N'Keal Harry has been a disappointment for the New England Patriots. There's no other way to say it.
The Patriots selected the Arizona State product at the end of the first round in the 2019 NFL Draft, and he has failed to meet expectations with his second pro season nearing completion.
Harry has tallied 29 receptions for 277 yards with two touchdowns in 11 games this season. These aren't the stats Patriots fans were hoping to see from Harry, especially as several of the wideouts drafted after him -- including D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Mecole Hardman, etc. -- have improved in 2020.
What's to blame for Harry's struggles in Year 2? His trainer, Rischad Whitfield, is putting some of the blame on Patriots quarterback Cam Newton.
“We’ve got a new quarterback. We’ve got to put some of that (expletive) on Cam,” Whitfield told Harry McKenna of Patriots Wire. “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.”
For what it's worth, Whitfield claims he was misquoted.
There are several reasons why Harry is not flourishing in his second season. A lot of them are on Harry, but it's not totally unfair to put a small amount of the blame on Newton.
It's no secret that Newton has struggled throughout the season, particularly of late. He's thrown for just 272 yards with one passing touchdown and three interceptions in the last three games combined.
The Patriots as a team rank 29th in passing yards, 29th in QB rating and 32nd in touchdown passes entering Week 15.
Even though Newton has not played at a high level on a consistent basis, Harry still needs to play a lot better.
According to Brian Phillips of SB Nation's Pats Pulpit, Harry's percentage of targets that were catchable is 73.8 so far in 2020, compared with 76.7 percent last year when Tom Brady was throwing him the ball. So, not a huge difference at all between Brady and Newton.
Harry is the No. 3 wideout on the depth chart, and that's with Julian Edelman missing most of the year due to injury. If Harry doesn't show some meaningful improvement over the final three games of the regular season, a strong case could be made that the Patriots should just move on and find a different option at wide receiver.