FOXBORO — New England Patriots’ rookie wide receiver N’Keal Harry has many career goals and aspirations that he wants to accomplish in looking ahead to his professional career.
It seems, however, one of his top priorities may serve a bigger purpose than simply catching passes from quarterback Tom Brady. Harry, who the Patriots made the first NFL player drafted from the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with their first-round selection, is ready to make the most of his platform.
“(I want to) give back in any way that I can,” Harry said during his introductory press conference at Gillette Stadium on Thursday in which team owner Robert Kraft and president Jonathan Kraft accompanied the Patriots’ 32nd overall in the 2019 NFL Draft.
“Definitely help my family, help some people on the island,” Harry added. “I feel like with this platform I’ve been given, it’s my duty to do something good with it. God has blessed me to be in this position. So it would be a disservice if I didn’t give back and if I didn’t show appreciation, so that’s my biggest goal.”
The former Arizona State receiver is the first in a different category as well. Harry is the only receiver to be drafted by Patriots coach Bill Belichick in the first round.
Harry’s family still lives on the island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a southern Caribbean nation. He was raised by his grandmother since moving to the United States at the age of four and spent the majority of his childhood in Arizona.
The Patriots are hopeful that Harry’s presence on the field will be felt just as much as off of it. He is a physical receiver at 6-foot-4, 213 pounds and has been compared to the likes of Dez Bryant, Josh Gordon, Anquan Boldin, Larry Fitzgerald and others.
“It’s definitely a blessing to be compared to those types of players, but I still have to prove myself,” Harry said. “I haven’t done anything in the NFL yet so it’s my job to put in the work and to perform and to live up to the expectations.”
A first-team All-Pac-12 selection during his junior season, Harry said his top-30 visit to New England opened his eyes to what the six time Super Bowl champion organization was all about.
“When I came here for the visit, I just felt like there was something different,” Harry said. “There was a different approach and a different mentality.
“I just feel like we’re all held to a higher standard, everybody in the building,” he added. “That’s what I need, that’s what everybody needs to progress and to advance. So I’m looking forward to it.”
Harry caught 73 passes for 1,088 yards and nine touchdowns with the Sun Devils last season. He appeared in 37 career games in three seasons at Arizona State and recorded 213 receptions for 2,889 yards and 22 touchdowns. He left Tempe, Ariz., as the third in program history in both career receptions and career receiving yards.
Despite not having officially met his new quarterback, Harry is nevertheless excited to learn in the confines of Gillette Stadium. He said he has already started viewing the playbook.
“It means the world to me,” Harry said of being drafted by the franchise. “This is a great organization. I feel like I couldn’t have been put in a better situation. I’m learning from the best of the best and I’m just excited to get to work and soak in as much information as possible.”
Patriots sign TE Watson
The Patriots came to an agreement with free agent tight end Ben Watson on a one-year deal worth $3 million, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Watson, 38, who announced that he would retire last season, changed his mind in the offseason. He fills one of the biggest need on the New England roster.
Watson returns to New England, where he was drafted in 2004. He played six seasons in Foxboro (2004-09) and most recently with New Orleans last season when he had 35 receptions in 16 games (four starts). He also recorded 400 yards receiving with two touchdowns last year.
Watson has 5,885 receiving yards on 530 catches and 44 touchdowns in his career. He will complement a tight end group that lost Rob Gronkowski to retirement and has a depth chart of Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Stephen Anderson and Matt LaCosse.