The New England Patriots revamped their wide receiving corps in a big way this offseason, inking deals with the likes of Kendrick Bourne and Nelson Agholor.
Though most fans would’ve preferred to see Bill Belichick target a more proven wideout, like Kenny Golladay or JuJu Smith-Schuster, they have very little to complain about knowing that quarterback Cam Newton will be throwing to better weapons.
As far as the rest of the arsenal is concerned, Julian Edelman is seemingly set to return to the Patriots and Jakobi Meyers will look to improve upon a breakout year in which he led the team in both receptions (59) and receiving yards (729).
That could leave N’Keal Harry on the outside looking in after another disappointing year, which makes it understandable why New England has reportedly been fielding trade offers for the 2019 first-round pick this offseason, though no deal appears imminent just yet.
It’s been regurgitated countless times that Harry was the wrong pick at No. 32 overall two years ago.
As it turns out, however, it was Belichick who campaigned to select him and turned down what was foolproof advice from two of his scouts.
Bill Belichick has blood on his hands with the Patriots’ selection of N’Keal Harry.
According to insider Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated, Belichick ignored his scouting department in 2019, which reportedly preferred the likes of Deebo Samuel and AJ Brown, both of whom were taken and No. 36 and No. 51 overall that year, respectively, over Harry.
Though Samuel has been unlucky in the injury department over his first two seasons, he’s already established himself as one of the most dynamic slot receivers in the league. In fact, you can argue that there isn’t a better WR after the catch than the 49ers star.
Across 22 games, he’s compiled 90 receptions for 1,193 yards and four touchdowns, to go with 22 carries for 186 yards (8.4 YPC) and an additional three scores on the ground.
Brown, meanwhile, is a certified superstar at the position. After an exceptional rookie season, he continued to make strides in his development as a sophomore, registering 70 receptions for 1,075 yards and 11 touchdowns, the latter of which tied for the fifth-most among qualified receivers.
Outside of DK Metcalf, who the Patriots also passed on in favor of Harry in 2019, you’d be hard-pressed to name a wide receiver who has a more daunting combination of strength, speed and explosiveness than Brown.
We really don’t need to delve into how Harry hasn’t lived up to his first-round billing, but fans probably can’t help but wonder what could’ve been had the Patriots nabbed either one of Samuel or Brown. Who knows, maybe Tom Brady wouldn’t have pushed to leave last offseason.
We’ll just never know for sure, and that’s what stings the most.
If there’s a silver lining to be had in all this, however, it lies in the fact that Belichick is reportedly being “more collaborative” in his approach to this year’s draft, which is now officially less than three weeks away.
Let’s hope that leads to more home run picks for the Patriots, because there have been far too many swings and misses over the last few years for our liking and nobody’s embodied them more than Harry, who’s mustered just 45 receptions over his first 21 games in the NFL.