Looming N’Keal Harry divorce underscores New England’s struggles with young receivers

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The bad news is that the Patriots made receiver N'Keal Harry the 32nd overall pick in the 2019 draft. The worse news is that they supposedly had him graded “a lot higher” than that.

Now that his agent has done what agents are supposed to do when it comes to salvaging Harry’s career, attempting to quit the Patriots before he’s inevitably fired, the broader question is this: Why do the Patriots keep getting it so wrong with rookie receivers taken in the upper rounds of the draft?

Who can remember Aaron Dobson, a second-round pick in 2013? More accurately, can anyone remember Aaron Dobson? Then there was Taylor Price, a third-round pick in 2010.

Brandon Tate, a third-rounder in 2009, was cut after two seasons. Second-rounder Chad Jackson became a bust as the 36th overall pick in the draft.

Other than Deion Branch, a second-round pick in 2002 who became a Super Bowl MVP, the Patriots have struggled to find competent, productive, consistent receivers in the first three rounds of the draft.

It’s easy to attribute these issues to a failure to make good draft decisions. And that surely becomes a factor, especially with coach Bill Belichick and company often valuing intangibles like leadership and love of football over raw ability.

At some level, however, the question becomes whether the Patriots are properly developing these players. Is the coaching staff sufficiently patient with young receivers who may be overwhelmed by the Patriots Offense and/or The Patriot Way? Or do they quickly pivot to someone else, treating these young players with the same sink-or-swim standard that applies across the roster?

Whatever the case, a 2019 first-rounder seems to be on his way out. And the Patriots drafted Harry with guys like D.K. Metcalf, A.J. Brown, Deebo Samuel, and Terry McLaurin on the board.

Looming N’Keal Harry divorce underscores New England’s struggles with young receivers originally appeared on Pro Football Talk