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2015 NFL Draft: Texas WR John Harris scouting report

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Persistence and a rapport with Tyrone Swoopes helped the Longhorns wide receiver break out as a senior.

Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

Texas Longhorns wide receiver John Harris could have taken the easy way out.

Out of the rotation following a disappointing junior season that included a failed transition to tight end, the former four-star prospect considered quitting or transferring to Texas Tech in an effort to become the next Jace Amaro.

Instead, he re-committed himself to the Texas program under the new coaching staff, dropped to 218 pounds from 225 pounds, and built on the connection he established with quarterback Tyrone Swoopes on the scout team in 2013.

The result?

The first 1,000-yard season for a Texas receiver since Jordan Shipley in 2009 as Harris made numerous big plays, including what ended up being the game-winning catch against Iowa State. One of only six receivers in school history to surpass 1,000 receiving yards, Harris did so on 68 catches, producing seven touchdowns in the process.

Entering the 2014 campaign, Harris had only nine receptions for 180 yards over his previous three seasons.

Since his breakout senior season wasn't enough to earn an invite to the NFL Scouting Combine, Harris had to impress during the Texas Pro Timing Day in March and turned in a solid effort:

40 time Vert Broad jump Shuttle 3-cone Bench press
4.57 seconds 33.5 inches 9 feet 10 inches 4.45 seconds 6.82 seconds 19 reps

He measured in at 6'2 and 213 pounds.

Strengths

  • Big-play ability -- Some numbers provided by the Longhorn Network provide perspective on Harris' season. Of those 68 catches, 75% went for a first down or a touchdown, the second-highest percentage among the top 43 in receptions. He also had 15 catches for 20 yards or more, including his 68-yard reception against Texas Tech.
  • Ball skills -- There were a handful of times during the season when Harris went up for 50-50 balls and was able to come down with them because he does have strong hands and often simply wanted the ball more than the opposing defensive back. Besides pure effort, he also has a talent for high-pointing the football.
  • Blocking ability -- With his big frame and a willingness to work hard, Harris was an effective and consistent down-field blocker during his senior season.
  • Perseverance -- Despite the lack of success after arriving at Texas, Harris stuck it out and took advantage of the opportunity provided by the new coaching staff.
  • Solid testing numbers -- Harris is far from an elite athlete, running a sub-3.6 40-yard dash is a solid time for a 213-pound outside receiver. His low 40 time was even more impressive, as at least one scout at the Texas Pro Timing Day had him at 4.49 and the unofficial time Alex Dunlap of Orangebloods got was 4.50.
  • Special teams experience -- Harris played on each special teams unit during his career at Texas and the ability to contribute in that phase could help him land on a roster.

Weaknesses

  • Questionable hands -- Harris dropped numerous passes in the 2014 season that he should have made. Combined with his lack of film from other seasons, scouts would justifiably have concerns about his ability to consistently come down with easy catches.
  • Possible one-year wonder -- Was the breakout season from Harris merely a fluke? It's impossible to rule it out.
  • Lacks elite size/speed combination -- Put together, the height and speed of Harris don't necessarily set him apart from a handful of other wide receivers ranked in the same range.

Draft projection -- Undrafted free agent

Optimum Scouting ranks Harris as the No. 65 wide receiver, well behind teammate Jaxon Shipley and well into undrafted free agent territory. A scout from the San Diego Chargers spoke with Harris after the Texas Pro Timing Day, so that could be a franchise interested in signing him if he does go undrafted, as expected.