There is typically significant demand for freakish wide receivers in the NFL draft. Stephen Hill was last year's biggest freak, and he was selected in the second round by the New York Jets. Now, Mark Harrison may not be the most physically-talented wide receiver in the 2013 NFL draft, but he's certainly high on the list. At least his NFL Scouting Combine performance says so. But how much do his measurables transfer to the field, and is Harrison an early-round pick?
At 6'3", 231 pounds, Harrison is big. He combines size with impressive straight-line speed and vertical ability. Harrison plays physically, using his body to get open and position himself to make the catch. He has no problem going up for a pass. Harrison also frequently displays impressive body control and catching ability. Harrison's size allows him to easily run through many defensive backs, and he relentlessly searches for opportunities to make plays with the ball in his hands.
Though he is fast, Harrison isn't exceptionally quick, and he lacks great burst. He doesn't explode off the snap, and it takes him a while to get up to full speed. Harrison's routes lack great suddenness, and he isn't going to gain yards after the catch with his quickness. Harrison doesn't always extend his hands like he should, and he's had some problems with drops.
The 6'3", 231-pound Harrison dominated the scouting combine, running a 4.46 in the 40-yard dash. Harrison also recorded a vertical leap of 38.5". Harrison's strength is impressive, and his length is incredible, even for such a large wide receiver. He can run, jump and use his considerable strength to make plays on or with the ball.
Harrison along with fellow wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins were accused of trashing a hotel room at the scouting combine in Indianapolis. This is the only significant blemish on Harrison's record, but it is concerning. The facts aren't entirely clear, though, and the limited information should always be used cautiously.
Harrison ran a number of different routes for Rutgers. He would go out for screen plays, intermediate passes and fly patterns. The team was willing to give him the ball at all levels of the field. Harrison typically lined up out wide, rarely playing from the slot.
Harrison's strength is helpful here. Though his lack of burst and quickness helps defensive backs press on him more easily, Harrison uses his strength to get through the press. His long arms also help, and cornerbacks rarely succeed in jamming Harrison at the line of scrimmage.
Harrison doesn't always show great burst in and out of his cuts. His tight hips hinder him as he attempts routes breaking outside, but he does excel on some patterns. Harrison is great at using his size and decent foot quickness to run curls and other comeback routes.
Harrison's hands are inconsistent. He too often uses his body to bring in catches instead of extending his hands. He needs to get his arms out further and truly use his hands to bring in passes. Harrison drops too many routine passes.
Harrison excels at attacking the ball. His leaping ability allows him to go up for almost any pass, and few defensive backs are big and athletic enough to compete on jump balls. Harrison shows excellent body control, and he's able to extend for passes not thrown right at him. Few wide receivers show the type of contested-catch ability Harrison does.
Run After Catch
Harrison's size and strength make him a threat with the ball in his hands. Defensive backs struggle to wrap him up and bring him to the ground. He shows an aggressive running style and won't go down without a fight. Harrison isn't overly quick or sudden with the ball in his hands, and he won't use his elusiveness to get by many defenders. His speed does allow him to get to the outside, but it's mostly Harrison's power that will be gaining yards after the catch.
Harrison's size, strength and length are obvious assets here. He is stronger and bigger than almost everyone he ever blocks, and that's a huge advantage. Harrison is good at getting into position to properly block. However, he could stand to be more aggressive and attack the cornerback instead of letting the cornerback come to him.
Scheme Versatility/Future Role
Harrison can play in almost any offensive scheme, but he would probably be best off in a downfield offense that takes advantage of his size and speed. Harrison is capable of attacking downfield, and his lack of quickness makes him less of a fit in a West Coast offense. Harrison could eventually become a strong possession receiver, but he needs to do a better job of extending his hands first.