Justin Hardy   WR/ST   East Carolina


Justin has talent similar to Ravens receiver Steve Smith and former Patriots receiver Wes Welker. He runs strong routes like Smith; he doesnít have his overall speed, but he does have the lateral quickness. Justin shows on film the strength in his route running to be physical in spite of his size and matches up well as a slot receiver or what I like to call a mover receiver. He shows on film the good hands to catch the ball and make some yardage after the catch. He is very quarterback friendly, coming back to the ball off his routes to help his quarterback out when the pass rush is too much for the offensive line to handle. He does a good job adjusting to the ball in the air. He is more quick than fast and seems to be fearless going over the middle, catching the ball. He has no problem catching the ball with defensive players hanging all over him. He likes to make the third down catch that moves the chains and, in a short passing offense, Justin could impact with the quarterback throwing to him.

Justinís size will make most teams feel he is not a match-up nightmare in the slot. He does a good job catching the ball, but seems to struggle when reaching out limiting his catch radius. He likes the ball close to his body and that means he needs to be paired up with an accurate quarterback to be effective. He is strong running his routes, but against press coverage, he has to learn better techniques to free himself up quicker. Justin is the type of receiver that the longer the route he runs, the easier it is to cover him; therefore, inside the fifty yard line and on third downs is when he can impact the most.

Justin can return punts and that alone will keep him in the league until he can learn better techniques to get off press coverage. He will not be much of an impact player unless he gets into the right situation and is used the way the Patriots used Wes Welker. In spite of the fact I compared his strong route running to Steve Smith, trust me when I say this: Justin is no Steve Smith. He could be if he gains confidence running his routes down the field, but I donít think Justin will ever become a starting receiver in the NFL. Nevertheless, he could become an impact receiver and special teams player in the right offensive system and with a very accurate quarterback. Justin works well with what I call Tight End routes ten to twenty yards off the line of scrimmage. He does a good job gaining some yardage after the catch as well, but for him to be effective moving the chains is how he can become a valuable chess piece for an offense. Like I said, he is a Wes Welker type of receiver who in the right system could have an excellent career at the NFL level. I think of Justin as a chess piece who can be moved around the offense like the Knight. The knight alternates its square color each time it moves and is the only piece that jumps over any other piece. You move Justin around the offense like the Patriots move Julian Edelman and Wes Welker, jumping all over the place, off or on the line scrimmage and he can make 1st downs.

Drew Boylhart