While some players from the 2019 NFL Draft try to avoid a sophomore slump heading into the 2020 season, others are simply still figuring out the game at the next level.
Former Arizona State Sun Devil N'Keal Harry is still figuring it out.
Harry, a first-round selection for the New England Patriots, played in just seven games during his rookie campaign due to injury, catching a mere 12 receptions for 105 yards and two touchdowns. When healthy, Harry displayed flashes of the dominant receiver he was at Arizona State. With a first-round label, you're expected to produce. When Bill Belichick selects you as the only receiver to be drafted that high during his tenure in New England, the expectations only rise.
The expectations for Harry heading into 2020 were simple: stay healthy and settle into your role as a receiver in the NFL. With the departure of Tom Brady and arrival of Cam Newton, some were skeptical as to how a young Harry would adapt. Upon Newton's arrival in New England, it became apparent that Harry was the man quickly making a connection with the newly acquired quarterback.
"I do know that Cam Newton has taken an interest in N'Keal Harry," Boston Sports Journal's Greg Bedard said on Tuesday. "He's really in Harry's ear. Cam sees him as similar to him, at the receiver position — don't try to be Julian Edelman, try to be a power forward. You're a power forward. Go be a power forward. So, that is happening."
Per reports, Harry's initial play in training camp didn't leave a lot to be desired. However, Harry has turned around his play significantly as of late.
"Though last year's first-round pick had a rough go of it when he got back on the field over the weekend, he was one of the team's best players in its most recent workout," said NBC Sports' Phil Perry.
"He made a really difficult back-shoulder catch in the 1-on-1 period with second-year corner Joejuan Williams all over him, finishing the catch as he twisted to the ground. That was a preview of his touchdown grab later in the morning when Newton found him in the end zone on a similar route.
Harry's frame and strong hands are clear when he's on the field and moving at top speed. He caught another touchdown on a slant with JC Jackson close in coverage, and he shrugged off Myles Bryant during a 1-on-1 rep where he looked like a varsity captain tossing aside a freshman."
With Julian Edelman manning slot receiver duties for New England, it appears Harry will be the go-to target for the Patriots on the outside. The former Sun Devil has reached a new level of play from the receiver he was a year ago, as 2020 looks to be a major bounce-back year for the ASU product.