2020 Pats: Roster & Beyond (non-QB edition)

Shelterdog

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I think Harry is a solid #3 WR when all is said and done. I don't think he has the speed to be much more than that, which is obviously not worth the pick used to get him but still makes him a valuable piece. His main problem, aside from the injuries, is that the QB situation in NE is probably going to be a shit show for a while so we may never see his full potential here.
I think people are all wrong about Harry. His problem is not speed--he's actually pretty fast, you can see it on the Jets sweeps. Obviously there are a lot of guys at the position who are faster than he is but he's pretty big and almost exactly as fast at the combine in the 40 as Josh Gordon and Dez Bryant were when they came out at a pretty similar size (and he's faster than a Michael Irvin or Boldin was). His problem is that his technique and route running and physicality and "playing speed" don't match his physical gifts. The routes are always off a little or he's getting tangled up by a nobody cornerback pressing him or he's weirdly slowing up a bit after catching a ball getting ready to make a move or something else just a little off happens. Not sure if it's fixable -- I thought it was getting better out there and sometimes you do see him just go up in traffic and fucking rip it down--but Newton's been so shitty it's hard to judge.
 

Super Nomario

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I think people are all wrong about Harry. His problem is not speed--he's actually pretty fast, you can see it on the Jets sweeps. Obviously there are a lot of guys at the position who are faster than he is but he's pretty big and almost exactly as fast at the combine in the 40 as Josh Gordon and Dez Bryant were when they came out at a pretty similar size (and he's faster than a Michael Irvin or Boldin was). His problem is that his technique and route running and physicality and "playing speed" don't match his physical gifts. The routes are always off a little or he's getting tangled up by a nobody cornerback pressing him or he's weirdly slowing up a bit after catching a ball getting ready to make a move or something else just a little off happens. Not sure if it's fixable -- I thought it was getting better out there and sometimes you do see him just go up in traffic and fucking rip it down--but Newton's been so shitty it's hard to judge.
I agree with you that Harry's pretty fast, but he's not sudden. Even in college, you'd see him outrace defenders in the open field, but he wasn't bursty enough to blow past defenders at the line. He needs some ramp-up speed. And I agree with you on the other stuff; his game is pretty unrefined. It's night-and-day watching him and Jakobi Meyers; Meyers doesn't have the same physical gifts but the dude just knows how to get open.

Last year he looked great with the ball in his hands, even while his actual receiver skills were pretty terrible. This year, he's made some progress as a receiver, but he's not making tacklers miss. I would chalk that up to small sample size, but the team has stopped giving him the designed touches he was getting last year or in the first couple weeks, so maybe they think there's something there.
 
Apr 24, 2019
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What’s most frustrating to me, and I say this as someone with a less practiced and astute eye for these things, is that what I’m reading from you guys describes elements of football and athleticism that, while not necessarily clear as day, are detectable, I’d think, by professional football scouts. And correction, I don’t “think” they’re detectable, I know they are. Because so damn many scouts seemed to have detected them in the run up to the draft and in its aftermath.

N’Keal Harry doesn’t run routes well, doesn’t separate well, and lacks suddenness. We’ve known this for about as long as weve known about Harry. I hope he gets better, but that is close to infuriating, especially given how many alternatives there were that DO those things well, and in light of the fact that recent Patriots history shows us that those attributes work well in this offense.

Edit: typos and expansion.
 
Jan 30, 2017
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The lack of subtlety in necessary skill sets for Pats WR prospects is one of the more confusing things in sports. Anyone in the NFL is a tremendous athlete, but the Pats consistency in finding great athletes that are bad WRs points to something, right?

I remember the Bill and Bill documentary that aired not too long ago and Parcells said something along the lines of BB having the advantage of seeing so many generations of players that he looks for traits that they were able to utilize towards success in the past as they build their team. Have the changes in offense, scheme, rules, etc, passed BB, and the grand scouting manifesto that’s often talked about, by?
 

Super Nomario

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The lack of subtlety in necessary skill sets for Pats WR prospects is one of the more confusing things in sports. Anyone in the NFL is a tremendous athlete, but the Pats consistency in finding great athletes that are bad WRs points to something, right?

I remember the Bill and Bill documentary that aired not too long ago and Parcells said something along the lines of BB having the advantage of seeing so many generations of players that he looks for traits that they were able to utilize towards success in the past as they build their team. Have the changes in offense, scheme, rules, etc, passed BB, and the grand scouting manifesto that’s often talked about, by?
I don't think there's a systemic scouting issue here. The Patriots' draft record with WR is not that far off average when you add up all the numbers. They've generally done well identifying free agent fits. They've drafted effective pass catchers at the other positions well, notably Gronk and Hernandez at TE and Vereen and James White at RB. So I don't think they can't evaluate receiving talent or Belichick doesn't understand what wins in pass-catching.

They have de-emphasized the position, however, historically and currently. They traded Branch and Moss and Cooks when they got expensive, let Welker walk when he got pricey, didn't bring back Stallworth and Brandon Lloyd even when they were reasonably productive, etc. And they don't draft many at the position - famously, they were the last team to pick a first-round WR this millennium, and that was pick 32. Teams like the Steelers and 49ers throw a mid-round pick at the position virtually every year; the Pats don't. Where I think Belichick has fallen behind a bit is misreading the market; he picked up Welker for a song back in the day, but now Adam Humphries goes for $9 MM a year so those FA bargains are a lot harder to come by.
 

RedOctober3829

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They need to be using Harry like the 49ers are using Deebo and Aiyuk and how the Panthers are using Curtis Samuel. More jet sweeps, line him up in the backfield and give him the ball, get him in motion and drag him across the formation, etc. They are shoe horning him into a role he's just not very good at by using him outside. Get him in motion and give him the ball.
 

BigSoxFan

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They need to be using Harry like the 49ers are using Deebo and Aiyuk and how the Panthers are using Curtis Samuel. More jet sweeps, line him up in the backfield and give him the ball, get him in motion and drag him across the formation, etc. They are shoe horning him into a role he's just not very good at by using him outside. Get him in motion and give him the ball.
Which is pretty much how they used him last year. You'd think it would be more effective this year with the threat of a Cam run.
 

Garshaparra

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They need to be using Harry like the 49ers are using Deebo and Aiyuk and how the Panthers are using Curtis Samuel. More jet sweeps, line him up in the backfield and give him the ball, get him in motion and drag him across the formation, etc. They are shoe horning him into a role he's just not very good at by using him outside. Get him in motion and give him the ball.
"Get him outside" is not a terrible idea, but forgets a key problem. We've seen sweeps work with Edelman, White and even Zuber. What may be forgotten though is that the two blockers outside are the tight end and wide receiver. Harry is often that blocker, and he's really good at it - fearless blocking in space, using his exceptional size. If he's sweeping, who's blocking? Byrd? Edelman? They can do it, but they're much smaller and less effective. We've seen effectiveness from Izzo, but he's no Kittle at the end of the line as a blocker.
 

Saints Rest

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I don't think there's a systemic scouting issue here. The Patriots' draft record with WR is not that far off average when you add up all the numbers. They've generally done well identifying free agent fits. They've drafted effective pass catchers at the other positions well, notably Gronk and Hernandez at TE and Vereen and James White at RB. So I don't think they can't evaluate receiving talent or Belichick doesn't understand what wins in pass-catching.

They have de-emphasized the position, however, historically and currently. They traded Branch and Moss and Cooks when they got expensive, let Welker walk when he got pricey, didn't bring back Stallworth and Brandon Lloyd even when they were reasonably productive, etc. And they don't draft many at the position - famously, they were the last team to pick a first-round WR this millennium, and that was pick 32. Teams like the Steelers and 49ers throw a mid-round pick at the position virtually every year; the Pats don't. Where I think Belichick has fallen behind a bit is misreading the market; he picked up Welker for a song back in the day, but now Adam Humphries goes for $9 MM a year so those FA bargains are a lot harder to come by.
I agree with the opening sentence of your final paragraph, with the emphasis on historically. BB always has held to the philosophy of building from the middle out, on both offense and defense. Paying big bucks to Revis for one year and more recently to Gilmore were exceptions. But they've never really paid big bucks for WRs, other than when Welker was making franchise tag money.

I think your final paragraph is finding connective tissue in the position those guys play, rather than in the modus operandi of the BB Patriots. There is a long line of players that the Pats let go/sent packing when their price exceeded their production (as opposed to just got expensive): Milloy, Mankins, Seymour, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins v1, et al.

Even some of the players you list might not fit the arguments you make:
  • Moss got shipped out -- arguably -- because he was becoming Brady's go-to guy (for whatever reason) thereby impacting the offense. OTOH, BB might have seen Moss' imminent end. (He only caught 9 of his 22 targets for the Pats, and ended his career after that season ended with 28 catches for 393 yards.)
  • Stallworth. Had a great season as #3 in 2007 for the Pats, but was pretty awful for the awful Browns the next year, with only 17 catches for 170 yards.
  • Cooks wanted to get paid as a top guy, which he probably wasn't worth.
  • Welker did get the aforementioned franchise tag money. But it's hard to argue that BB didn't let him go at precisely the right time in his career.
  • Lloyd is another guy who did next to nothing once he left the Pats so again it's hard to argue that BB didn't let him go at the right time.
For many years, the Pats managed to turn journeyman-level WRs into at least solid, productive, players, and in some cases, stars. Patten, Welker, Stallworth, Gaffney, Hogan, Amendola, LaFell, Lloyd. But they've swung and missed on those types lately: Dorsett, Sanu, Byrd, Patterson (as a receiver). Not to mention all those cast-offs who never even played any meaningful minutes: Britt, Collie, Cinco Ocho, etc.
 

DJnVa

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N’Keal Harry doesn’t run routes well, doesn’t separate well, and lacks suddenness.
What are we basing his lack of "separation" on?

Per NFL NextGen stats, he gets as much separation as Keenan Allen, Davante Adams, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandin Cooks, CeeDee Lamg, Brandon Aiyuk, and Calvin Ridley. And more than Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, AJ Brown, Kenny Golladay, and Adam Thielen.

Now, I'm not saying you're wrong, but the NFL has "separation" numbers. If you want to say he's not good at it, can you tell me what you are basing it on?
 

tims4wins

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What are we basing his lack of "separation" on?

Per NFL NextGen stats, he gets as much separation as Keenan Allen, Davante Adams, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandin Cooks, CeeDee Lamg, Brandon Aiyuk, and Calvin Ridley. And more than Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, AJ Brown, Kenny Golladay, and Adam Thielen.

Now, I'm not saying you're wrong, but the NFL has "separation" numbers. If you want to say he's not good at it, can you tell me what you are basing it on?
Isn’t that only tracked on catches? And couldn’t it be easily skewed by rubs etc.?
 

Super Nomario

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I think your final paragraph is finding connective tissue in the position those guys play, rather than in the modus operandi of the BB Patriots. There is a long line of players that the Pats let go/sent packing when their price exceeded their production (as opposed to just got expensive): Milloy, Mankins, Seymour, Chandler Jones, Jamie Collins v1, et al.
Absolutely ... but the difference with WR is that they've never paid a WR market price. They didn't pay Milloy, but they gave Devin McCourty a huge extension. They traded Mankins eventually, but first they gave him a massive deal for a guard (Shaq Mason also got paid). Seymour and Wilfork got big contracts at DT. Collins didn't get paid but Dont'a Hightower did. There are examples of them cutting bait on expensive guys at every position, but there's no example of them paying a big deal for a wideout. The two positions where they've consistently underinvested relative to the rest of the league are WR and edge rusher.

For many years, the Pats managed to turn journeyman-level WRs into at least solid, productive, players, and in some cases, stars. Patten, Welker, Stallworth, Gaffney, Hogan, Amendola, LaFell, Lloyd. But they've swung and missed on those types lately: Dorsett, Sanu, Byrd, Patterson (as a receiver). Not to mention all those cast-offs who never even played any meaningful minutes: Britt, Collie, Cinco Ocho, etc.
They had plenty of swings and misses in the past, too: Joey Galloway, Donald Hayes, Doug Gabriel, Andre' Davis. But this is also pretty consistent with just about every position. They're happy to add a bunch of Shea McClellins to get one Kyle Van Noy. The issue lately is that they've relied on those castoffs at WR and been seemingly unprepared when none of them panned out.
 

DJnVa

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Isn’t that only tracked on catches? And couldn’t it be easily skewed by rubs etc.?
Yes. But it's going to be skewed for everyone.

So if we want to say he can't get separation it's seems fair to ask the poster to support that.
 

tims4wins

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Yes. But it's going to be skewed for everyone.

So if we want to say he can't get separation it's seems fair to ask the poster to support that.
I agree we need support, but it's such a tough thing to support (in both ways) unless you start charting every route
 

Saints Rest

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Absolutely ... but the difference with WR is that they've never paid a WR market price. They didn't pay Milloy, but they gave Devin McCourty a huge extension. They traded Mankins eventually, but first they gave him a massive deal for a guard (Shaq Mason also got paid). Seymour and Wilfork got big contracts at DT. Collins didn't get paid but Dont'a Hightower did. There are examples of them cutting bait on expensive guys at every position, but there's no example of them paying a big deal for a wideout. The two positions where they've consistently underinvested relative to the rest of the league are WR and edge rusher.


They had plenty of swings and misses in the past, too: Joey Galloway, Donald Hayes, Doug Gabriel, Andre' Davis. But this is also pretty consistent with just about every position. They're happy to add a bunch of Shea McClellins to get one Kyle Van Noy. The issue lately is that they've relied on those castoffs at WR and been seemingly unprepared when none of them panned out.
Wasn't Moss' 3/$27M contract pretty close to market? Or Welker's year on the franchise tag? And other than those two, were there any others who deserved the big money? I don't think Branch or Cooks did, and they were the only two who got traded due to money reasons only.

My point is that the GM strategy/approach toward WR's hasn't changed since BB came here. The change has been in the success rate of that strategy -- both drafting and FA. And as I said earlier, I have to think that position coach input isn't getting nearly enough consideration.
 

Super Nomario

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Wasn't Moss' 3/$27M contract pretty close to market? Or Welker's year on the franchise tag? And other than those two, were there any others who deserved the big money? I don't think Branch or Cooks did, and they were the only two who got traded due to money reasons only.
Moss wasn't too far off, but it was a lower AAV than either of his previous two contracts even though he was coming off a monster year. They got a bargain there. Welker on the franchise tag is a fair point, but of course that's a limited time commitment.

The other piece here is that they've invested less in draft capital at WR than any other team (definitely true pre-Harry ... my suspicion is that it is still true, but maybe they have jumped to like 29th or something). So when you ask "were there any others who deserved the big money?", no, there weren't, but that doesn't contradict my point. They haven't drafted enough WR to have many worth signing to a big second deal. It's an overall approach to the position that suggests they value WR less than just about anyone else.

My point is that the GM strategy/approach toward WR's hasn't changed since BB came here. The change has been in the success rate of that strategy -- both drafting and FA. And as I said earlier, I have to think that position coach input isn't getting nearly enough consideration.
I agree the approach has not changed. The success rate might be a little less, but there's a tremendous noise-to-signal ratio here that makes it hard to tell whether there's anything there. The other factor that I think is important is that the market league-wide has changed. The Pats got values on slot guys because other teams just did not value the position. But now 30 or so teams are running 11 as their dominant personnel grouping, so they need a quality slot and 3-4 quality WRs overall. The Adam Humphries and Albert Wilsons that the Patriots might have scooped up for a song a decade back are signing deals worth $8-$9 MM a year now. The approach might need to change to reflect the changing market.
 

bakahump

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Which is pretty much how they used him last year. You'd think it would be more effective this year with the threat of a Cam run.
Which is pretty much how they used Cord Patterson.

I thought that was the intention when they drafted, him as a Patterson replacement (immediately) with the upside of developing into a bit better receiver the Cordarrelle.
 

bakahump

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We have mentioned it for years but Brady was able to "elevate" Mediocre WRs to Good and Good to Great and HOFs to Otherworldly.
Was he able to elevate bad to good? No. So there are certainly some bombs there. Both in FA and in the draft.

Now without the GOAT QB we need alot more talent at WR. BB must realize that and will adjust.
 
Apr 24, 2019
721
What are we basing his lack of "separation" on?

Per NFL NextGen stats, he gets as much separation as Keenan Allen, Davante Adams, Emmanuel Sanders, Brandin Cooks, CeeDee Lamg, Brandon Aiyuk, and Calvin Ridley. And more than Terry McLaurin, DK Metcalf, Stefon Diggs, Mike Evans, Julio Jones, AJ Brown, Kenny Golladay, and Adam Thielen.

Now, I'm not saying you're wrong, but the NFL has "separation" numbers. If you want to say he's not good at it, can you tell me what you are basing it on?
I could be wrong, but I’m basing it on what feels very much like every single scouting report we read before the draft, the conventional wisdom and reporting since the draft, and the fact that when I watch the games Harry appears to have a very hard time getting open.

edit: here are a few examples of pre draft evaluations of Harry separating

https://www.cbssports.com/nfl/draft/news/nkeal-harry-nfl-draft-profile-everything-to-know-about-pro-day-measurements-strengths-team-fits/
https://www.walterfootball.com/scoutingreport2019nharry.php
https://thedraftnetwork.com/player/nkeal-harry
 
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DJnVa

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Completely fair.

But now we have some numbers that *might* say that's not really a thing, and I think we latch onto whatever we heard predraft and blame any struggles on that.
 

Captaincoop

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The Uche situation has been puzzling. He was running with the 1st defense in camp, all the way up to the last week. Then he didn't get even a look during a very uneven first 6 games for the defense.
 

SMU_Sox

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The Uche situation has been puzzling. He was running with the 1st defense in camp, all the way up to the last week. Then he didn't get even a look during a very uneven first 6 games for the defense.
Going to take a shot at this one. Uche was a bit raw in all aspects of his game coming out. He didn’t get a chance to shine behind guys like Wino and Bush for a couple years at Michigan. When I say raw I just mean he has some technique fine-tuning on things like rushing the passer. Using hands better to shed blocks. He was inconsistent with setting an edge. He had coverage reps and looked surprisingly good in them when he was in phase on coverage but had some issues before the pass was thrown. He didn’t have a ton of reps as a ILB which is where he’s going to play.

So I think because of his injury but also because of what kind of a role they want him to play (ILB/OLB) and combined with his lack of experience and needing technique refinement in some areas that’s why you have a delay in his development. I’m pumped to see him hopefully play today.
 

mcpickl

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The Uche situation has been puzzling. He was running with the 1st defense in camp, all the way up to the last week. Then he didn't get even a look during a very uneven first 6 games for the defense.
He got hurt in practice before the Seattle game, and was put on IR the next week.
 

Ferm Sheller

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The video is available, you just need to clink the link that takes you to it on YouTube (which I'd never do because that would mean leaving SoSH).
 

Harry Hooper

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Maybe a reference to not being traded? Is an extension happening now?
 

Van Everyman

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Bedard:

Gilmore’s absence seems to be an issue: Stephon Gilmore, who tweaked his knee in practice on Oct. 30th, missed another game despite practicing this week and initially being deemed a “minor” injury according to reports. Something seems amiss here. After leaving training camp and later getting a $5 million raise, Gilmore put his house on the market and set the trade deadline as the time offers had to be made. When the Patriots didn’t trade him, it seems like that was a disappointment for the reigning Defensive Player of the Year and this could be him acting out. Gilmore, who will be 31 early next season, has been trying to get a contract extension since the summer. He knows the Patriots aren’t going to give him one.
https://www.bostonsportsjournal.com/2020/11/15/bsj-game-report-patriots-23-ravens-17-harris-rushes-121-yards-meyers-throws-td-pass-upset/
 

Harry Hooper

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Bedard on 98.5 saying it's time to release Izzo, Olszewsky...and Harry.