When you were young (as I was once) you play sports with a desire that came from your love of the game. You give it your all, but sometimes it isn’t good enough. which is the way sports are for most of us. You play against a guy who is bigger, stronger, faster than you are so you struggle to hold your own against him. Then you find out that this kid is actually younger than you. That is when you realize your hopes for a pro career have vanished. When you can’t hang with a younger kid, it is time to hit the books or invent the next widget that everybody must have.
Kelvin Harmon is like that kid you played against. He is 6’ 3” 213 lbs with great speed (although not elite) and is only 20 years old. He played as a true freshman catching 27 balls and 5 TDs while averaging over 17 yards a reception. Watching him on tape he reminds me of Michael Thomas when he was at Ohio state. Thomas was a player I desperately wanted the Jets to draft, but he was lucky to go to New Orleans where he could play with a future Hall of Fame QB and show his massive talent. Thomas wasn’t the fastest receiver, and Harmon has the same skill set. Harmon was my #1 receiver entering this season, and he has not disappointed.
This is him as a freshman on a simple drag route. Watch the body control, and watch the hands. This is special stuff.
You see he waits. He is patient. He doesn’t jump or put his hands up until the last second. He has perfect timing on the high throw and only puts his hands up at the last possible second to make the catch. The defender has no idea the ball is coming and can’t make a play on the ball or the man. This was a great hands catch, Now watch him on another play in the same game.
This is man coverage with a safety coming over for support. He is as cool as (a homage to Stuart Scott) the other side of the pillow. The defender has excellent coverage and is in his hip pocket with the safety about to arrive. Here is another angle.
He sees the ball coming on an arc, and it must have felt like an eternity for the ball to get there. He remains calm giving a slight arm nudge to the defender but doesn’t put his hands up for the catch. Instead he adjusts his speed and let the ball fall into his arms over the shoulder of the unsuspecting defender. He tucks the ball away quickly, knowing he is going to be crushed by two defenders and brings in the TD. This was done by a 18 year old receiver, a nuanced receiving technique he was never taught. Most NFL receivers don’t have this type of savvy or technical skill to even try this. Harmon is a natural hands catcher so this was a instinctive play on his part. This is but one instance that Harmon shows innate skills for a receiver and the reason I would spend a 1st round pick on him to help Sam.
Harmon already has a upper body thickness along with muscular legs to survive in a rugged NFL environment. He also show exceptional balance and body control with the strength to make contested catches. He also has speed (probably about 4.45- 4.50) to get vertical and run by defenders. Here he is against Louisville where you know all those defensive backs have great speed.
It’s hard to see but he runs straight at the defender, which is awesome. The defender is in a backpedal but has no idea which side Harmon is going until it is too late. He blows by the defender but has to wait on the ball which allows the CB to catch up. Harmon subtly turns his body so the defender can’t make a play on the ball and then has the strength and balance to carry the CB into the end zone. This was another nuanced move by a now 19 year old.
I mentioned his balance and body control, but I neglected talking about his hands. Harmon has great hand-eye coordination, and he shows all the virtues I extol in him on this play.
This again is just above what a normal receiver can do. This is innate an ability to beat a CB and make a contested catch against the sideline in the end zone. To be able to take contact, keep your concentration, and make the catch and keep a knee in bounds is remarkable. Few NFL receivers could make this play against strong coverage.
This next play is again made as a true freshman. He is an outside receiver who is tasked with running by a CB who is playing off coverage. This is a 30 yard throw to the sideline with a defender between the receiver and QB. This is a very strong throw by the QB to get it over the defender from such a distance.
This is a great hands catch at it’s apex, and he still keeps enough balance to lunge to the goal line. This was ruled down a the one yard line, but it doesn’t take away from the great body control. He not only makes a great catch, but he turns his body and stretches towards the goal line. You are watching a Pro Bowl quality receiver as a freshman in college.
Some of you may question the talent of the players Harmon is playing against. Why? I don’t know, but if you think that here he is against Cordrea Tankersley who currently plays for the Miami Dolphins.
You see he makes the nice catch, but he also gets both feet in bounds against a tall, quality, speedy corner who is almost as tall as he is. Again he gains separation with a very subtle hand push and extends up with great concentration to make the catch.
NFL receivers who work on the outside must be able to break press coverage in order to be successful. Harmon has more than enough strength to beat press coverage, but does he have the technique to be win close to the LOS? Here he is against Tankersley again on a 3rd and 7, you need a 1st down.
This is very nice on many levels. First, he is able to break press coverage quickly and feign a release down the sideline. Tankersley is in full retreat even though he is right next to Harmon. As Harmon beats down Tankersley’s hands, (which is just textbook technique) he leans into him giving him slight separation. With that, he moves back towards the LOS to give his QB a huge window to throw to. This is nicely done, and I’ll say it again. Most NFL receivers can’t do this. It takes size, ability and technique, and this kid is overflowing with all of these traits.
I could show you 50 more videos of Harmon being an NFL ready superstar receiver. He is able to work zone coverage. He works the first down sticks like a pro. He has the innate ability to make the right play at the right time without thinking. Does this mean that Harmon is a perfect receiver? Of course it doesn’t. He still has a lot to learn, but he shows an incredible aptitude to do so. I would love to have him grow as a pro with a certain young QB. That could be glorious.
I wrote an article before the season about how Chris Herndon could be a target as a TE. If you get a player like Harmon and build an average offensive line with the RB’s we have you can compete if it allows Sam to grow. I think Sam is a smart kid and he can be a force in this league if you give him the tools to succeed.
As of right now, the Jets have the 4th pick in the draft. That gives them options. I don’t think they will win another game so they might end up with the 3rd pick.
I am a huge build from the inside out guy philosophy, meaning build the o-line first and then the skill positions. I am still that person.
So if the Jets have the 3rd pick in the draft, I may gamble and trade down to pick up some quality picks, but I wouldn’t go lower than maybe 9th because I would use my 1st round pick on Harmon. I know before his injury that N’Keal Harry was the consensus best WR but not in my book. I think in terms of separation, strength, innate ability that Harmon was better.
I am also a drafter who derides drafting a WR in the 1st round. I even wrote an article on the foibles of drafting a 1st round WR in a post some 2 years ago. I firmly believe that the WR position has the highest bust rate of any 1st round position outside the QB position. With that knowledge I am still confident that Harmon is a player the Jets need to select.
The Jets need to get Sam a quality option in the passing game, someone he can grow with. It has to be someone strong (sorry not you Robby) who can win on the outside. If you have that player, it makes players like Robbie and Quincy so much more viable.
Let me know what you think...