If N’Keal Harry wants to continue focusing on his footwork, he should consult with his New England Patriots teammate Julian Edelman this summer.
Much has been made during the month of May about N’Keal Harry’s offseason workouts.
He’s been working with a pair of high-profile trainers in Justin Allen and Rischad Whitfield in an effort to make the fabled second-year NFL leap. Whitfield in particular — otherwise known as “The Footwork King” — has seemingly been a constant mentoring presence in Harry’s life for weeks now.
As a reminder, Harry made quite a bit of headlines this time last year too.
Riding high off being Bill Belichick’s first ever first-round wide receiver draft pick as head coach of the New England Patriots, Harry entered Foxborough with enormous expectations on his shoulders. He reportedly put on quite a show during OTAs and into last June’s minicamp, setting the media world ablaze with fantasies of his instant production and potential in the Patriots offense.
As we all know now, however, it wasn’t meant to be.
Harry suffered an unfortunate injury during joint practices with the Lions and then further aggravated the injury during New England’s preseason game against Detroit. He missed the first half of the regular season as a result, and didn’t end up returning the Patriots’ Week 11 road trip to Philadelphia.
Harry’s stats were modest from there on out over the final seven games of the regular season and in New England’s surprising first-round home upset loss to Tennessee in the playoffs.
Julian Edelman arguably has the best footwork and route-running acumen in the NFL
While working with Allen and Whitfield certainly shows that Harry’s serious about improving on his shortcomings in time for his sophomore effort in the NFL, he should also really consider reaching out to a teammate on his very own roster if he wants to take that next step in his development.
I’m talking, of course, about Julian Edelman, the elder statesman on the Patriots roster.
Edelman is a completely different body type than Harry. He also has a completely different story — whereas Harry is a first-round draft pick who’s played wide receiver since he was a kid, Edelman is a former college quarterback and a seventh-round draft pick.
Other than being Patriots teammates last year, this year, and for the foreseeable future, though, these two players could stand to help each other out this offseason by working together — provided it’s doable with the pandemic and social distancing rules in effect, of course.
Edelman might not have the size, hands, or “outmuscling ability” that many of his NFL contemporaries possess, but he does have one noted advantage on most of his wideout peers: and that’s his feet.
“The Squirrel” is notoriously effective at creating separation from defensive backs by running polished and sophisticated route trees and breaking the ankles of those who try to cover him. He’s one of the best in the league at getting open and getting open consistently — the two major issues (other than injury) that really hampered Harry’s rookie season.
Harry has so much he could learn from Edelman if they decide to work out and train together this summer. They’ve done it before — the pair notably trained with Tom Brady around this time last year, with the three practicing on their own in a random park somewhere in New England.
Edelman could also benefit from working with Harry. While he might not have anything to learn from the former Sun Devil (who’s 12 years his junior), an improved Harry in the New England offense only serves to draw more defensive coverage this season away from Edelman.
Truly, it’s a win-win for both players. Hopefully, they’ll find a way to make this happen at some point before the season starts.