Pros: Has a good arm capable of making all the throws. Gets good zip and shows good ability as a vertical passer. Is capable on the short routes. Does a decent job throwing on the run and shows some mobility. Utilizes the pump fake.
Cons: Makes poor decisions. Holds onto the ball too long and stands statuesque in the pocket. Needs to improve his footwork in the pocket and doesn't do a great job evading the rush. Will force some throws, trusting his arm too much. His poor mechanics lead to inconsistent accuracy. Needs to improve his touch and anticipation, particularly on the deep throws.
Overview: Harper struggled early on in the year, but his play seemed to improve once Bowden was ﬁred in Clemson. He was critical of his former head coach once he was ﬁred, and why I didn't really like that reaction, the proof seemed to be in the pudding and he and the team was better once Bowden was gone. Clemson's offense overly relied on the screen pass to move the ball in the air, which indicated to me that the coaching staff didn't really trust Harper. I liked what Harper did in the bowl game vs. Boston College last year, where he ﬂashed potential as a future NFL starter. That game was a primary reason why he was considered a potential ﬁrst rounder entering the season. Finished career 16-8 as starter, 63.6% completions, and 42:20 TD-INT ratio. He hails from Alpharetta, GA.
NFL Forecast: If you can sit Harper for a number of years, and let him learn one offense, I think he has a chance to live up to his potential. But he's too inconsistent and makes too many poor decisions to really like his future right now. If you can develop him quietly on a bench for three or so years, then he has a chance. But if you put him out there too soon, he'll be quickly out of the league. He's the kind of player that you'd love to send to a lesser league and let them develop him for a couple of years before you sign him. He has starter's upside, but he is really going to have to be managed well in order to achieve it. He reminds you a lot of J.P. Losman. He has the ability, but is essentially untrustworthy as a starter because of his decision making.
ATL Forecast: Harper could work in Atlanta, but he's too inconsistent and raw to like his chances of sticking early. He could land on the practice squad, but he's not quite ready to be a backup. And because of his inconsistent style of play, he doesn't project all that well as a backup. What he would potentially be in Atlanta as in most cities, is as an insurance policy in case the current starter and future of the franchise struggles down the road. But he would be far from my ﬁrst choice as an insurance policy in case of the demise of Ryan.
Value: I probably wouldn't draft him, but it wouldn't be crazy to use a seventh rounder for a team looking for a long-term insurance policy at the No. 3 spot.
Scouting Reports of quarterbacks in the 2009 NFL draft.
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