Foxborough, MA– For the first time since 1996, the New England Patriots have drafted a wide receiver in the first round of the NFL Draft. In the 1996 off-season, the Patriots selected Terry Glenn, a receiver from the Ohio State University, but have never prioritized that position again in the past 23 seasons. Instead, they took flyers on later round receivers, most of which would not pan out, and acquired targets through free agency and trades. Their best receiving pick in recent seasons, Rob Gronkowski, was a tight end drafted in the second round so he hardly counts.
But during this off-season, the Patriots recognized they were severely lacking at the receiver position due to the fact that the depth chart consists of Julian Edelman, Philip Dorsett, Demaryius Thomas, and then Braxton Berrios? Matthew Slater? Who's to say? Regardless, the Patriots needed a wideout. The question was simply: when would they take one?
That answer came in the final selection of the draft's first round, as the Patriots forewent their proclivity for drafting offensive linemen and key defensive players to instead continue their pattern of securing offensive talent early in the draft, like last season when they drafted Sony Michel, a running back from the University of Georgia.
It seems like the Patriots drafted an immense talent at the position, too: they selected wide receiver N'Keal Harry from Arizona State University. Harry is 6'3'' and 225 pounds, and he impressed at the combine with his stellar route running efficiency, a bench press record for wide receivers with 27, and an impressive 38.5 inch vertical leap. As a Sun Devil, Harry was on the Pac-12 first team twice and he racked up 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns.
Harry was projected to go much earlier in the draft and in a chaotic draft, the Patriots kept things mellow for their pick by securing a player who will undoubtedly help them in a sensible fashion. It's impressive that New England secured him and it is a testament to Bill Belichick's drafting ability. He seems to be an extremely overpowering and physically dominant wide receiver, and a player with this level of imposition will be a great addition for New England.