Otto Kitsinger III
Harper's Scouting Combine is over with...was he able to impress teams even over the din of his grinding left knee?
Weight: 211 lbs.
40 time: 4.52 seconds (6th in group)
Bench press: 23 reps of 225 lbs. (10th in group)
Who they're comparing him to: Cedric Peerman (I didn't know either)
How did he do?
Harper showed pretty well at the combine—posting the 6th fastest 40 time among running backs and coming away with a 58.8 grade, which equates to "draftable", or more specifically, a player that is expected to go between the 4th and 7th round of the draft. Harper is a productive and high-character prospect that I'm sure many teams with depth concerns at RB would love to take a flyer on. The elephant in the room, obviously, is the one that stomped on Harper's left knee twice—tearing his ACL in the process. Clearly, Harper hasn't suffered many ill effects the last two seasons and showed well enough at the combine to assuage (heard this word in a movie, have been dying to use it) many fears. It didn't get any headlines, but I'm sure one area that Harper shined at the combine was in his interviews. He's a team player through and through and has had no off-field issues during his time in Boise. Sadly, we know that many teams don't put the highest premiums on character—but if a team did think that Harper was a stretch given his medical history, at least they can rest assured he'll do whatever is asked of him with no complaint.
What they're saying
"He is much more comfortable bouncing to the outside than running in the middle, but that will be less of a concern to teams than his medicals." —NFL.com
"The success of rookie Doug Martin certainly doesn't hurt Harper's stock...not afraid of lowering his shoulder and was a capable receiver in a limited role." —DCProSportsReport
"DJ Harper is a consummate teammate and leader. He's like a son to me, but it's weird because I'm only 10 years older than him." —OBNUG
Who needs him?
The sad reality is that teams DO care about Harper's injury-plagued history. He's probably done enough in the last two seasons to calm some nerves, but unless he'd tested off the charts, I still think teams will be reluctant to reach for Harper before round 4 or 5. I think a team like the Redskins or Falcons could take a hard look at Harper in the later rounds. His versatility should make him an attractive pick up for those types of offense.
We here at OBNUG are pretty rabid homers...I mean, Kevan Lee once described Sean King as "a sure-fire first round pick—the next Tony Gonzalez", so my take might not mean as much, but I'd like to think that Harper is a round 4–7 steal. The Doug Martin effect may indeed pay dividends for Harper this year and I think he can be a productive #2 back in the league and even a future starter if he lands in the right system. Harper has plenty of game film to underscore the point that he hasn't become one-dimensional after knee surgeries and I think he's a definite value add for any team willing to pick him up.