Arizona Cardinals and N’Keal Harry are a dream fit, even without the Arizona ties
N’Keal Harry is more than just a fan favorite off the field; he’s a perfect fit with the Arizona Cardinals on the field.
In case you weren’t aware, N’Keal Harry is very familiar with Arizona. Raised in neighboring Chandler, Arizona, Harry idolized Larry Fitzgerald growing up, modeling his game after the Cardinals most beloved. He then played ball at Arizona State, in Tempe, Arizona, home of the Arizona Cardinals headquarters.
He’s an Arizona area fan favorite, and even he’s giddy about the thought of staying in his native state. As he told the press at the NFL Combine his thoughts of playing with the Cardinals and Larry Fitzgerald;
"That’s where I grew up, so that would end up being an extremely special moment for me — That would be amazing. Of course, he’s (Fitzgerald) a legend and there’s so much wisdom that he has so playing with a guy like that would benefit me extremely."
Short to say, Harry to the Arizona Cardinals would be a match made in Arizona football folklore heaven.
If the Cardinals draft Harry with presumably the 33rd pick (an appropriate range for him), it wouldn’t be just because of his familiarity with the organization and area around it. He would also fill a major team recurring team need; the X (primary) receiver position.
While the Cardinals do potentially have a building block in Christian Kirk, the outlook of the receiving group is a bit murky. Larry Fitzgerald will be back for the 2019 season, but it will likely be his last, which means the teams need at receiver is that much more glaring heading into the 2019 season. Cue N’Keal Harry, a receiver built solely to be a team’s first option.
The first thing that stands out about Harry is his size; he’s massive. At the combine, he measured in at 6-2 and 3/8ths, 228 pounds, with 9.5-inch hands, puzzling results to Harry considering he previously measured taller.
During the combine drills, Harry performed admirably as well, as he boasted a wide receiver record-tying 27 reps on the 225 bench press, posted a surprising 4.53 40-yard-dash time, had a broad jump of 10’2″, and showed off his vertical with an absurd 38″ vertical leap. All numbers that may push Harry to the first round in an already deep wide receiver class.
Of course, he’s more than his numbers, and that’s why I believe if he does get first-round grades, the Cardinals should move back up into the draft — for the right price of course.
As you can see in the clip above, he’s an ace on contested catches; he possesses good excellent ball tracking, body positioning, and strong hands; eerily similar to Larry Fitzgerald, and more recently, DeAndre Hopkins. Similar to the two previously mentioned, N’Keal doesn’t have the top end speed that teams covet, but he’s well built and has good functional athleticism. Which, in turn, make him strangely productive after the catch and on punt returns.
He isn’t afraid to run over the middle of the field and will give you effort while run blocking. Despite not being an explosive athlete, Harry is a somewhat refined vertical route-runner and has shown the ability to create separation on some inward, horizontal routes.
However, like with most draft prospects, there are concerns with Harry’s game. Most notably, he needs to improve on disconnected from pressing cornerbacks and doesn’t have an extensive route tree. Nobody best describes his deficiencies better than The Draft Networks Jonathan Ledyard, as he said of Harry;
"Needs to show more urgency off the line of scrimmage against off coverage, can be slow off the ball and doesn’t sell vertically with low pads. Can’t beat press corners off the ball with the burst that some of the other top receivers in the draft have — doesn’t drop his hips and explode back to the ball on those return routes. Upright route runner with some stiffness."
Ultimately, Harry’s weaknesses could help him slide to the Cardinals at the top of the second round. And while he does need to continue to develop, he’s not the same redundant complementary receiver the Cardinals have drafted over recent years.
Instead, he’s the star threat that defenses will have to gameplan around.