"Success has many fathers. But failure is an orphan." - JFK, taking the blame for the Bay of Pigs fiasco.
I've already stated the obvious, that drafting N'Keal Harry with the 32nd pick in 2019 is the worst personnel decision in Bill Belichick's incomparable career. Prior to the decision to trade Harry to the Bears for a seventh rounder in 2024 (so approximately 500 picks from now), we could have a debate about which was the worst. Personally I'd go with taking Ras-I Dowling with the 33rd pick in 2011; your results may vary. But Harry's 57 receptions and 598 yards in three seasons has retired the trophy. (Hopefully.)
And with that Belichick is fair game right now. This is his kingdom. Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown. The buck stops here, and all that. There should be no doubt that if asked, he'll take the blame for this one. Especially given that he's given all the credit for the single best pick in sports history to quarterback's coach Dick Rehbein, who wasn't alive to see the scrawny kid from Michigan he lobbied for in 2000 start to become the GOAT in 2001.
So predictably, today is a pig pile, with Belichick at the bottom, and all the Captain Hindsights creating a snow-capped mountain of bodies on top of him. Which, to repeat, is fair. It comes with the territory.
What you're not entitled to do though, is repeat this fiction that somehow you, your brother, your dog, and every other draft expert in the world knew right away Harry was an outrageously terrible prospect, while Belichick and Belichick alone was under some spell that convinced him otherwise. Which is precisely what the Revisionist Historians are attempting to do. And I will not stand for it.
The 2019 draft ended up being a treasure trove of found wide receiver gold. But there was no consensus on who the best prospect was. In fact, if you go back through the prospect rankings, and the mocks, any one of about a half dozen guys names appear in no particular order, all going in the back half of the first through the end of the second. As it was, Harry was the second wideout taken, after only Marquise Brown (25th pick). Some pundits had Deebo Samuel (36th) rated as their best. A few had AJ Brown (51st). And quite a few liked DK Metcalf, who broke the Combine but still fell to 64th. Meaning every, single franchise had two cracks at him at passed, with the exception of Seattle.
This is where some of the major draft outlets ranked Harry among his peers, and what they had to say about him:
USA Today: 3rd. "The former Arizona State product creates huge plays, as he made Pac-12 cornerbacks look silly week in and week out. ... Overall, Harry has all the natural tools that translate to an X-receiver and become a big play wide receiver and red-zone threat in the NFL."
NFL.com: 3rd. "His experience playing inside should help and teams will love his impact as a run-blocker. His competitiveness and ability to come down with the ball could make him a productive member of wide receiver trio in short order."
Sporting News: 2nd. "At 6-4, 216 pounds, Harry is a matchup nightmare through the red zone. He also can be a strong deep threat."
SI: 4th. "It's ... hard to ignore the strength, body control, competitiveness and knack for making late adjustments downfield that made Harry a force at the collegiate level."
ESPN: 4th. "Harry competes for the ball, knows how to shield defenders and runs quality routes."
And if you'll pardon the garbage quality of the video, here was the instant reaction of Pats fans and the ESPN panel when the pick came in. See if you can spot the sad faces and grave concerns raised at the time. Because I missed them:
So I'm not about to sit here quietly in my drunken stupor and say nothing while everyone gets to pretend they saw N'Keal Harry's bustiness (not the proper use of the term, but I'm sticking with it) before it happened. As a matter of fact, the one guy you can find who was really leaning into the concerns about Harry before the draft was this guy:
Unless I’m missing somebody, Harry is about to become the entire population of NFL players born in the nation of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. While he’s not an explosive player, he feeds off contested catches, comebackers and back shoulder throws. He’s been largely considered a potential Day 2 pick thanks to his toughness and pro-level body control when fighting for balls. But word is he’s dropping down draft boards as personnel guys aren’t seeing suddenness in and out of his breaks or explosiveness. The comparisons to Devin Funchess aren’t helping. But in a short passing/controlled offense, he could definitely find a role.
And even he was excited that Harry would upgrade the WR room and make an increasingly disgruntled Tom Brady gruntled again. I know, first hand, because the person who wrote that was me. And even I'm not trying to claim I saw less than 60 catches and 600 yards over three seasons happening. If I don't get to, no one does.
So fine, Belichick takes the L. He's still the best there has ever been in the GM game. Kiss the rings.