Oakland Raiders Film Room: The Carr-Harper Connection

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Sep 13, 2014; Fresno, CA, USA; Fresno State Bulldogs wide receiver Josh Harper (3) tries to break free from the hold of Nebraska Cornhuskers cornerback Josh Mitchell (5) after making a catch in the first quarter at Bulldog Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

Derek Carr has targets. Legitimate, productive, potentially dangerous targets. I’m not sure people are really appreciating how incredible it is to say that. We’re not saying Derek Carr has a target. We’re saying targets; plural, as in more than one. For a long time Raiders fan to know that our beloved team has more than one reliable person for our rising franchise quarterback to throw to is a little slice of pigskin heaven. The last time there were multiple legitimately productive ball-catchers on the Raiders’ roster we were talking about future Hall-of-Famers (yeah, Streater/Moore/Ford doesn’t count on this level).

Luckily for Derek Carr, the last time he had multiple threatening receivers was only a couple of years ago back at Fresno State. In 2013, a Carr-powered spread offense totaled over 5000 yards passing, including one 1000 yard receiving running back & three 1000 yard wide receivers. In case it wasn’t absolutely clear to the world, Reggie McKenzie has placed a huge focus on supercharging the Raiders’ offense to give Derek Carr a similar environment of receivers to work with. The addition of Michael Crabtree, the drafting of Amari Cooper & Clive Walford, and late round pick Andre Dubose have all worked toward the goal of getting the Raiders further down the field and into the end-zone more often in 2015.

One man with the shot to make a place of their own in the new Raiders offense is former Fresno State Bulldogs teammate Josh Harper. Harper comes in as an undrafted free agent competing on a roster with 11 wide receivers for what may end up being 5 or 6 slots. While his work may be cut out for him, his friendship and chemistry with Derek Carr may give him a slight edge in the competition. As we breakdown his strengths and weaknesses we’ll see that despite his roughness, his skill set is something which could prove extremely valuable to the Carr-led Oakland offense.

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First the measurables.

Harper measured at 6’1″, 191 lbs. at the NFL Combine. This is an interesting height weight combination. It makes him a little small for an outside receiver (Cooper weighed 211 at 6’1″ for comparison), and taller than your average slot receiver. He could stand to gain some weight, but if we’re being honest he doesn’t have a shot at playing outside for at least the first season barring injury as he’ll likely be the 4th or 5th receiver on the field.

His combine 40 yard dash was 4.64 – as a 191 lb. wide receiver. To put that in perspective here are a few players with similar or faster speeds: UCLA DE Omawagbe Odighizuwa (4.62, 267 lbs); Florida OLB Dante Fowler, Jr (4.60, 261 lbs); UCLA QB Brett Hundley (4.63, 226 lbs). To be fair, he did run a 4.52 at his Pro Day, but those tend to be more favorable for the players. Yes, straight out speed is an issue. And yes, I know that Jerry Rice and Anquan Boldin ran 4.71 40 yard dash times, and Larry Fitzgerald was known for his 4.63 dash and so on. Jerry Rice was by far the most dominant receiver out of college. Boldin plays at 225 lbs. Fitzgerald is 6’3″, 218 lbs.

Harper also doesn’t have particularly large hands (8 3/4″) or that high of a vertical leap (31 1/2″) if you care for such measurements. Bottom line is that he’s not a physical beast. Neither was Tim Brown. If Harper wants to make this roster he’ll have to focus on using his amazing quickness, his fantastic ability to find the holes in the defense, and his world-class catching ability (just like Brown did) to find a home for himself in Oakland.

Next: The Game Film