Scout's Notebook: WR Percy Harvin

A game-changing playmaker in the mold of Randy Moss and Adrian Peterson before him, the Vikings are willing to gamble on the high-risk, high-reward Percy Harvin. Here's a complete and in-depth scouting report and player profile ...

#12, Percy Harvin, WR (5112, 193, 4.34-4.46) Florida

Notes: Born William Percival Harvin III, 5/28/88, in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Also participated in basketball and track at Landstown High School, where he was the only athlete in Virginia history to win five gold medals (long-jump, triple-jump, 100- and 200-meters and 4x100 relays).

Caught 58 passes for 1,016 yards (17.5 avg) and 17 touchdowns while rushing 68 times for 726 yards (10.7 avg) and 10 touchdowns as a junior en route to helping lead Landstown to Group AAA state championship as a sophomore. Named Offensive Player of the Year in the Beach District and Eastern Region in 2004.

Received a one-game suspension in 2004 for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties, one for excessive celebration. Was suspended two days from school in the Winter of 2004 after an altercation with a teacher/wrestling coach (Harvin claims incident was “blown out of proportion” and arose from a student game in the cafeteria). Harvin led Landstown to a perfect 14-0 record and a Virginia Group AAA, Division 6 state championship in 2004. Harvin returned four punts for touchdowns as a junior. In the title game against James Robinson High School, he accounted for 476 total yards (rushing, receiving, kick and interception returns) and scored five touchdowns in the 47-20 victory.

Was charged with misdemeanor assault in April 2005 for his role in a street fight, but charges were later dismissed. Suspended two football games in 2005 following an on-field incident in which Harvin was reportedly taunted and spit on by opposing players. Enraged, Harvin allegedly made contact with a referee and inappropriate language as he was trying to restrain him. Finished his prep career with 75 catches for 1,313 yards with 14 touchdowns, as he also rushed for 504 yards and 13 additional scores his senior season, recording a total of 33 touchdowns during his final campaign. Landstown finished 13-1 in 2005 before losing in the state championship.

A basketball altercation in 2005 also led to the premature end in which a verbal confrontation with an opposing player escalated and led to referees declaring the game over with time remaining. Harvin was later barred by the Virginia High School League from participating in any high school sporting events. Percy’s mother withdrew her son from the team, citing safety concerns when his coach informed him that he could not be protected from opponents, who were allegedly determined to hurt him. He was subsequently barred from athletic competition by the Virginia High School League.

Graduated with a 3.0 GPA and 890 SAT score. Listed as the nation’s top recruit according to Rivals.com and Scout.com. Earned Parade All-American honors as a senior and was selected to participate in the U.S. Army All-American Game after being named the 2004 National Junior of the Year by Rivals.com.

College: Despite the controversy from his prep days, he became one of the top recruits in the 2006 high school class, receiving scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State, Miami (Fla.), Michigan and Southern California. Came out of high school as a 5-foot-11, 188-pound scatback with 4.35 speed. Bench-pressed 250 pounds, squatted 400 and posted a 36-inch vertical jump and 4.18 shuttle time.

2006: Wore jersey No. 8 as a freshman. Freshman All-American first-team choice by The NFL Draft Report, Football Writers Association and Scripps, adding second-team honors from The Sporting News. Named SEC Freshman of the Year by the league’s coaches, AP and The Sporting News. Started 5 of 13 games in which he appeared (missing the Alabama game and was limited to just one play vs. Kentucky due to a left ankle sprain. Rushed 41-428-4 (10.4 avg.) and caught 34-427-2 (12.6 avg.). Averaged 11.4 yards per offensive touch to lead all nation’s freshmen. Caught 9 passes for 60 yards and rushed 5 times for 22 yards, including a touchdown to help the Gators capture the national title in their 41-14 win over Ohio State.

2007: All-American first-team choice by The Sporting News. Associated Press All-SEC first-team selection as an all-purpose back, adding second-team honors as a receiver. Semi-finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, given to the nation’s top receiver. Started 10-of-11 games, sitting out South Carolina and Florida Atlantic games with a sinus infection and migraine headaches. Also missed part of fall camp with Achilles tendonitis and suffered a hip pointer against Ole Miss. Averaged 147.45 all-purpose yards per game, totaling 1,622 yards for the campaign as he caught 59-858-4 (14.5 avg.). Rushed 83-764-6 (9.2 avg.). Caught 9-77-1 and rushed for 165 yards on 13 carries, including a 66-yard score and a 10-yard TD run in the fourth quarter in the Gators’ Capital One Bowl contest against Michigan.

2008: Earned All-American first-team-honors from Rivals.com and second-team accolades from The NFL Draft Report (as an all-purpose back), American Football Coaches Association and the Walter Camp Foundation. Consensus first-team All-SEC pick. Started 11 of 12 games played, lining up as a slot receiver, tailback and split end. Caught 40-644-7 (16.1 avg.) and rushed 70-660-10 (9.4 avg.), with 31 of his catches resulting in first downs. Missed the season opener (vs. Hawaii) due to a right heel injury and was also unable to play in the team’s SEC Championship game against Alabama due to a sprained right ankle. Returned against Oklahoma in the BCS National Championship game to help lead the Gators to a 24-14 victory over the Sooners with 9 rushes for 122 yards and one touchdown, plus 5 catches for 49 yards. Active member of the Goodwill Gators who volunteered his time with the Children’s Miracle Network at Shands. Majored in Social & Behavioral Sciences.

Pre-Draft: At the Scouting Combine, he ran 4.39 in the 40-yard dash, 1.47 10-yard dash, 2.51 20-yard dash, 3.93 20-yard shuttle, 6.68 three-cone drill, 37-inch vertical jump, 10’6” broad jump and bench pressed 225 pounds 19 times.

According to NFL.com’s Gil Brandt, Harvin checked in at 5-foot-11 ¾, 193 pounds during his Pro Day workout, posting a 37 ½-inch vertical jump, a 10’1” broad jump and 20 reps. “He looked exceptional in position drills and caught the ball well,” Brandt added. “He also showed great explosion.”

Pro: First-round draft choice (No. 22 overall) by Vikings in 2009. Was a top-10 player on the team’s draft board. The Vikings spent lots of time addressing Harvin’s off-field issues with Harvin and the Florida coaching staff. Both head coach Brad Childress and VP of Player Personnel Rick Spielman met with Florida coach Urban Meyer, and Childress personally met with Meyer, defensive coordinator Charlie Strong, Harvin and Harvin’s family the Wednesday prior to the draft. The Patriots also sent a coach down to meet with Harvin the Friday before the draft and were poised to take him at No. 23. According to Rich Cimini of the New York Daily News, the New York Jets tried to trade back into round one to get receiver Harvin. They called the Browns, in the hopes of getting the No. 21 selection, one spot before the Vikings took Harvin at No. 22. Other reports also indicate that the Dolphins were prepared to take Harvin at No. 25.

Positives: Immensely gifted natural athlete. Soft hands and catches the ball naturally. Plucks the ball and catches it away from his body. Extremely well-built and strong for his size. Uses his hands well to defeat the press. Excellent burst, acceleration and quickness. Creates instant separation on his pass routes and can get open against even premier cover corners. Tremendous quickness into and out of cuts. Can erase a defenders cushion in a hurry and has true home run speed to get downfield. Has a natural second gear and explosive acceleration to consistently separate down field. Tracks the ball nicely over his shoulder. Has the strength, quickness and elusiveness to elude the press at the line of scrimmage. Will catch the ball inside and is incredibly dangerous after the catch. Is very, very elusive in the open-field and can cutback on a dime and make defenders miss. A difference-maker. Wants the ball in the clutch. Knows how to work back to his quarterback when the pocket collapses. Can turn a simple screen into a big play anytime he touches the ball. Always a threat to go the distance. Superb vision. Follows blockers nicely. Good natural awareness and instincts. Has the speed to pull away from poor pursuit angles and outrun defenders to the end zone. Terrific balance and body control. Can break arm tackles. Developing into an effective downfield blocker. Hard worker who takes the game seriously. A student of the game with above-average football intelligence. Has no problems taking plays from the chalkboard to the field. Very, very competitive. Gives total effort on the field. Demonstrates a team-oriented attitude and willingness to do anything he can to contribute. Extremely versatile; can line up in the slot, in the backfield, or out wide. Should be a dynamic kickoff returner and explosive punt return option as well. Has matured since his high school days. Has a solid family support system. Worked extremely hard to come back from injuries.

Negatives: Shorter than you’d like for an outside receiver. Lacks extensive experience in a pro-style offense and running a full assortment of pass routes. Tends to drift on his pass routes when he isn’t the primary target. Could still use continued refinement on the finer points of the game. Isn’t always a strong tackle-breaker. Perhaps too competitive for his own good in some respects. Questionable character and judgment. Well-documented incidents from high school and tested positive for marijuana at the Scouting Combine. Has shown a sense of entitlement and there are questions about how coachable he will be. His durability is a definite concern as he has been sidelined at various times with an assortment of injuries (ankle, foot, hamstring, neck, etc.). Does not have much actual kick return experience.

Similar to: To some degree, Harvin is a combination of Steve Smith (Panthers), Reggie Bush (Saints) and Devin Hester (Bears) all rolled into one. He might be most similar to Smith, except that he’s a little bigger and even faster. Comparisons to Bush and Hester are based on his overall big-play ability and versatility.

Summary: Character concerns aside, Harvin is exactly what the Vikings’ offense needed. His ability to separate from defenders, spread the field and open things up for Adrian Peterson in the backfield, Bernard Berrian outside, Visanthe Shiancoe down the middle, etc., etc. goes without saying. If he can make a healthy transition to the NFL lifestyle, show good judgment and avoid injuries, Harvin could be the biggest steal of the entire draft.

What they said:

“This kid’s a good kid. He’s got a good family. He’s got a bright smile.” – Childress when asked about Harvin’s character

“We did very good at trying to find what this kid is made of. We’re very excited to have Percy as part of our organization. When you look at him on tape, there's no question he's a top ten talent. This was too good a pick to pass up. You see the explosiveness when he runs routes and how well he catches the ball. He's not far away from being a dominant slot receiver.” -Rick Spielman, vice president of player personnel

“We feel we have a very strong locker room, a very strong support staff here. We felt comfortable enough that he was just too explosive of a playmaker and too hard to pass up when we were picking.  This scenario was almost like when Adrian Peterson was there at No. 7. He's that high on your board, he's that explosive of a playmaker — you just can't pass up good football players like that if you feel comfortable with everything that comes along with him. And we felt more than comfortable with that.” -Spielman

“We just spent three years with Percy. Coach [Brad] Childress came down and Rick Spielman came down and they could not have done a more thorough job. We had a great discussion and they asked a lot of in-depth questions. …We recruit a little bit like Minnesota drafts. When we recruited Percy out of high school we were made aware of some issues. He’s a very competitive guy and his temper can get the best of him. It certainly did in high school. …But we did our research and it showed he had to harness his energies through staying focused on getting better. …Everything is very controllable with Percy. …He has got the best first step I have ever seen. I keep hearing Reggie Bush. I never coached against Reggie Bush, but I have watched highlights. [Percy is just] a phenomenal player. He’s very unique.” –Urban Meyer, Florida head coach

“I’ve always been good with getting things out in the open. I knew it [questions about the positive drug test] was a question that had to be answered. I had no problems with answering it. With these coaches, I opened up to them and they opened up to me. When it got to those subjects, the only thing I could do was tell them the truth, be up front and let them judge me from there. We had a great respect for each other. Them picking me shows they believed in me. I got their back and they got mine. I’m just looking forward to becoming a Viking. …There's no better situation for me to come into. This is where I truly want to be.” -Harvin

“That’s who I was hoping we were going to get. When the day started I didn’t think he would be around when we were going to pick, but thankfully he was. Clearly he’s a good addition and I look at him as a playmaker. He’s going to get a lot of chances in our offense to show what he can do and he’s going to be able to spread the defense out and give us another dimension. Defenses aren’t going to be able to give as much attention to the run with him on the field. He’s shown that’s he’s explosive and fast and I look at him as a game-changer. I wish him the best and I know he’s going to do a great job for us. He’s going to learn that hard work will pay off. To be great in the NFL you have to do the extra work on your own and know that playbook inside and out. His speed will help him adjust to the NFL, but it won’t be easy. If he can relax and play his game, he’s going to be fine.” –Adrian Peterson

 “I know Percy, and maybe I’m biased, but you can’t judge anybody if you've never met them before. Every time I’ve been around him, it’s positive stuff. He's a good guy. You can’t tell me one guy who doesn’t want the ball and doesn't want to compete. That’s just his mindset. Some people think that's selfish, I think it's competitive. He's one of the most competitive persons I’ve been around. I don't see what's wrong with that.” -TE Cornelius Ingram, college teammate (fifth-round pick by Eagles)

“Every time I saw Percy Harvin, he was the best player on the field – and that included two National Championship games.” –Cris Carter

“After the Vikings selected WR Percy Harvin with the 22nd overall pick, one GM told me, ‘Wow. You put (Adrian) Peterson and Harvin on the same field at the same time … that’s a potential TD from anywhere at any time.’ A source from Minnesota suggests that (Harvin) could be a 10-touchdown guy next year … and five of them could be from 50-plus (yards).” –Scott Hanson, NFL Network

“Harvin is an explosive play maker who knows how to create with the ball in his hands. He gives the Vikings a lot of options on offense and I would compare his potential impact on the Vikings to the one Chris Johnson had last year for the Tennessee Titans.” –National Football Post

“He should be able to use Harvin in the same way that he used Brian Westbrook in Philadelphia. Harvin is a dynamic talent, but major character questions eliminated him from many draft boards. Nonetheless, if the Vikings had not pulled the trigger, there was a good chance Bill Belichick or Bill Parcells would have done so with one of the next two picks. Harvin is super-competitive and could be an impact player if he can stay out of trouble.” –Nolan Nawrocki, Pro Football Weekly

“Harvin is a multi-purpose skill player who possesses great speed and the ability to score from any point on the field. He can be used in a variety of roles, and a creative offensive coordinator will find ways to get him the ball as a receiver or running reverses. Harvin also has potential as a return specialist, which only adds to his value. He has the ability to be a big-time player at the next level if he can stay healthy, focus on the team, and stay under control at all times.” –SI.com

“You could hear the Packers' draft room groan when the Vikings fell into Harvin, one of the draft's very best playmakers. OK, Harvin has tested positive for marijuana, but few teams really knocked him for that. They were more concerned with his injury woes. But there is no questioning his 4.4 speed and his ability to score. Behind Tim Tebow, he was Florida's best player the last couple of seasons. Yes, some would say that Sage Rosenfels and Tarvaris Jackson aren't the quarterback answer in Minnesota, but there is no question the offense has some playmakers in Adrian Peterson, Bernard Berrian and now Harvin.” –John Czarnecki, Fox NFL Sunday

“Minnesota gets a tremendous playmaker. There are some personality and durablility issues with Harvin, but the Vikings now have enough good character players on their team to not let it affect them. It's a bit of a luxury pick.” –The War Room

“Harvin is a game changer that can score any time he touches the ball. He can catch the ball as a receiver, run out of the backfield or on reverses, and even see time as a return man. This kid is a difference maker and was always the first or second best player on the field for a very talented Florida team in a loaded SEC. The big concern with Harvin is that he’s not real big and has a propensity to get banged up because he takes so many hits in the open field. Durability may be a concern projecting him forward into the NFL. He played multiple positions for the Gators, but he’ll have to define himself as a wide receiver at the next level. Still, Harvin is a Reggie Bush-type dynamo, as he’s currently used with the Saints. Provided he can stay healthy and proved durable, Harvin has the potential to be a very electrifying difference maker at the pro level. Like (Jeremy) Maclin, he will also need some time to transition as true wide-out, with route running the area he will need work on.” -Mel Kiper, Jr.

"This guy is one of those guys, whether he's driving a Ferrari, a Cadillac, a Volkswagen – if he even goes to Disneyland and drives the little cars that run on the rail – he’s going to have a wreck. So you better have a good body and fender man. …There's going to be some things you have to deal with and you know that, but this guy is an explosive player.” -Herm Edwards, former Chiefs coach

“The Vikings were losers, because I think they're going rue the day they selected Florida receiver Percy Harvin, this draft's poster-child for character issues. It's not just the marijuana use in Harvin's background, it's the widespread reports that he's a bit of a punk who believes the world revolves around him.” -Don Banks, SI.com

Other links:

Scout.com player page

VU.com story

College Bio

NFL Network

Harvin intro press conference

Scouts, Inc.

Harvin highlights Florida 2008 (YouTube)

Harvin (YouTube)

Wikipedia

Orlando Sentinel photo gallery

NFLDraftScout.com newswire

PalmBeachPost.com story

SI.com story

DraftCountdown.com

GatorSports.com article

Harvin vs. Vanderbilt (YouTube)

Facebook fan page

FFToolbox.com

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