The 2019 NFL draft has long been heralded as a wide receiver-heavy class for fantasy football fans. One player who has held the interest of many ‘Draft Twitter’ fans, as well as those in the devy community, is Arizona State standout N’Keal Harry.
Very few in the dynasty community can agree on which of the top incoming rookies should be your top pick in rookie drafts. Many feel that the NFL Combine in late February and the NFL draft will help to clarify which of the rookie wide receivers fans should be targeted first for their rookie drafts. DLF’s own Travis May recently started his Rookie Poll Mock and my personal favorite Harry came out on top for the 1.01.
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So I do these every year, but it’s time again for the earliest edition of the #2019RookiePollMock!
If your #FantasyFootball Rookie Draft started today who would be your first pick at 1.01?
— Travis May (@FF_TravisM) January 14, 2019
It’s still early but let’s see why Harry should hold that spot when rookie drafts roll around.
As a Recruit
N’Keal Harry arrived at Arizona State as a four-star recruit on 247sport, with a 0.9736 composite score, (just outside of being a five-star recruit), and a five-star recruit on Rivals. Out of Chandler High School in Arizona, Harry has long been one of the most highly-regarded wide receivers out from the 2016 recruiting class. As a senior in high school, he caught 13 touchdowns on 30 catches for 657 receiving yards.
Harry committed to nearby Arizona State University as part of their 2016 recruiting class. Harry was regarded on rivals as the 18th overall player in the 2016 class and their number one wide receiver. On 247sports, he was seen as their 53rd player overall and their seventh-ranked wide receiver.
Harry came in right away as a freshman and produced for the Sun Devils. As a freshman, he made the most receptions for the team, was second in receiving yards and produced the most receiving touchdowns.
Statistics from sports-reference.com.
In 2018, Harry added another dimension to his game when he made some contributions as a returner for the Sun Devils. Harry returned nine punts, including one for a touchdown. For the season, Arizona only had 22 total returns and Harry had the most yardage of the three players who returned punts for the Sun Devils.
PFF College graded out Harry with an 86.5 grade receiving grade for the 2018 season and had him with 515 yards after the catch (YAC) on the season. His 84.1 overall grade and was fourth overall and that YAC number put him in a tie for third in 2018.
Harry was the dominant wide receiver in the Sun Devil’s attack and the offense ran through him. Thanks to DLF’s Peter Howard, we have data that shows how he performed against competition in Market Share (yards) vs his peers. Harry has strong data that shows he is a top talent.
Harry has a sub-19-year-old breakout age since he posted a dominator rating over 20-percent during his freshman year. Dominator rating is the total percentage of a wide receiver’s total team receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. Any breakout age under 19 years old is typically considered phenomenal.
Can you name the quarterbacks who Harry has been attached to during his collegiate career? Manny Wilkins has spent the most time behind center as the quarterback for Arizona while Dillon Sterling-Cole and Brady White filled in during Harry’s freshman season. Harry doesn’t have the massive stats as some of the other wideouts in this year’s class, but the Arizona offense had numerous offensive issues during his time at school.
Measuring in at 6’4” and 213 pounds, Harry has that classic prototypical outside wide receiver frame that offensive coordinators and fantasy players search for. His strong frame and large physical size are tools that he utilizes to win jump balls.
Harry’s highlight film is filled with many of the traits that should help him excel in the NFL.
- Size – Prototype size as a big physical receiver.
- Physical Play Style – Yards after catch. Using his big frame to his advantage. Harry does a great job using his big body to box out smaller defenders at the catch point and his size to high point and attack jump balls.
- Ball tracking – Does standup job at tracking the ball in the air and adjusting to the ball as necessary.
- Run After Catch – Size and speed give him a rare ability to create explosive plays downfield by breaking arm tackles and being more physical after the catch than the smaller defenders covering him.
- Body control – Harry does a great job utilizing his size and frame to come down inbounds and in the end zone after the catch. This comes with solid sideline awareness to make the catch in tight contested spaces.
- Release – Some folks will knock Harry for his “separation”. I think that has more to do with quarterback play than Harry’s speed. He does have problems when facing press coverage and physical teams: his game against the University of Washington in 2018 and their defensive backs limited Harry to five catches for 20 yards. He did catch all five of his targets in this game, and again, has me believing this is more of an issue with surrounding cast and gameplan.
- Routes – Would like to see Harry continue to work his craft and become a better route runner. Does well in short areas. For a large receiver, he does well at sinking his hips coming in and out of breaks. This isn’t a knock on Harry, but rather a comment on how to see improvement and refinement in this part of his game.
- Inconsistency/Mindset – For his size/speed, I would have liked to see him play like more of an alpha.
Harry projects to be one of the first receivers taken in the 2019 NFL Draft. The Combine will be important for Harry. If he can run in the low 4.5s, expect him to be a day one pick. If his speed is more in the high 4.5-4.6 range, I could see him slip into day two and, crazy as it sounds, maybe even day three range.
Teams are targeting smaller, shiftier receivers who can work the slot and use their speed and route running to create separation. The NFL and offensive coordinators still look for that elite size/speed wide receiver who can create mismatches. Harry can be great in the red zone on back shoulder throws where he can take advantage of his frame to score touchdowns.
Harry is my top pick in this class. You don’t find many talents with his size and athletic ability. While not part of an elite offense, he was a college producer. Harry has the production and metrics you want to see in a top-tier player and, while watching on film, shows many of the traits that suggest he can become a prototypical outside receiver with the traits to work inside out of the slot at times.
As the earlier poll from Travis shows, you will likely have to spend an early rookie draft pick to land Harry in your rookie drafts.
Harry might not be the top wide receiver selected in April’s draft and my ranking of him could slip if he lands in a bad offense. However, fantasy owners should be excited if Harry lands in an up and coming offense and gets paired with an elite quarterback. Harry reminds me of a young Alshon Jeffery, and fantasy football fans should pay attention to where he lands.
Pete is a Western Washington University (Go Vikings! Undefeated at Football since 2009!) History grad with a doctorate in dynasty football, from a certificate he bought online. He prefers stats and analytics but realizes film grinding is an important part of the process. Dabbles in "Mild Takes" and believes in the process.
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