Projecting Percy Harvin's NFL Value

With the 2009 NFL Draft quickly approaching, I thought I would take a look at the draft status of one of my favorite college players, Percy Harvin.

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At Florida, Percy Harvin was regarded as one of the most dangerous players in college football, possessing perhaps the quickest first step of any athlete in the collegiate game.

However, most Web sites have Harvin projected as a mid-to-late first round draft pick, taken by whomever is in need of a speed receiver. That said, I believe that Harvin is going to require a lot of patience and development before he becomes a premier receiver in the NFL.

It is no secret that Harvin does not possess the size scouts look for in a typical wide-out, and he is not really seen as a running back prospect in the NFL. He is listed at 5'10" and weighs in at about 190 pounds.

He is built a bit like Carolina's Steve Smith and certainly has the same caliber of speed, but in Urban Meyer's offense, Harvin was never utilized as just a wide receiver. A majority of his touches and big plays were made out of the backfield as a runner.

While Harvin undoubtedly excelled at receiver in college, he was able to exploit defenders because of his natural ability. The playing field will be more level athletically in the NFL, and Harvin will need to step his game up accordingly.

Harvin is going to need time to develop his route-running and field awareness as a receiver, and will need to polish these skills to stick in the league. Presently, Harvin could work great for a team who can use him as a Warrick Dunn or Brian Westbrook-like threat in the passing game, getting him the ball with screen plays and short passing routes.

Harvin also has the talent to be a great kick and punt returner, though the highlight-reel returns of teammate Brandon James limited his opportunities to showcase those skills in college.

Harvin's durability has been the greatest question surrounding his draft status, as he was injury-prone at Florida. Furthermore, his injuries were usually leg-related, a big red-flag for evaluators.

To peg Harvin with a specific team would be pure speculation, but a creative offensive coordinator will certainly get more value out of him. Teams who employ things like direct snaps, reverses, and play-action screens are certainly salivating at the opportunity to add this kind of talent to their offense. But teams will have to take a cautious look at Harvin with his size and durability issues.

There is no doubt that Harvin is an amazing talent that can bring a great deal to the team that drafts him. However, his success will be determined by how he is used so that he can avoid the injury bug as he develops into a consistent playmaker.

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