N’Keal Harry’s Move Has Multiple Ripple Effects

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Of course the biggest news on Tuesday at the Minnesota Vikings minicamp was that Justin Jefferson was in the building having signed his shiny new contract. Another notable piece was that former first-round wide receiver N’Keal Harry is not actually a wide receiver anymore at all.

The Vikings have decided to shuffle the wide receiver room, and N’Keal Harry is being moved off the position. With Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison locked in as the top two players at the position, a battle for the third spot will focus on whether Brandon Powell can replace K.J. Osborn. Harry hadn’t moved up the depth chart enough to be a consideration, and now he’s being utilized as a tight end.

Kevin O’Connell and the Minnesota Vikings utilize tight ends to a relatively large extent. They are without their starter T.J. Hockenson to kick off the year, and his absence is expected to be a lengthy one. Potentially missing half of the season, or sitting out completely depending on the team’s situation when healthy, Hockenson’s absence is a big blow. That necessitated a decision to sign Robert Tonyan as a pass-catching option.

N'Keal Harry
Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports.

Harry being told to go play tight end is something of a last-ditch effort to extract value from him. Not going to contribute at the wide receiver position, the hope is that his athleticism will play off of the line. He is listed at 6’4” and 225 pounds. That’s about 25 pounds shy of where Hockenson checks in at, but Harry would profile as a different type of player. He won’t have the traditional blocking understanding that tight ends are used to, but has served well in those spots on the outside.

There are plenty of alternatives behind Tonyan on the roster at tight end. Josh Oliver was signed last year, and Johnny Mundt was retained. Nick Muse, Trey Knox, and Sammis Reyes are all there as well. It should be assumed that Harry could supplant some of those lesser options, but seeing meaningful snaps would be something of a surprise. Playing in nine games for the Vikings last year, he never got an offensive snap.

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Of course asking Harry to switch positions isn’t a great reflection of how his career as a wide receiver has gone, but it’s also probably at least somewhat indicative of what is expected from Hockenson. If the injury is going to linger, then Sam Darnold and J.J. McCarthy could be without one of the best playmakers Minnesota has to offer for quite some time.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.