Our NFL rookie profile series continues with this analysis of 2019 NFL Draft Prospect N’Keal Harry, WR Arizona State. You can also check out all of our NFL Draft Prospect articles here. We will continue to provide you with these in-depth rookie profiles and a ton of other fantasy football rookie analysis right up through the NFL Draft. Stay tuned, and stay ahead of your league!
I happen to disagree with the consensus on this draft class. Shocking I know. Still, while I think there is strong potential, I don’t think it is very deep in “good” for fantasy wide receivers. I’m going to be extra high on the players I like, and extra low on the ones I don’t. This class reminds me most of 2013, where the highs are very good, and the lows are… well… hopefully forgettable.
So, let’s dive into my favorite player in the 2019 class: N’Keal Harry
There has been a lot of talk about ceiling and floor potential this year. So, let me say this very clearly. Harry is the only player in this draft with a production profile that matches, meets, and sometimes exceeds the top-level producers in the NFL since 2000. There is no one in this draft class who has a similar production profile and compares to top-level players well outside of Harry.
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Statistics from sports-reference.com.
Harry broke out at the very start of his career in Arizona at the age of 18 when he had 22% of the team’s receptions, 21% of the teams receiving yards and 31% of the team’s receiving touchdowns. His numbers continued to increase as his experience and physical skill grew. His average dominator rating (combined percentage of receiving yards and touchdowns) was 34% – a figure almost equal to both DK Metcalf (14%) and Hakeem Butler’s (24%) average dominator ratings put together.
This graph is based on my own database keeping track of College Market Share since 2000.
Based on my pre-draft wide receiver model, Harry is head and shoulders above this entire draft class. The difference between him and his nearest competitor in production (depending on what stats you like better) is more than twice the difference between DJ Moore and Calvin Ridley in 2018.
I’d be a fool to think that scouts (fantasy and NFL alike) were not seeing a concerning lack of upside. However, I think the same could be said of players like Keenan Allen, Jarvis Landry, Doug Baldwin, and Cooper Kupp. They still do plenty for your fantasy rosters in the NFL.
In short, and as we saw in my recent series on past Production Patterns of NFL draft classes, college production does a poor job of ranking players upside. As such, I can accept Harry’s ceiling may well be his biggest weakness. However, again, he’s still the only player who compares well to those in the NFL with a higher ceiling.
Based on tape evaluation, Harry has been described as someone with a lower floor than more “typical” size/speed receivers. However, when was the last time you looked at the best receivers in the NFL and thought: “those guys are all over 6’3” tall and run sub 4.4-second 40-time”? When has that ever been true?
The one thing we can guarantee about the best wide receivers in the NFL is that they are all outliers. So few players are able to hit, that doing it makes them so by definition. Those who get there do not share many traits – neither speed times nor size. One thing they do share is high levels of college production (see above).
Harry’s athletic testing seems to bare his lower floor out, however, even though of the drills he took part in he managed to cross the most common thresholds for the NFL-level player.
In fact, his burst, based on his jumping drills, seems to be a significantly positive note on his profile. And at 6’2” tall and running a 4.53 40, Harry’s height-adjusted speed score (110.7) ranks him above Will Fuller, Kenny Golladay, and Larry Fitzgerald among others.
Harry’s expectation is, of course, largely landing-spot dependent. Even still, I think he has top-12 upside in the NFL. But at least one top-24 PPR season is my baseline expectation. He profiles similarly to DJ Moore. However, given we know Moore’s (positive) landing spot and draft capital combined with the fact we have seen him do well enough in the NFL in his rookie season, Harry has to be ranked under him.
Long-term, wide receivers tend to hold their value through at least the first two off-seasons. Players like DeVante Parker – who has missed his most likely breakout window in the NFL – still hold higher value (though not much) than those who were not first-round prospects.
As such I think Harry – so long as he’s drafted reasonably in the 2019 NFL Draft – will hold value as a fringe top-24 value at the position for quite some time.
I struggle with NFL comparisons. To begin with, I fear they suggest prediction instead of any real measure of the “type” of player someone may be. So to find a reasonable way of doing it, I lean their production profile.
By weighting the production a player has at each age by the value it has for predicting NFL success, I created something for myself I refer to as “Production Score.” In essence, it is age-adjusted college production weighted by the predictive power of the age in which each player earned that production.
Based on this value (and keeping it to only players who have had a top-24 season so the comparison stays exciting), Harry profiles somewhere between Amari Cooper and Keenan Allen. Based on the tape I have watched, and the film evaluations I have read, I think a fair expectation of his likely NFL upside and role in the NFL.
He should be the first wide receiver off the board in every draft. However, there is stiff competition this year based on “take your guy” makeup of the draft class as a whole. Not to mention some dynasty players’ preference for athletic testing and other factors. However, I wouldn’t expect to get him outside of the first two picks in any rookie draft.
The best case scenario for N’Keal Harry is to be drafted in the first round, of course. However, as long as he is taken in the top three rounds, my expectations will remain high. The further down the draft a player falls, in general, the longer it can take for them to gain enough opportunity to break out. However, prospects with high levels of college production are also the most likely to break this trend. All in all, I would be prepared for a three-year wait (the period when most good NFL wide receivers breakout) before being able to decide if Harry has hit or bust.
That being said, there is obviously upside in the right landing spot. I would rather a player be drafted by the San Francisco 49ers right now in the second round than the Buffalo Bills in the first round based on my expectations for the team’s overall success, and the number of opportunities a player will have to score points there.
The most promising landing spots with a need at the wide receiver position in my opinion right now are:
- New York Jets
- San Francisco 49ers
- Washington Redskins
Teams that would give me some pause, despite their apparent need at the position:
- New York Giants
- Buffalo Bills
- Baltimore Ravens
But I’ll likely have him as the WR1 no matter where he goes, so long as there is not a major surprise and he falls outside the first three rounds.
Thanks for checking this out, and good luck in your drafts.
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