Few players had as much positive hype surrounding them heading into the draft as Harvin. Florida coach Urban Meyer raved about his game-changing ability. Scouts said they saw explosiveness in him that they hadn't seen in other players in years. He was special, that's for sure. But, like former No. 2 overall pick Reggie Bush, he needed to be used properly to be effective.
We got to see that on display Sunday, as Harvin's jack-of-all-trades persona was on display. In limited use Sunday, Harvin led the team with three receptions for 36 yards, scored the Vikings' only receiving touchdown, took two motion reverses for 22 yards and returned three kickoffs for 99 yards – including a 41-yard return to start the second half that helped turn the momentum of the game with the Vikings trailing 13-10 at halftime.
It seemed every time Harvin touched the ball, something good happened. When he scored his touchdown, nobody seemed more excited than veteran QB Brett Favre, who did in the end zone what few defenders have been able to in the field of play – make a clean tackle to bring down Harvin.
But Sunday's performance may be just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how the team uses Harvin. Anyone who has followed Bush's career knows that he is at his most dangerous when he is in motion – whether he actually gets the ball or not. Watching film of Bush has shown his true value. Where a player going in motion typically affects only the defender who has him in coverage, but when Bush goes in motion, four of five defenders move consistently. With the weapons the Vikings have on offense, getting defenders on the move and out of position not only could open things up for Harvin, but for the other skill position players as well.
One of Favre's assets to the team already is that he has seemingly taken Harvin under his wing. With a lot more pressure to produce from the slot with the release of Bobby Wade last week, Harvin has been personally tutored by Favre, who has a history of making stars out of receivers that didn't have a lot of buzz surrounding them initially. When Favre started his Hall of Fame climb in Green Bay, he had one of the best in the business as a go-to receiver in Sterling Sharpe. But, as the years progressed, Favre helped develop stars in guys like Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, Donald Driver and Greg Jennings. Drafting wide receivers is always a gamble, because many more fail to become superstars (Troy Williamson) than actually do (Randy Moss). With Favre on his side and looking to be a mentor, the sky could be the limit for Harvin.
If Sunday's game proved anything, it's that Adrian Peterson is still the star of this team. But, while Favre quietly went about his business, it was clear that opportunities are going to be there for the likes of Visanthe Shiancoe, Sidney Rice and Bernard Berrian. Yet, perhaps the brightest receiving star of them all could be Harvin, who, if he keeps doing the things he did Sunday, will suddenly be involved in the discussion for Rookie of the Year.