N'Keal Harry has been a massive bust of a draft pick for the New England Patriots. The 2019 first-rounder has accumulated all of 41 catches for 382 yards and four touchdowns in 18 career games. He's okay at catching contested balls, but otherwise can't do much. Hell, most of the time it feels like he's a glorified fullback out there. This year, Harry has caught only 29 passes for 277 yards, numbers that rank 130th and 143rd in the NFL, respectively. He's scored twice in 11 games played.
Harry's trainer, Rischad Whitfield, is not so convinced that his client is entirely at fault for his poor production so far in his career. In an interview with USA Today's Henry McKenna, Whitfield said that Cam Newton is at least in part responsible for Harry's tough year, and if he had Tom Brady, Brady would be feeding Harry.
“We’ve got a new quarterback. We’ve got to put some of that (expletive) on Cam,” Whitfield said. “Cam hasn’t been the most accurate this year. Like if (N’Keal) had Tom Brady, Tom Brady would’ve fed him. But we’re back there with Cam and Cam’s getting acclimated to the offense, too.” Whitfield added: “It’s a big deal coming from Tom Brady to Cam Newton. … That’s one of Cam Newton’s biggest issues is mechanics.”
It is worth noting that Whitfield felt he was misquoted by McKenna. McKenna stands by his reporting.
Hmm. What would Harry look like if future Hall of Famer Tom Brady was throwing him the ball? Would he, in fact, feed him?
Ah, yes. Right. We already know the answer. Because it happened. Last year. With Brady throwing the ball, Harry averaged 3.4 targets per game. When Newton is under center, Harry is averaging 4.5 targets per game. Harry was hurt for much of his rookie season and Brady notoriously doesn't trust rookie wideouts, but it's not like Newton isn't looking his way. He's actually doing so more often than Brady did.
Harry could still turn it around. He's still only in his second year. But a lack of production between two quarterbacks, one of whom is still playing at an elite level, speaks more to what he can't do than what the pieces around him cannot or will not do. And as everybody in Boston has figured out, wondering what Tom Brady would be doing if he still lived in the chilly Northeast is a useless exercise for everyone involved.