In the thick of the latest reports that teams are calling the Patriots with interest in trading for wide receiver N’Keal Harry, it got me thinking, is N’Keal Harry on a path to be the next Aaron Dobson?
According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, multiple teams have reached out to New England about the chances of them being willing to trade their former first-round pick.
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) March 10, 2021
“N’Keal Harry, an interesting name that keeps popping up when you start to talk to people around the league,” Garafolo said. “My understanding is that teams have been calling the Patriots to see if maybe they’d be willing to part with Harry, the last pick in the first round two years ago. Has not gotten off to the start that both sides envisioned in New England, so teams are checking in there because he is that big-body type of receiver. So maybe some untapped talent that teams feel like, ‘Maybe if he comes and joins us, we’ll be able to tap into that.’ So an interesting guy to watch here as we get into the start of the league year and maybe a little bit further, as we get closer to the draft. Because there’s going to be a lot of moving parts in New England. There’s always a lot of moving parts in New England. But particularly this year, so we’ll see if Harry maybe lands somewhere else via trade in the coming weeks and months really.”
There was also a report made that both the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals showed some interest in Harry. The 49ers do make sense because they were very interested in drafting Harry back in 2019.
So with that being said, let’s just take a look at both player’s situations.
Dobson was the No. 59 overall pick in the 2013 Draft. In three seasons and 24 games, Dobson compiled just 53 catches for 698 yards and four touchdowns.
Harry was the No. 32 overall pick in the 2019 Draft. In two seasons and 21 games, Harry compiled just 45 catches for 414 yards and four touchdowns.
According to a report in 2016 from TheMMQB’s Albert Breer, New England was “shopping” wide receiver, Aaron Dobson.
The Patriots have been shopping 2013 2nd-round pick Aaron Dobson, per sources. With 128 snaps played this August, plenty of tape on the WR.
— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) August 30, 2016
Sound familiar? So not only were both players early-round busts with similar disappointing stats and on-field performances, but they were also the subject of trade talks. In both situations, you can see that Belichick is/was looking to try and get a draft pick.
Dobson Injury History
In Dobson’s rookie year, he sprained his foot in a Week 12 matchup against the Denver Broncos. He ended up missing the next three games as the Patriots were being cautious with the injury. Even though Dobson did return to the lineup in week 16, his misfortune continued in the last game of the season against the Buffalo Bills. In that game, Dobson made an early first-quarter exit because of a foot injury. Overall, Dobson appeared in 12 games during his rookie season with nine starts. He finished the season with 519 receiving yards and four touchdowns.
The 2014 season was basically a disaster for Dobson. He was inactive for eight of the first twelve weeks. He caught a measly three receptions before injuring his hamstring against the Green Bay Packers in Week 13. The Patriots placed Dobson on injured reserve on December 4, 2014.
Dobson was active for the week one opener against the Steelers on September 10, 2015. He did not see a ton of game action though. He only caught one pass for nine yards. Regrettably, in a Week 11 matchup against the Buffalo Bills, he suffered another injury. The injury happened after catching a 17-yard pass from Tom Brady. On that play, he suffered a high ankle sprain. A few days later, on November 26, the Patriots placed him on injured reserve, ending his season. That would also be the end of Dobson’s career with the Patriots.
Harry Injury History
Much like Dobson, Harry’s rookie season did not get off to a great start. He was limited to just three offensive snaps before being placed on injured reserve with an ankle injury he suffered during the Patriots’ preseason game against the Detroit Lions. Two days earlier, he pulled up hobbling with a right leg/hamstring injury in a joint session with the Lions. That injury cost Harry nine games. The Patriots activated Harry off injured reserve on November 2nd.
In 2020 Dobson did get a lot more playing time. In fact, he even stayed relatively healthy outside of suffering a concussion in a Week 7 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers. He appeared queasy after a big hit over the middle and entered concussion protocol. He would miss the next two games. The rest of 2020 was not overly impressive. Harry and Brady never got on the same page, and it was clear Brady did not trust Harry because he struggled with drops at times.
It remains unclear what the ultimate outcome will be with Harry. It does appear that New England is on the verge of giving up on Harry though. The fact his name is mentioned in trade talks alone suggests that the Patriots are willing to move on. The tough part for Bill Belichick is that people across the league already know the Patriots are giving up on Harry, so he is not going to get much in return. If New England can’t find a dance partner, it is quite possible that Harry ends up getting cut in training camp. If you think back to 2016, the Patriots cut Dobson right before the start of the regular season. Of course, if the Patriots end up cutting Harry, they would have to make sure they find a suitable replacement.
–Kevin Tame Jr. is a Staff Writer for Full Press Coverage Sports Media and covers the New England Patriots. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Tame