Falcons Select Hardy in Fourth Round

Justin Hardy was taken in fourth round (107th overall) of the NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, becoming the first Pirate taken in the draft since 2011

The Atlanta Falcons selected former East Carolina receiver Justin Hardy in the fourth round (107th overall) of the NFL Draft on Saturday afternoon. Hardy was the 15th receiver taken in the draft.

The former walk-on quarterback from Vanceboro, N.C., is also the first ECU player selected in the draft since wide receiver Dwayne Harris was picked by the Dallas Cowboys in 2011 (sixth round, 176th overall).

Moments after the pick, which was announced by a fan at the Falcons draft party, Hardy posted on his Twitter account, “So proud to be drafted by the Atlanta Falcons. Can’t wait to get down there and put some work in.”

Hardy owns the NCAA FBS record for receptions (387) and all of ECU’s receiving records. He also won the Burlsworth Award last fall, which is awarded to college football’s best player who began their career as a walk-on.

Hardy’s hands were measured at 10 inches at the NFL Scouting Combine in February, which was tied for the fourth largest among all the receivers in this draft, but his 4.56 40-yard dash was tied for the second-slowest time clocked among the first 15 receivers taken in the draft.

Also, Hardy, who was listed at six feet tall at ECU last season, measured in at 5-foot-10 at the combine; making him just one of just four receivers in the top 20 of Scout.com’s receiver rankings that is listed under six-feet tall.

Here are some of the immediate reactions on Hardy’s selection:

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff: “Justin Hardy is a threat at all levels for us. He’s a very productive inside receiver. He’s got a very good knack of separating from defensive backs, very good hands, catches around his body very easily and he has big-play ability. We’re excited about having him on board to add to this already very adept receiver group.”

Former ECU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley : “I’ve been through it with few guys, but this one was a little different … I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a guy taken from where he started to where he is now. It’s pretty incredible. The Atlanta Falcons, they don’t even know what they got themselves. They’ll see here pretty quickly just like we did. His character, his desire and his ability, it’s pretty incredible. So they are just going to enjoy it like we did.”

Donnie Kirkpatrick, Hardy’s position coach at ECU: “I couldn’t be happier because he’s such a deserving young man and he’s never been anything other than awesome and great. He will make all East Carolina people proud. That’s one thing about him; everybody can be proud of him. He’s never going to do anything but make East Carolina look great.”

Kevin Yost, Hardy’s coach at West Craven High School: “For me, it’s surreal because you realize as a coach that although you were able to help the kid, Justin really did the work and put himself in the position. Yeah, he got there and I helped him get there and all that, but the spotlight is on Justin. For me, personally, I’m thrilled.”

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