Deonte Harty, who legally changed his last name from Harris recently, quietly had a wildly efficient season at wideout in 2021 with the New Orleans Saints.
Despite dealing with poor QB play for most of the year and sustaining a hiccup from a 3-game suspension for a DUI in Weeks 14-16, Harty managed to rack up 570 receiving yards and three TDs on the season.
But what is most impressive about his year has nothing to do with the counting stats – it’s how effective he was with a relatively small number of touches.
Out of 104 qualifying receivers in PFF’s database this season, he was in the top 10 of three major categories.
-10th in yards per reception (15.8)
-6th in yards after catch per reception (6.8)
-5th in yards per route run (2.69)
He also was fifth in overall PFF grade out of this group, with an 87.8 grade.
The most impressive stat out of those to me is the 2.69 yards per route run. The four names who were above him in this category in order were Antonio Brown, Davante Adams, Deebo Samuel and Cooper Kupp.
So on a per-route-run basis, he was just as effective when targeted as some of the best receivers in the NFL, which is crazy to think about. And that doesn’t even take into account that the quarterbacks throwing him the ball are all worse than the QBs throwing the aforementioned receivers passes.
Part of the reasoning behind his low volume is his size and his presence on special teams. Sean Payton has talked before about not wearing Harty out by having him in on every play due to him being a returner on punts and kicks.
He also has a limited route tree that mostly includes deep shots. This means it’s harder to rely on him drive in and drive out to move the ball down the field, and it means he probably needs a couple breathers after streaking down the field a few times in a row.
But the reason his efficiency numbers are so good is because when he is on the field, he’s utilized correctly.
His route tree mostly includes streaks, stop-n-go’s, deep posts, corner posts, comebacks, deep outs and some screen passes.
And there’s really no reason to change that because his speed is such a threat that the defense almost always has to just concede the underneath stuff to him on those stop routes and out routes.
But when they do bite, or even if they don’t, he’s just always got a chance of making a play behind the defense’s head.
After a pick, Winston comes back for a 72 yard TD to Deonte Harris, vintage Jameis pic.twitter.com/MDK6yGT0hP— Football Nerds (@FootballNerds_) October 10, 2021
Now, another impressive aspect of Harty’s game is his mere 5.3% career drop rate. On 97 career targets in the regular season, he’s only dropped four balls. On top of being a big play waiting to happen, he’s reliable.
And the yards after catch stat is just the icing on the cake for him.
Deonte Harris runs it in for the touchdown— New Orleans Saints (@Saints) December 3, 2021
: #DALvsNO on NFLN/FOX/PRIME VIDEO pic.twitter.com/95chBCWRPZ
When the defense has to respect you deep so much, and at the same time you can make people miss and break loose when you get the ball underneath, there’s really just not much they can do with you.
This is why people draw the Tyreek Hill comparisons so much. He really is just that special on a per-play basis. And maybe not to that level yet, but with more and more touches as his career has played out, he’s just gotten better and better.
So, with a healthy Michael Thomas (hopefully) coming back next season and a quarterback in Jameis Winston who he had great chemistry with, I think it’s safe to assume that Harty’s volume would go up even more next season – given that he’s brought back in NOLA.
And with the trends of how he’s progressed as a player through the past few years, I don’t think there’s many signs that point to his efficiency dropping much.
I personally can’t wait to see what he does in 2022.
What do you think of Deonte Harty? Let us know in the comments. Make sure you follow Canal Street Chronicles on Twitter at @SaintsCSC, “Like” us on Facebook at Canal Street Chronicles, follow us on Instagram at @SaintsCSC, and make sure you’re subscribed to our new YouTube channel. As always, you can follow me on Twitter @AndrewBell_98.