Emma: N’Keal Harry is latest among new, unproven Bears receivers to get chance to carve out a key role


(670 The Score) A first-round pick in 2019, receiver N’Keal Harry will now be associated with the seventh-round pick traded to acquire him.

That’s what the Bears have agreed deal to the Patriots, who were ready to part ways with the 24-year-old Harry. The trade, which was first reported by NFL Media on Tuesday, hasn't yet been made official. Harry never meshed with the great Tom Brady as a rookie in 2019, failed to establish chemistry with Cam Newton in 2020 and fell out of favor as rookie Mac Jones took over under center in New England in 2021. So future Hall of Fame coach Bill Belichick, who coveted Harry with the No. 32 overall pick in 2019, decided even a minimal return would be enough to make a deal.

Perhaps that can serve as motivation for Harry as he arrives in Chicago, where he'll be pushed by new Bears receivers coach Tyke Tolbert and asked to compete for his roster spot and role.

The Bears are looking to develop their roster for the future, and finding wide receivers who fit with quarterback Justin Fields is an important need. As top target Darnell Mooney looks to ascend to the next level, Chicago is also seeking complements at the position.

Harry is similar to Bears newcomers Equanimeous St. Brown, Byron Pringle, Dante Pettis and Tajae Sharpe in that each receiver has had fleeting success in their still-young careers but need to prove much more to carve out a consistent role. Bears general manager Poles and his brass see potential in how these receivers could fit with Fields' skill set and work alongside Mooney.

First, the receivers will compete in training camp for their roles. If that doesn’t reveal the best in Harry, he won’t be on the roster for the regular season.

At 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds, Harry is more than just a potential big target for Fields. He could also be an important presence for the team’s new outside-zone scheme on offense. It requires receivers who can hold their blocks on the edge. Harry posted an 84.8 run blocking grade on Pro Football Focus last season, which was the third-best mark among receivers with at least 100 run blocking snaps.

The Bears believe Harry has something more in store as his career progresses, which is why they made the low-risk trade to land him.

For his part, Harry has the chance to do something rare in the NFL -- prove Belichick wrong while rewarding his new team's belief.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago’s sports scene and more for 670TheScore.com. Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670.

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