Chris Harper to Seahawks: How Does the Wide Receiver Fit with Seattle?
There is little doubt in my mind that Seattle is attempting to get some young talent on the offensive side of the ball in the third day. Why else would it pass up on "bigger needs" on defense to select what has to be considered a project wide receiver?
That's the pure genius of John Schneider and Co.
Even with Da'Rick Rogers, whom I had a first-round grade on, still on the board, it seems that Chris Harper fits the Seahawks passing game much better.
Coming from Kansas State's run-first offense, Harper is one of the better run-blocking wide receivers in the draft. He isn't afraid to stick his neck out there and open up holes for running backs down the field.
Harper could actually come in and contribute immediately as a special teams player and spot receiver. This selection, however, was clearly made with the understanding that Seattle might not be able to retain Sidney Rice and his contract long term.
It was also made in order to acquire more toughness at wide receiver against some of the most physical defenses in the NFL within the division. He could challenge Doug Baldwin as the No. 4 wide receiver in training camp.
Harper could line up in the slot but is better suited to play on the outside. His blocking ability, however, suggests a role as a slot guy in the running game. We saw this with Anquan Boldin a great deal in Baltimore over the last couple seasons.
I am not surprised that Seattle went this route instead of Da'Rick Rogers or Quinton Patton. It made sense to pick up a guy that fits what the organization is attempting to build rather than just going with the perceived best overall receiver remaining in the draft. Generic big boards mean little at this point in the draft.
For what it is worth, Matt Miller had Harper as his 139th-ranked player in the draft. Considering that Seattle got equal value and acquired a scheme fit, it would be hard for me to complain.
What Harper lacks in quickness he sure makes up for with outstanding physicality and an ability to make the first man miss. He will be nothing more than a possession receiver at the next level, but that's OK considering Seattle has both Percy Harvin and Golden Tate as long-term downfield threats.
Separation in the second tier might be an issue, but again, Harper makes up for it by being able to break the press at the line and sit down on intermediate routes.
Harper usually got a nice cushion from a corner that respected his straight-line speed. His acceleration isn't instant, but Harper was fast enough early in his routes to put the corner on his heels. Corners rarely tried to jam Harper with good reason. His strength and aggressive nature should allow him to do well against press coverage in the pros.
As I indicated before, Harper should challenge Doug Baldwin for the No. 4 receiving duties behind Percy Harvin, Sidney Rice and Golden Tate. This pick also enables the Seahawks to get out from under Rice's contract if Harper works out and the salary cap becomes an issue in the next couple seasons.
Good teams build young talent behind proven veterans. This is exactly what Seattle did with its initial selection of the third day.
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