body control to break through tackles and gain yards. Lacks the acceleration to truly break pursuit angles.
Release – Would like him to be more urgent in his release. Can easily beat press coverage on account of his size and strength but isn’t necessarily the bully in the contact window he can be. Poor leverage affects his ability to truly sell vertical routes. Relies too much on footwork to clear jams. Is guilty at times of too many steps and he simply needs to get into his stem.
Play Speed – Has build up speed but is still effective down the field because of his ball skills. Not a threat to simply run by coverage. Testing will weigh heavily on his valuation. Generally has good route tempo and pace.
Blocking – Makes his share of physical and impactful blocks. Aggressively attacks opponents and can overwhelm them with his size/power. Would like him to be more consistent staying square post-contact to sustain blocks better. Gets his work done.
Play Strength – Has the frame and power to win as a true power forward. Excels in contested situations to establish his body at the catch point. Easily breaks through contact at the top of routes and in the contact window. Illustrates good balance and strength with the ball in his hands. There are times I wish he was more assertive to use his size and strength, something he must be consistent with to maximize his traits in the NFL.
Versatility – Has been effective working outside and as a big slot. Has playmaking ability to all levels of the field although his modest play speed presents more challenges in the NFL than it did against the Pac 12 to win vertically and post-catch.
BEST TRAIT – Ball Skills
WORST TRAIT – Play Speed
RED FLAGS – None
Harry projects as an x-receiver at the NFL level with the upside to also serve as a big slot. His ball skills and ability to win in contested situations, combined with excellent play strength and balance make him a threat to challenge all levels of the field. With that said, his lack of quickness, speed and elusive traits present challenges to his ability to uncover. Harry can produce at the next level but making sure he is surrounded by quicker receivers will be important to lift coverage and create the space needed to take advantage of his skill set. Harry must also embrace his size and power to consistently overpower opponents given how NFL defenses will compete against him compared to the Pac 12.
Hands – Regularly illustrates strong hands through contact and in the air. Willing to reach away from his frame and snag the football, almost to a fault — will eschew body-catches at times when they might be beneficial, and accordingly has some struggles with drops on horizontal routes by addressing the football at odd angles and letting it eat him up. Hand strength clearly illustrates a room for growth here.
Route Running – Uninspiring. Has tremendous physical tools but does not recruit all of them to their capacity. Best trait is vertical burst against off coverage, which allows him to eat up ground in a hurry on vertical stems; also impresses with ability to retain velocity through cut, especially on multi-break routes. Lacks a nuanced understanding of leverage and how to separate with route stems: regularly dances at the break point/release point without much of an objective in mind, and does not acknowledge how to adjust his routes to coverage.
Releases – Some flashes, but overall a bit tepid. Has the ideal length/strength profile to win with physicality at the release point, but all too often fails to recruit his hands in a meaningful way. Does not actively attempt to manipulate leverage by attacking a shoulder/half-man, and has lost multiple reps by addressing press corners square. Has some good lateral quickness but again, doesn’t maximize it throughout the release process. There are encouraging positive signs here, but they are few and far between.
Tracking – Does a wonderful job locating and attacking the football. Can address the football at its highest point and wins multiple reps by locating the flight path before anyone else gets a hold on it. Will get lazy at times addressing the football away from his frame, in terms of adjusting super late or failing to come back for a football that he clearly sees coming.
Catch Radius – Has an elite catch radius and the ability to make stupid plays outside of his frame. Concentration and strength through contact can both astound at times, as well as body control in the air to adjust to back-shoulder passes, 50/50 balls, and goal line fades. Will be limited at times by his effort and willingness to come back downhill to passes, however.
RAC – His best trait. Nigh on impossible to tackle in the open field given his strength, contact balance, and straight line burst. Ability to maintain speed through angles doesn’t hurt that much either, especially when Harry looks to reverse field. Background as a return man colors in field vision and ability to set up blocks nicely. Is a threat to house all touches given tackle-breaking ability and breakaway speed — deserves far more intermediate/shallow touches than he got at ASU.
Physicality – A disappointment. While the ball is in his hands: willing to take on contact, but never really looks to lower his shoulder and bring the thunder to a tackler. As a blocker, can get active but is often looking for stalemates. As a route-runner, is all too happy to get chucked in the contact window and allows smaller corners to stay in his hip pocket, limiting the throwing window. Lack of physicality in his route stem for his size is particularly damning of his effort, and is part of the reason why he was much more effective in the slot (off coverage).
Blocking – Can use his length/size/strength well to lock out corners — will be active in generating running lanes down the field on screens and scrambles that come his way. As a piece of the run blocking scheme, brings half-hearted effort and looks to seal off more than eliminate defenders. Good portion of receiving production came in the slot, but most of blocking action came from the outside, so questions abound about his ability to get rough with linebackers in the running game.
Functional Athleticism – Is a tremendous straight-line athlete with wonderful explosiveness. Can really gobble up space against off coverage or bust angles with the ball in his hands. Does not have much looseness working through cuts, but for his size, is more than what you’d expect for sure. Strong, broad, and built like an X-receiver, though usage of strength in his game could be developed significantly further.
BEST TRAIT – RAC
WORST TRAIT – Route Running
RED FLAGS – Effort
PLAYER COMPARISON – Allen Robinson
N’Keal Harry looks like an X-receiver, and will likely get reps there at the NFL level, but it’s tough to ignore the weaknesses in his game, and how an increase in slot reps affected his production. Built like the platonic ideal of the wide receiver, Harry wins when the ball is in the air, with tremendous hand strength, great concentration, and the leaping ability to dunk over almost any NFL-sized corner. Given his explosive profile and natural feel for tackle-breaking, Harry is also deserving of some schemed touches, such as bubble screens, and shallow routes that give him space to turn upfield and work.
That said, Harry’s struggles releasing off of tight press coverage, generating throwing windows downfield, and working back to the football all cannot be ignored. There have been concerns with Harry’s effort and practice character for multiple seasons now at ASU, and those effort question marks show up on tape. Harry is lazy in his route stems and releases, which makes life more difficult on his QB than it needs to be, and he will get out-competed for the football as a result of sloppy play. These issues in the contact window may push Harry into more of a big-slot role early, though he has as high a ceiling as any WR in this class.