New England Patriots

As a first-round pick in 2019, N’Keal Harry came to New England with high expectations that have not been met in his three seasons with the team.

The start of the season could mark the end of Harry’s tenure as a Patriot. According to Mike Reiss at ESPN.com, the team’s acquisition of DeVante Parker over the weekend “likely means the end of the road” for Harry in Foxboro.

After showing flashes of productivity with two touchdowns in seven games in 2019, Harry struggled over the last two seasons to stay on the field and add value in the passing game. The 24-year-old will look for another shot to produce in the NFL down the road.

Harry requested a trade before the 2021 season, but ultimately remained with the Patriots through the full season. His future in the NFL will have questions about when and where he can continue to play.

What do the 2022 combine results tell us about the Patriots at the draft?

  • The NFL Combine returned in 2022 and remains the most prominent source for pre-draft measurements, and it came with plenty of potential intrigue for the Patriots to take interest in a number of prospects. Here’s who tested well in key drills at the combine or their Pro Day that seem like draft fits for New England…

    Defensive Back: Dax Hill, Michigan

    Dax Hill #DB53 of Michigan runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    Dax Hill #DB53 of Michigan runs a drill during the NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on March 06, 2022 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

    Three-Cone: 6.48 seconds, 2nd overall at Combine

    Hill mainly played safety at Michigan, and the Patriots obviously have a more urgent need at cornerback. But the Pats also lack a clear long-term replacement for Devin McCourty when he eventually retires, and Hill has been described as a guy who can step in and play nickel corner as well. The Michigan connection is obvious, and the Patriots seem like a good fit for his versatility and football smarts.

    The Draft Network says: “Hill is an extremely versatile player at the back end of this defense. He can play single-high free safety, nickel, outside corner, and even has aligned as a dime backer. His blend of athleticism and toughness are exactly what NFL defensive coordinators are looking for out of a defensive back as it allows them to be creative on where he is utilized.” (source)

  • Guard: Zion Johnson, Boston College

    Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles offensive lineman Zion Johnson (77) looks to block against the Colgate Raiders during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Sep 4, 2021; Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, USA; Boston College Eagles offensive lineman Zion Johnson (77) looks to block against the Colgate Raiders during the first half at Alumni Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Bench Press: 32 reps, 1st overall at Combine

    On the offensive line, the Patriots have shown a propensity for prospects who ranked highly at the bench press, as opposed to the three-cone. You can point to Justin Herron (10th among all OL at the 2020 Combine) and Yodny Cajuste (1st among all tackles at the 2019 Combine) as evidence of that. There’s not a ton to analyze with Johnson, though. He’ll be a plug-and-play starting guard for whoever drafts him, and the Patriots would likely need to take him at 21. Johnson played center at the Senior Bowl, too. He wouldn’t be just a good replacement for Ted Karras, he’d be an upgrade.

    The Draft Network says: “How quickly Johnson made the transition from Davidson to Boston College and forced his way into the lineup speaks to his football intelligence and ability to acclimate. There is a natural sense of timing in how Johnson executes his assignments. Johnson understands his technique, trusts it, and is rarely guilty of penalties.” (source)

  • Cornerback: Zyon McCollum, Sam Houston State

    May 16, 2021; Frisco, Texas, USA; Sam Houston State Bearkats defensive back Zyon McCollum (22) and his teammates celebrate winning the game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at the Division I FCS Championship football game at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    May 16, 2021; Frisco, Texas, USA; Sam Houston State Bearkats defensive back Zyon McCollum (22) and his teammates celebrate winning the game against the South Dakota State Jackrabbits at the Division I FCS Championship football game at Toyota Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

    Three-Cone Drill: 6.48, 1st overall at Combine

    McCollum is rising up draft boards after a dominant Combine. He didn’t just “win” the three-cone, he also led the 20-yard shuttle at 3.94 seconds, ran a 4.33 in the 40-yard dash (seventh overall), and ranked top-10 in the vertical jump and broad jump drills. He still seems to have a ceiling in terms of draft stock due to being a little tall for a cornerback (6-foot-4) and having limitations in man coverage and in tackling. But the Patriots could view him as a good raw athlete they can teach how to tackle and develop as a football player.

    The Draft Network says: “McCollum has an ideal skill set for zone coverage duties where his size, length, and ball skills can be fully maximized. He does a great job of reading the backfield and working into throwing lanes. He is comfortable working from the half-turn and staying leveraged.” (source)

  • Edge Rusher: Nik Bonitto, Oklahoma

    Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oklahoma defensive lineman Nik Bonitto (DL01) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 5, 2022; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Oklahoma defensive lineman Nik Bonitto (DL01) goes through drills during the 2022 NFL Scouting Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

    Three-Cone Drill: 7.07, 3rd among all DE/EDGE at Combine

    The Patriots took two Sooners in 2021, outside linebacker Ronnie Perkins and running back Rhamondre Stevenson. Bonitto seems like he may be redundant with Perkins, who still has yet to get a real shot at playing, and he may be a little light for Belichick’s liking (248 pounds). But the Pats have historically drafted edge players who rated highly in the three-cone drill, so that and other connections make him a prospect worth knowing.

    The Draft Network says: “Bonitto is a very instinctual football player who understands his assignments. He can process quickly and can read blocking schemes. He is asked to play a variety of roles for the Sooner defense, whether it’s rushing the passer, dropping in zone coverage, or being a spy.” (source)

  • Wide Receiver: Bo Melton, Rutgers

    Bo Melton #18 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights hauls in a reception against JoJo Domann #13 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the first quarter at SHI Stadium on December 18, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

    Bo Melton #18 of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights hauls in a reception against JoJo Domann #13 of the Nebraska Cornhuskers during the first quarter at SHI Stadium on December 18, 2020 in Piscataway, New Jersey. (Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

    Three-Cone Drill: 6.98, 3rd at WR at Combine

    Rutgers. Of course. But it has been almost a decade since Belichick has drafted someone from what used to seem like his favorite college program. Beyond that connection, Melton has the versatility to play slot receiver and returner. He’d be a developmental guy who wouldn’t transform the Patriots offense overnight, but Melton seems like a Patriots type of pick.

    The Draft Network says: “I like Melton best with his stature and athletic profile as a developmental slot receiver and in the return game. For that reason alone, you can probably justify an active roster spot and hope that he becomes more developed as a receiver in order to truly fulfill two active roster spots as a viable receiver and special teams player.” (source)

NEXT: Patriots Mock Draft 2.5: Adjusting for the DeVante Parker trade