Following a disappointing 2017 campaign, Arizona State parted ways with head football coach Todd Graham and ended up hiring former NFL head coach Herm Edwards -- a decision that benefitted top wide receiver prospect N’Keal Harry perhaps more than anyone.
“[Edwards] prepared me for this moment, he prepared me to be right here talking to you guys,” Harry told reporters during his press conference at the NFL Combine in March. “He really has done a great job with the program, he made the transition extremely smooth. That’s someone I’m very thankful for.”
Edwards and Harry met frequently once Edwards began his Sun Devils' tenure in December of 2017, discussing how Harry should conduct himself as he continued his journey towards achieving his lifelong dream of making the NFL.
“He just kept it real with me, always,” Harry said. “He’s the exact same guy everybody saw on TV. He’s just like that 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
Take a look at photos from Friday March 2, 2019 at the 2019 NFL Scouting Combine. Photos from NFL.
After three seasons as one of the best wide receivers in the Pac-12, Harry declared for the 2019 NFL Draft, where he could be one of the first wideouts taken. Some NFL experts believe the Redskins will select Harry, mocking him to Redskins with the 15th-overall pick.
Harry put up numbers at Arizona State that would make him one of the best wide receivers in school history. He finished third in career receptions (213) and receiving yards (2,889) and fifth in touchdowns with 22. In 2017 and 2018, he earned first-team All-Pac-12 honors.
According to Kyle Crabbs of the Draft Network, Harry “projects favorably as a prototypical X-receiver in the NFL. Harry's size, contested catch ability and skills defeating press coverage combine to offer an impressive package of traits, especially when considering the versatility Harry brings to an offense as a RAC receiver, deep threat and as a red-zone target. Harry may require some time to further develop, but he has dominant traits.”
Harry understands there's room for improvement, too.
“There’s so many things I can get better at,” Harry said. “For me, it’s really just a lot of technique, working on my hands coming off the ball, the top of my routes -- things that I’ve been working on throughout this process.”
Harry has also shown versatility as a wide receiver, lining up both outside and in the slot. His move to slot receiver happened in his junior year, whne Edwards and offensive coordinator Rob Likens moved him around the field to expose mismatches in the secondary. Harry enjoys the slot because it allows him to run a multitude of different routes with additional space.
Playing on the outside is more about technique, Harry said, such as using his hands to disrupt press coverage and running crisp routes to create separation. These have also been points of emphasis for him during the draft process.
“I feel like I can play anywhere," Harry said. "For me to become an elite outside receiver in the NFL, I just have to work on my hands more, work on coming off the ball more. But I feel like wherever a team needs me to play, I can play and I can play at a high level.”
One of Harry’s biggest strengths has been his big-play ability. He's shown the speed to be a downfield threat and the elusiveness -- which he credits to his flag football days of constantly trying to juke defenders -- to make defenders miss after catching the ball in space.
Harry also credited his experience as a punt returner for making him more of a well-rounded threat. While he only returned 14 punts in college, he was able to rack up 165 return yards and had a go-ahead 92-yard return touchdown against USC this past year.