Combine height: 5-11
Combine weight: 192 pounds
Combine 40 time: 4.41 seconds
Though his numbers were tempered by an injury late in the year, Harvin still caught 40 balls for 644 yards and seven touchdowns, with 70 carries for 668 yards (9.5 yards per carry) and 10 touchdowns on the ground. For his three-year Gator career, Harvin had 133 catches for 1,929 yards and 13 touchdowns as a receiver and 194 carries for 1,905 yards (9.8 yards per carry) and 19 touchdowns as a runner.
With all due respect to Jeremy Maclin, Harvin is the most dynamic playmaker in this year’s draft. While his 4.41 40 at the Combine was slower than expected, few doubt Harvin’s wheels. And it’s not just straight-line speed; Harvin has burst off the line, gets to top speed quickly, explodes out of cuts and is a killer in the open field. Unlike some other track stars, however, Harvin also has excellent hands and isn’t afraid to go into traffic to make the tough catch. As his stats indicate, Harvin is not just a threat in the passing game but also as a rusher, and though he wasn’t used as a return man at Florida the NFL plans to take full advantage of his vision, balance, and elusiveness in that capacity as well.
Of course, Harvin doesn’t come to the NFL without question marks. Despite a powerful build he’s a little on the small side, and coming from the spread offense Harvin may be behind the curve with his route-running. There are also plenty of durability concerns; his list of nicks in college includes neck, hip, hamstring, knee, and ankle as well as heel surgery. Finally, the legacy of Florida receivers in the NFL is not particularly strong; it’s been more than 20 years since a Gator wideout made it to the Pro Bowl.
While Harvin’s playmaking ability would be welcome on any NFL roster, his durability (or perceived lack thereof) likely push him down at least to seventh, where the Raiders are always on the lookout for speed and have a definite need at receiver. Realistically, Harvin isn’t expected to go off the board until the second half of round one, with the Jets (17) sans Laveranues Coles a logical fit—followed in short order by the Bears (18), Bucs (19), and Eagles (21). The Vikings at 22 are a popular landing spot for Harvin in many mock drafts; others have him lasting until the end of Round One, with the Colts (27) and Titans (30) as interested parties.
After watching Harvin make big plays in the national championship game despite a bad ankle, there is little question he can have an impact at the NFL level. He’s part Reggie Bush—a great runner but not a pure running back—and part Devin Hester—at least that’s the plan, given Hester’s abilities in the open field—but he may need some time to settle into a role on Sundays. That said, he’s a threat to go the distance every time he touches the ball, and you have to believe any team that spends a first-round pick on Harvin will have a plan for doing just that. Considering that Bush had nine touchdowns as a rookie with the Saints trying to make him into a feature back and Hester scored five without seeing much if any action from scrimmage, Harvin has upside—especially in big-play leagues where longer touchdowns score bonus points. But it’s unlikely you’ll need to treat him as anything more than a fourth back or wideout at your fantasy draft.
It’s possible that whatever team drafts Harvin has learned from watching how the Saints used Bush and the learning curve won’t be as great—for either player or team. And there’s no denying Harvin’s considerable upside as a playmaker in the NFL, be it as a receiver, running back, return man or some hybrid position created just for him. That upside must be weighed against the durability concerns that are sure to rear their ugly head over the course of his NFL career, and much like in the real draft it’s bound to hold down Harvin’s value on a dynasty league draft board as well. Still, a home-run threat has its place on a fantasy roster, and if Harvin finds his niche quickly he could make an intriguing clean-up hitter for your fantasy team.