"With the 27th pick of the 2009 NFL Draft, the Indianapolis Colts select Percy Harvin, Wide Receiver, University of Florida."
There was a time in the not too distant past those words were almost sure to be uttered by Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Most so-called draft experts had Harvin going to the Colts with the 27th pick. That prediction was assuming he’d run in low 4.3's or in the 4.2's. Urban legend had it that he ran a 4.32 his freshman year at UF. So it wasn’t outside of the realm of impossibility that he’d run a 4.2 or a 4.3.
But it didn’t happen. Harvin ran a 4.41, making him the seventh-fastest wide receiver at the combine. His bench press (19 reps of 225 lbs.) ranked fifth among receivers. Most hurtful to him was his refusal to participate in any other drills—especially the running of the "route tree."
Most mock drafts had four receivers being taken in the first round. Harvin was ranked as the third-best receiver of the group behind Michael Crabtree of Texas Tech and Jeremy Crabtree of Missouri.
That all changed with Harvin’s combine performance.
Darius Heyward-Bey is now the third receiver after his outstanding combine performance. Kenny Britt of Rutgers may have also moved ahead of Harvin because of his combination of size and speed. Possibly even Hakeem Nicks has passed him because of his size, speed, and having played in a pro-style offense at North Carolina.
Harvin needed a “jaw dropping” combine because he lacks a defined position. The question being asked has to be, "is he a running back or wide receiver?" Due to his disappointingly average 40-time, the question of him not having a defined position becomes even more pronounced.
Harvin measured out at 5'11" 202 pounds. He's never exclusively been a running back. And based on his myriad of injuries at UF, his body cannot handle the punishment that comes with the position.
He's also never been a wide receiver that ran pro-style routes during his college career. That’s why his refusal to show NFL GM's and coaches that he could indeed run NFL-type routes was such a shocker to everyone in the business.
Of note, Harvin said he will run the route tree as well as perform other skill tests at UF’s Pro Day on March 18. But for intents and purposes, that could be a month and a half late and $10 million short.
Unlike DeSean Jackson (California Bears/Philadelphia Eagles), Harvin doesn't contribute on special teams. While Jackson wasn't a very polished receiver, he was drafted high in the second round because of his punt and kick return abilities. He was able to contribute right away to the Eagles because of his special teams prowess.
The same can be said about Devin Hester of the Chicago Bears. He too was a high draft pick because of special teams abilities. He also was a player without a defined position having played both cornerback and wide receiver at University of Miami. Now in his third year with the Bears, he is just starting to understand the intricacies of being an NFL wide receiver.
For those reasons, I think there is zero chance of Harvin, an enigma (position wise), being selected in the first round of the 2009 NFL Draft. The combine results showed NFL GM’s and coaches there are "true wide receivers" available who run just as fast, if not faster, than Harvin.
While Harvin is a really good player, the offensive system in which the Gators run has become quite the hindrance to his dreams of being a first-round draft pick. Unfortunately for him, that system doesn't provide for very many transferable skills to take to the next level.
In today's “win right now” NFL, no team can afford to carry a high-priced first round pick for 2-3 years while he learns a position; especially if that draft pick is unable to contribute to the team in another area.
4.41 40-yard dash. Sounds pretty fast to me. But in the world of the NFL, that makes Harvin nothing more than another in a long line of guys that run fast.
Best of luck to you P-Harv.