N’Keal Harry’s college coach on what went wrong with Patriots


“It was like, ‘C’mon, N’Keal.’ Because talent-wise? He’s got enough talent.”

New England Patriots wide receiver N'Keal Harry (1) warms up on the field before an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021, in Indianapolis.
N’Keal Harry didn’t make much of an impact during his three seasons with the Patriots. (AP Photo/Zach Bolinger)

N’Keal Harry stands as one of the more disappointing draft busts in recent history for the Patriots.

The 32nd overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft out of Arizona State, Harry was expected to be the big-bodied, boundary receiver capable of reeling in 50-50 balls and generating chunk yardage off of deep throws from Tom Brady.

But even with their pressing need for more playmakers, the Patriots were unable to get much from Harry during his three seasons in Foxborough — with the wideout only recording 57 catches for 598 yards and four touchdowns from 2019-21.

So what exactly went wrong during Harry’s tenure with the Patriots?

Speaking with Tyler Dunne at “Go Long,” Harry’s college coach at Arizona State — Herm Edwards — mapped out why Harry wasn’t able to translate his evident skills to the NFL ranks. 

“He had too many followers, man. That’s what killed him. That poor kid,” Edwards told Dunne. “He had hanger-on’ers. And it was like, ‘C’mon, N’Keal.’ Because talent-wise? He’s got enough talent. He’s a big, strong physical receiver to catch the ball. And then he went to New England. That was the worst place for him to go because it just didn’t fit. That didn’t fit him.”

Harry fit the profile of a dynamic outside receiver, given his 6-foot-2, 228-pound frame and his knack for leaping above defensive backs in college en route to big gains. But Edwards stressed that pure talent alone can’t carry players toward a fruitful career at football’s highest level.

“Talent sometimes can be a curse. I’ve always said that. If you don’t use it correctly, it could be a curse to you,” Edwards said. “You’ve got so much talent and you think, ‘I got this.’ You ain’t got it. Because the problem is, you’re going into a league where everybody’s got talent and you’ve got to work at it.

“You’ve got to have work ethic. You’ve got to focus in on football. Football’s got to be the No. 1 thing. It can’t be what football provides you.”

Beyond Harry’s underwhelming returns on the field, New England’s decision to take Harry with the final pick of the first round in 2019 is destined to look worse with each new season — given the receiving talent that the Patriots overlooked in order to draft the ASU wide receiver.

Just four picks after Harry went off the board to New England, the 49ers drafted All-Pro wideout Deebo Samuel with the 36th overall pick, while the Titans took another All-Pro in A.J. Brown with the 51st pick.

The Patriots ultimately traded Harry to Chicago for a seventh-round pick in the summer of 2022.

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