JBB Draft Profile: Josh Harper, WR, Fresno State – A Familiar Face for Carr

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Nov 2, 2013; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Josh Harper (3) catches a pass during the third quarter of the game against the Nevada Wolf Pack at Bulldog Stadium. Fresno State won 41-23. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports

Skills & Intangibles

Harper, unlike his linebacker father, is a lanky player who doesn’t have particularly great size at 6’1″ and about 185 pounds. He has spent most of his college career playing the Z receiver position, allowing him to move in motion, avoid most press techniques, and catch a lot of quick screens and short crossing patterns and slants. That said, he has an incredible array of physical tools and ball skills that allow him to get past defenders on deep routes, locate and catch deep balls, and get good yardage after the catch. Against weaker cornerbacks, he is capable of defeating press, and has speed in the high 4.4 range with great acceleration that allows him to get past corners on deep routes. He has very sure hands at the end of his long arms, and is able to get up over shorter defenders and make contested catches.

Because of his less than ideal size and strength, Harper does not appear to be a receiver that is ready to face NFL-caliber press corners right away and may be better in a slot technique at the next level because of his speed and experience running crossing patterns and quick slants. He is not a very good downfield blocker, but because of his excellent run-after-catch skills he could be useful on designed screen plays. His great speed will obviously translate well in the NFL, as he can stretch the field deep and because he has the ability to make contested deep catches, will draw the attention of deep zone defenders. He has a great skill set and long experience catching the ball from the Raiders’ starting quarterback, but is still a developmental project: he will need to add some strength and muscle weight in order to be a full-time starting NFL wide receiver. Harper also has some question marks about his durability, having missed 12 games with injuries over the course of his college career.

As a fifth-year season and one of the few remaining starters on the Fresno State offense, Harper has been thrust into a leadership position on the team and is in many ways the face of Fresno State Football in the local media market. Fresno State has had struggles finding a quarterback, recently promoting a redshirt freshman with eight career passing attempts to the starting job, and Harper has apparently been the stabilizing force and calm voice for the program in the media and in the locker room, as well as on the field. While not much has been said about his work ethic, his consistency and improvements in his route running over his college career suggest that he works hard in practice and in the offseason. He hasn’t had any glaring character issues, and has in the past spent time working out with fellow Stockton-area high school product and NFL receiver Brandin Cooks.