California WR Chris Harper NFL Draft Scouting Report


Every year when NFL Draft evaluations are happening, there are a number of players that you’re left wondering, what in the world was everyone thinking? How did this guy slip through the cracks?

That would apply to California wide receiver Chris Harper, who is only 5-foot-11, 175 pounds. If you search his name in Google, you’re going to come up with a bunch of results for 2013 wide receiver prospect Chris Harper of Kansas State, who has bounced around the NFC West a bit in his NFL career.

You really have to do some digging on this guy, but it’s worth it.

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There’s nothing spectacular about his numbers, but that’s due largely to inconsistent quarterback play, it seems. Harper caught 52 passes this past year as a junior, racking up 632 yards and six touchdowns, while also contributing as a punt returner. In 2013 as a sophomore, Harper caught 69 balls for 840 yards and five touchdowns.

Nothing spectacular about the numbers, nothing standing out about the averages that would make you go back and wonder what more this guy did that we’re not seeing.

But if you thought that numbers never lie, then you’ve been believing a lie.

Robert Klemko at MMQB did a great piece on Harper, highlighting one of this year’s biggest NFL Scouting Combine snubs. Heck, Harper is so unknown by the masses at this point, this guy doesn’t even have a mock draftable web.

That’s a big deal, in case you didn’t know.

He doesn’t have a scouting report that pops up when you search his name, just a couple of articles and things mixed in with the former Kansas State Chris Harper. It’s pretty sad, really.

But, if you do the digging, you’ll find people who have done some homework on the Cal version of Chris Harper, the guy who left school early after doing things like this. Highlight reel catches do not a great prospect make, but Harper appears to be so much more than that. Thankfully, Draft Breakdown has some of his 2013 tape in their archive, and you can see through different games that this kid’s skill set, while far from complete, is the real deal.

First and foremost, what jumps out about Harper’s tape is his phenomenal athletic ability and quickness. You see him explode in and out of his routes, and he finds ways to make himself the open receiver seemingly every play. What I like most about his game is that you don’t often see guys with that kind of speed and quickness at the collegiate level running such precise routes from different positions, especially as just a sophomore.

In this tape, Harper is playing in his second year of college football and is schooling defensive backs up and down the field. He will get open inside, outside, short, intermediate, deep downfield, and he makes tough catches. Unlike other players his size, Harper fights for the football and plays with a bit of physicality and swagger, which I really like.

You can see throughout the video plays where Harper will make excellent effort to work back toward the line of scrimmage and fight for the football, whether contested or not. He makes tough, over the shoulder catches and displays great concentration on deep balls downfield.

One of his greatest attributes is his ability after the catch. Perhaps a downside to his game at times, Harper fights for extra yardage, almost to a fault, and has the ability to make defenders miss in the open field right before he accelerates past them for a bigger gain.

For whatever reasons NFL  teams decide — be it size, lack of big numbers statistically, or the fact that he chose to leave school after just three years, Harper will be under-drafted. He isn’t going to go as high as he should, or maybe I’m just too high on him. Either way, this is a player that has really caught my eye and someone who has slipped through the cracks, to this point.

He does everything well as a receiver and has the type of confidence in himself you love to see in a young receiver. He could be one of the biggest steals of the draft.

Next: Bryce Petty Sneaking Into the First Round?