N'Keal Harry ready to replace Josh Gordon
Josh Gordon is back being suspended indefinitely by the NFL after another failed drug test. Knowing this, the New England Patriots used a first round pick to draft his replacement in the 2019 NFL draft. In selecting N’Keal Harry, he becomes the first receiver taken in the first round by the Patriots since Terry Glenn was taken seventh overall in 1996. He’s the highest selected receiver under Bill Belichick.
Traditionally under Belichick, the offense has consisted of the likes of Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman and company catching passes underneath, with a tight-end (or two) over the middle and a big speedy receiver over the top.
Last season, after acquiring him from the Cleveland Browns, Josh Gordon was that streaker over the top for the Patriots. Now, with his availability all but gone, that position will now go to Harry.
If we take a quick glance at the two receivers, we quickly realize that they have a lot alike. Harry is 6-foot-2 and 228 pounds with 4.53 speed and a vertical leap of 38.5 inches. Gordon is 6-foot-3, 225 pounds with 4.52 speed and a 36 inch vertical leap.
So for this article, we’ll use Gordon’s stats from a year ago within the Patriots’ offense in an attempt to find a projected stat line for Harry.
In 12 games last year on the Patriots, Gordon had 68 targets, 40 receptions for 720 yards and three touchdowns. If we were to remove his first and last games with the Patriots last season where he had little-to-no-action, he posted a stat line of 64 targets, 37 receptions for 669 yards and three touchdowns.
Using the 10 game sample size for Gordon, he would have gone for 102.4 targets, 59.2 receptions, 1070.4 yards and 4.8 touchdowns over 16 games.
Now, before we start tagging Gordon like numbers on Harry, let’s see how rookie receivers taken in the first round over the past five drafts have performed.
Since 2014, 20 wide receivers have been taken in the first round of the NFL Draft. Nine of those receivers, or 45%, have gone on to put up at least 29 receptions, 535 yards and two touchdowns (half of Gordon’s 2018 16-game projection) during their rookie year. If we are to exclude the 2014 draft, which is widely known as one of the best receiver classes in recent history, just four of the 15 receivers (27%) taken in the first round between 2015-2018 have posted such a stat line.
Breaking it down even further, five of the 10 receivers taken between picks 17-32 over the last five NFL Drafts have gone beyond the 29 receptions, 535 yards and two touchdowns mark.
Seven of the same 20 receivers (35%) have gone over 39 receptions, 707 Yards and three touchdowns (or 2/3rds of Josh Gordon’s 2018 16-game projection) during their rookie seasons. Again, if we exclude the 2014 draft, just three of 15 players (20%) have done it.
Four of the 20 receivers (20%) taken in the first round of the past five drafts have gone for more than 1,000 receiving yards during their rookie seasons, one (7%) if you exclude 2014.
History is not on Harry’s side to go beyond the three-quarters of Gordon’s 2018 16-game projection. However, reaching the halfway mark of the same feat seems possible.
Let’s give the man some credit, afterall he was the first ever first-round receiver taken by Belichick. With that being said, we’ll give him the three-quarters mark of Gordon’s 2018 season.
In doing so, Harry would have finished with 88.7 standard scoring points (WR52), 108.2 half point PPR points (WR53) and 127.7 PPR points (WR55).
Currently he is being selected on average as the 101st (WR42) pick on Yahoo and the 90th (WR36) pick on ESPN.
Be careful, don’t fall into the normal Patriots’ fantasy football hype trap as you can be disappointed in the production. Please note, this is strictly for redraft leagues. Harry needs to be selected early and often in dynasty formats.