The NFL, apparently, has taken a page out of the NBA’s playbook by having one of the most frenzied openings to a free agency period in recent memory. For real, guys, we have general managers all over the league pulling stuff that isn’t even possible on Madden - I’ve personally tried executing the trades that sent Odell Beckham, Jr and Antonio Brown to Cleveland and Oakland, respectively, and they did not go through (which is far and away the most securely scientific method to accurately determine the value of a trade, you know?).
The 49ers took a shot at OBJ and whiffed. There was reported interest in Antonio Brown and Tyrell Williams but, alas, nothing happened. They just released Pierre Garcon, a player who provided leadership in the locker room but was not able to stay healthy to make enough of a difference on the field. Dante Pettis shows a ton of promise and is poised for a breakout campaign in 2019. Marquise Goodwin is a speedster and has been reliable but lacks the size desired to be a true number one. The answer for San Francisco may lay within the realms of round 2 of the NFL Draft: enter former Arizona State Sun Devil N’Keal Harry.
NFL Combine Results
Harry was highly productive in college; he showed a knack for both securing contested catches and having enough breakaway speed to make defenses second-guess pressing him at the line of scrimmage. Heading into the Combine there were questions about his speed - that he would be unable to showcase the same burst that he did in college. Largely due to the fact that NFL defenses are, nowadays, extremely fast.
He showed out at the Combine, though. Running an official 4.53 40 time - well above what was projected for him. Here is a list of the rest of his results from Indianapolis:
Height: 6’2” Weight: 228 lbs Hands: 9.5 inches Arms: 33 inches 40 Time: 4.53 Bench Press: 27 Reps Vertical Jump: 38.5 inches Broad Jump: 122 inches
As previously mentioned, Harry wasn’t projected to run well at the Combine. The fact that he did should have scouts revisiting his tape to more accurately project his draft stock. There are many things working in N’Keal Harry’s favor, including great receiving ability (strong hands, able to get to the ball at its highest point, able to catch balls in traffic, etc).
N’Keal Harry: the best wide receiver in the country pic.twitter.com/TavV8BU5h7— Harrison Klopp (@HarrisonKlopp) October 27, 2018
Upon first glance it may appear as if Harry does not possess the speed to breakaway from defenders. It gets to a point, though, where he is actually able to turn on the jets and get past the secondary to make a big play.
WHAT?!— CBS Sports (@CBSSports) December 29, 2017
HOW did N'Keal Harry come down with this ball? pic.twitter.com/2Zw3dxMURL
His ability to get downfield and go over the top is significant. This pass was a tad bit overthrown - which it probably needed to be - but Harry was still able to extend and pull the pass in.
Again, more proof (if you needed it) of Harry’s ability to make adjustments while the ball is in the air and pull it down for a big reception. San Francisco has sorely lacked a presence like this - especially in the red zone - so having him line up opposite Dante Pettis would go a long way in the offense improving like many think it can in 2019.
At the end of the day, it’s evident that N’Keal Harry has the competitive toughness needed to succeed at the next level. He sheds tacklers with ease and transitions into a blocker with effectiveness; he plays ready with the hands to punch and establish a hand fit on defensive backs. He also has an extremely high football IQ - he’s aware of his positioning on the field at all times, which makes it easier for him to make plays along the sideline. He has also shown a knack for being able to sell false steps to defenders before breaking into open space against off coverage.
Is He a Good Fit?
The question comes down to whether or not he would be a good fit for Kyle Shanahan’s offense. He projects favorably as a prototypical X-receiver as his size, sneaky speed, and contested catch skills give him the ability of defeating press coverage combine to offer an impressive package of traits, especially when considering the versatility Harry brings to an offense as a RAC receiver, deep threat and as a red-zone target. Lining up opposite Dante Pettis and George Kittle could potentially put this offense over the top and into the wild card conversation.
What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!