By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
There are a lot of ways to describe N'Keal Harry's game. The newest Patriots wide receiver has a unique skill set and measurables that could make him a powerful weapon for Tom Brady.
But ask Harry, and he'll tell you the key is passion.
Harry was asked to describe his game during an introductory conference call with reporters on Thursday night, mere minutes after the Patriots announced that they'd selected him with the 32nd pick in the first round of the 2019 NFL Draft. He said nothing about his hands, or his jump-ball prowess, or his power and elusiveness after the catch. To Harry, it's all about wanting to make the play more than the other guy.
"I would describe my game as very passionate. I play with a lot of passion," Harry said. "Whenever that ball is in the air, I’ll sacrifice anything to go get it and I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team win. Anything Coach wants me to do, whether it’s on special teams, offense, anything, I’ll do it just to do my part and to be one piece of the puzzle in helping us win."
The former Arizona State wideout quickly endeared himself as a Patriot-like presence when he added that he's willing to do whatever's expected of him. He'll play inside or outside. He'll try special teams if they need him there.
"Whatever Coach wants me to do – if he wants me to do one or the other or both – I wouldn’t hesitate to jump at it," Harry said.
You're going to see a lot of literal jumping at it with Harry. He pairs his passion with some distinctive physical traits, namely velcro hands and a 38.5-inch vertical (seventh-best among all WRs at the Combine). He's also among the strongest receivers Bill Belichick has ever drafted. He tied with viral athletic freak D.K. Metcalf for the Combine lead among wideouts with 27 bench press reps.
Harry's specialty is simply going up and getting the ball, which you can see in his Arizona State highlights from the Patriots' official YouTube channel. At 3:35 you can see Harry come down with a contested ball in the end zone, pretty much with one hand.
But it's probably not a coincidence that the majority of these highlights are shorter plays that Harry turns into big ones. To be sure, he lacks top-end speed for the position. but his size, strength, and field vision make him hard to bring down after the catch. If Harry clicks quickly with Tom Brady, you could totally envision him taking quick slants or slip screens for chunks of yardage at a time.
Perhaps most importantly, they'll have a "passionate", industrious receiver making those plays. The hope is that Harry sidesteps any potential negative effects of the pressure associated with being the first wideout Belichick ever drafted in the first round, and realizes his full potential.
"For [Belichick] to have that much faith in me and to have that much trust in me, it just makes me want to work that much harder," Harry said. "So, I’m going to come in with a workhouse mindset and get better every day."
Those final four words. Harry already knows the magic phrase.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].