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Kelvin Harmon Could Be the NFL’s Next Star WR

By Dave Holcomb
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This spring, it’s possible he becomes a first-round pick but even if he isn’t, all evaluators seem to agree he has the ability to become a star NFL wide receiver.

When it comes to NFL mock drafts, quarterbacks drive the conversation. In the ACC, there’s no bigger conversation starter than N.C. State signal caller Ryan Finley, who is likely going to receive a mixture of draft grades over the next three months.

But he won’t be the top player selected from the Wolfpack offense this spring. That will be his favorite target -- wide receiver Kelvin Harmon.

The 21-year-old decided to forego his senior season and enter the 2019 NFL Draft after leading the ACC in receiving in 2018. He recorded 81 catches for 1,186 receiving yards with seven touchdowns and posted those numbers despite not playing in the Gator Bowl against Texas A&M. Harmon elected to sit out the bowl game and protect his NFL future.

In 40 games with N.C. State, Harmon made 177 catches for 2,958 yards and 17 touchdowns. This spring, it’s possible he becomes a first-round pick but even if he isn’t, all evaluators seem to agree he has the ability to become a star NFL wide receiver.

Pro Football Focus has him slotted as a late first-round selection in their latest mock draft. The Draft Network raved about him too, calling him a “true alpha” who had a great “blend of size, physicality, ball skills and fluidity.”

“By year three, Harmon has the upside to be relied upon as a true No. 1 receiver that keeps the chains moving, hits big plays and thrives in the red zone,” The Draft Network staff wrote.

That perfect blend of size and skill helped Harmon posted back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons. As a sophomore, he finished second in the ACC with 1,017 receiving yards last year.

Harmon landed with the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 25 in the PFF mock draft that was released on Jan. 15. But interestingly, in that mock draft, three receivers were ahead of Harmon.

Five years ago, Harmon would have been a slam dunk to go in the first round as a consensus top-four wide receiver. However, recent history suggests it’s not a sure thing.

Since the historic 2014 receiver group, wideouts drafted in the first round have turned into busts more often than not. It’s resulted in a steady decline of receivers taken in the first round.

Number of receivers drafted in first round:
2014 - five
2015 - six
2016 - four
2017 - three
2018 - two

The terrible 2015 first-round receiver class was the beginning of the decline. Here are the six first-round wideouts and their draft positions from 2015:

Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders, No. 4
Kevin White, Chicago Bears, No. 7
DeVante Parker, Miami Dolphins, No. 14
Nelson Agholor, USC, No. 20
Breshad Perriman, Baltimore Ravens, No. 26
Phillip Dorsett, Indianapolis Colts, No. 29

The 2016 draft didn’t help either:

Corey Coleman, Cleveland Browns, No. 15
Will Fuller, Houston Texans, No. 21
Josh Doctson, Washington Redskins, No. 22
Laquon Treadwell, Minnesota Vikings, No. 23

The 2017 and 2018 first-round wide receivers have been a little better but not significantly:

Corey Davis, Tennessee Titans, No. 5
Mike Williams, Los Angeles Chargers, No. 7
John Ross, Cincinnati Bengals, No. 9

D.J. Moore, Carolina Panthers, No. 24
Calvin Ridley, Atlanta Falcons, No. 26

Keep in mind that a shallower receiver class could have also resulted in fewer wideouts going in the first round the last three years. But still, because of the decline, it’s worth wondering -- because of the deep receiver class this year -- will there be more wideouts chosen in the first round in 2019 or will there be great receivers still available in the second round?

According to Walter Football, Harmon probably won’t have to worry about going in the first round; they project him to be a second or third-round pick. Walter Football also said he’s a “good run-after-the-catch receiver with toughness and generally reliable hands” but ranked him as the sixth-best receiver in the class.

Based on recent history, going in the second round won’t be the worst thing in the world for Harmon. Plenty of star receivers fell out of the first round the last three years.

Second-round receivers taken from 2016-18:

Sterling Shepard, New York Giants, No. 40
Michael Thomas, New Orleans Saints, No. 47
Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati Bengals, No. 55

Zay Jones, Buffalo Bills, No. 37
Curtis Samuel, Carolina Panthers, No. 40
JuJu Smith-Schuster, Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 62

Courtland Sutton, Denver Broncos, No. 40
Dante Pettis, San Francisco 49ers, No. 44
Christian Kirk, Arizona Cardinals, No. 47
Anthony Miller, Chicago Bears, No. 51
James Washington, Pittsburgh Steelers, No. 60
D.J. Chark, Jacksonville Jaguars, No. 61

Furthermore, Cooper Kupp and Kenny Golladay were notable third-round wide receiver selections in the last three years.

The only true impact Harmon will feel if he doesn’t go in the first round will be on his wallet. This fact is true at every position, but particularly at wide receiver. Harmon will have a chance to shine whether he goes in the first, second or third round.

The draft evaluators may not agree on which round he will land, but they all project his skill set to keep him in the league for a long time.