INDIANAPOLIS – Rare is it that a player headed for the NFL draft doesn’t have good things to say about any team that could potentially draft him, especially when it could be the hometown team.
But for N’Keal Harry, a man who didn’t go far from his home in Chandler to college at Arizona State University, there is a genuine vibe when the wide receiver said Friday it would be “special” to end up with the Cardinals.
It would also put him on the same team as the player he’d like to emulate: Larry Fitzgerald.
Harry said he has yet to talk to Fitzgerald but “hopefully one day.”
To be teammates with Fitzgerald “would be amazing,” Harry added. “He’s a legend. There’s so much wisdom that he has, so playing with a guy like that would benefit me, extremely.”
The two might not have ever crossed paths in person, but Fitzgerald has acknowledged watching Harry’s work as a Sun Devil, telling azfamily.com in the fall Harry was a better college player than Fitzgerald had been.
“I've pretty much watched every game he's played,” Fitzgerald said. “He's a phenomenal talent.”
“For him to say something like that about me, it really did mean a lot,” Harry said.
Another Cardinal, tackle D.J. Humphries, was among the players that gave Harry advice going into the Scouting combine and preparing for the draft. Certainly, giving Harry a chance to play with Fitzgerald and Humphries is an intriguing concept.
The Cardinals need wide receivers, and they could use a big, physical player on the outside. In a wide receiver draft class that seems deep with such size, Harry hopes to make a push to the top of the group. He wouldn’t be in the mix first overall, but he could be possible with the first pick of the second round owned by the Cards – if he were to last that long.
“I’ve heard great things about him, watched him make a ton of plays and I actually coached against him as well,” Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury said. “He’s a big, physical presence and goes up and attacks the football in the air. He’s going to be a guy who continues to climb up draft boards.”
Harry’s 40 time – he will run on Saturday, and potentially again at ASU’s pro day – will be a crucial piece. Harry has been quoted as saying he would like to run 4.55 or faster, although Friday he declined to be specific.
Harry’s measured height has also given a pause, even to Harry. He officially measured at 6-foot-2 3/8, a number he said “puzzled” him after he said he measured at 6-foot-3 3/8 recently while training in Arizona for the combine.
His basketball background – Harry was a star at Chandler High School – helped him as a receiver. Whatever his height, he had little trouble winning contested catches while in college. It’s his separation from defensive backs that needs work, which Harry acknowledged in saying improvement had to come in his techniques like hand placement coming off the ball and crisp breaks at the top of his routes.
“I have expectations I have for myself, goals I want to live up to,” Harry said. “I’m not here to prove my doubters wrong, I’m here to prove the people that believe in me right.”
Harry praised ASU coach Herm Edwards – a longtime NFL coach with plenty of ties to the league – as helping guide him through the pro process. Edwards said the day Harry declared for the draft that Harry now has to “invest” in football as his life, and that’s what Harry has done.
“He prepared me to be here,” Harry said of Edwards. “Kept it real with me always.”
Harry had not yet met with the Cardinals, although the bulk of his meetings in Indy were still to come. The Cardinals would seem – both in location and need – to be a perfect landing spot. But he later noted that he is prepared to play anywhere. The NFL has long been his ultimate goal.
“I’ve always envisioned myself in this seat, ever since I picked up a football,” Harry said.