New England Patriots Rumors: Could Jaylen Smith replace N’Keal Harry?

Jaylen Smith #9 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Jaylen Smith #9 of the Louisville Cardinals (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Is it possible the New England Patriots are going to try to correct a mistake? In the 2019 NFL Draft, head coach Bill Belichick made N’Keal Harry a first round pick. After three seasons, Harry has been a huge disappointment. Maybe Harry needs a change of scenery, but he should had worn out his welcome in Foxborough by now.

With just a few days remaining in the season, the Patriots were busy signing 10 players to the practice squad or to future deals. A lot of those deals went defensive backs (DJ Daniel, Cre’Von LeBlanc, De’Vante Bausby, D’Angelo Ross), which is a significant position of need.

Three wide receivers were also signed. Tre Nixon and Malcolm Perry were already in the Patriots program. But Jaylen Smith is new to the group.

At 6’2, 227-pounds, Smith went undrafted after a four-year career at the University of Louisville. He was on the Baltimore Ravens and Seattle Seahawks practice squads previously, but has never played in an NFL game. In 2021, Smith signed with the CFL’s Toronto Argonauts, but he didn’t last too long there either

The New England Patriots flier on Jaylen Smith could end up working out

One of the Patriots current top wideouts, Jakobi Meyers, went undrafted out of North Carolina State. Meanwhile, his North Carolina teammate, Kelvin Harmon, was selected by the Washington Football Team in 2019 as a sixth round pick. Harmon has struggled to stay healthy, and has spent most of his time on Washington’s practice squad. Meanwhile, Meyers has flourished during his time with the Patriots.

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Recently Meyers explained that his decision to sign with the Patriots as an undrafted free agent was because he wanted to show that he could play with a first rounder, which was Harry. Maybe Smith is out to prove the same thing.

It’s a bit surprising that Smith went undrafted in the first place. He averaged 16.5 yards per reception for his Cardinals career and was selected to the All-ACC team in 2017 following a 60-reception, 980-yard, seven touchdown season as Lamar Jackson’s favorite target.

Smith’s numbers plummeted in 2018, as Louisville suffered from inconsistent quarterback play. A poor showing at The Senior Bowl also hurt Smith’s stock, and even though he ran a 4.47 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine, his overall performance wasn’t enough to get his name called.

So what kind of receiver is Jaylen Smith? He has great size, good straight line speed, and is a dangerous runner after the catch. But he may not be the best route runner based on his agility results.

Earning a roster spot becomes harder with the whole off-season ahead for the New England Patriots. New England could acquire a veteran receiver through free agency or via trade. Meyers will be a restricted free agent, though the Patriots will likely bring him back.

Drafting a receiver isn’t out of the question either. If Meyers walks and the Patriots move on from Harry or Gunner Olszewski, there will be roster spots open for competition.

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Working in Smith’s favor is he’s currently the only receiver on the roster who can physically compare to Harry. If the Patriots insist on having a receiver with that kind of physical profile, Jaylen Smith has a chance.

Because Jaylen Smith doesn’t have to out-play all the receivers. Smith just has to beat out Harry.