Patriots ’20 Questions: Is N’Keal Harry in line for a Year 2 jump to become No. 1 receiver?

The Patriots are in the midst of the most interesting, important offseason in more than two decades. Tom Brady moved on to Tampa Bay. Bill Belichick remains in place with a veteran roster. There are plenty of questions and even more plentiful opinions regarding the defending AFC East champions. Over the next few weeks will ask and offer up answers to 20 of the most critical questions facing the 2020 Patriots.

Today’s question: Is N’Keal Harry in line for a Year 2 Jump to become Patriots No. 1 receiver?

Hannable: This is a two part answer for me. Yes, Harry is in line for a Year 2 jump, but I don't think it's enough to become a No. 1 wide receiver.

Harry seems to have put in a ton of work this offseason and is ready for a bounce back season. He was put in a tough spot last year when he missed the first half the season and was thrown right into the fire with Tom Brady as his quarterback once he returned from IR. He could be one of a few players who benefit from not having Brady around as there will not be as much pressure and Harry can just play his game.

Also, Cam Newton likes to take chances with his throws to allow his wide receivers to make plays and that is one area where Harry thrived in college. Now that the Patriots have a better idea of what Harry can do, some plays can be designed for him specifically and that is one of the reasons why we're expecting a much better 2020 season from the Arizona State product.

As for the No. 1 receiver part, I don't think he will ever get to that level. In my opinion his ceiling is a strong No. 2 receiver in the NFL. The expectations for him are probably higher than they should be given he was a first-round pick. Harry has the potential to have a solid NFL career, but not as a No. 1 wide receiver.

Hart: I’ll admit it, I’m very skeptical of Harry ever living up to his draft status and becoming a No. 1 NFL receiver. Or even a very good No. 2 option. I certainly don’t think that’s going to happen in 2020. Harry was the second receiver taken in last year’s talent-rich draft class but had a pretty miserable first season in New England. He landed on IR to open the year and was an inconsistent contributor when he found his way on the field over the second half of the season. In seven games played with five starts Harry caught just 12 passes for 105 yards with two touchdowns. He made a couple impressive singular plays, but just never found a consistent role in the Tom Brady-led passing attack.

Since his arrival in Foxborough I’ve had questions about Harry’s quickness. He apparently had the same questions because he’s reportedly worked tirelessly in that area this offseason. I also wonder about the consistency of his hands. While he’s quite capable of winning contested catches, he also showed a tendency for dropping some easy throws in training camp and limited game action. Harry needs to prove he can stay healthy, get open, catch the ball and play with consistency in 2020. That’s a lot to ask.

While he should be better this fall than he was a year ago – and theoretically may even curiously benefit from a change at quarterback – I find it hard to imagine that Harry is going to go from a disappointing afterthought to a consistently reliable playmaker in one year. I’d love to see him prove me wrong, though, because a huge Year 2 Jump from Harry would be a massive boost to a Patriots offense that faces a lot of questions in its own right this season.

Is N’Keal Harry in line for a Year 2 Jump to become Patriots No. 1 receiver?

— The Off Day (@OffDayPod) July 23, 2020