NEPD Staff Writer: Mike Gerken
Could this week go any slower? Waiting for the Super Bowl to get here while trying to avoid anymore “deflategate” talk has been exhausting. Thankfully, there are hundreds of hours of film that still need to be watched and reports like this one to be written. I will be honest, my intention was not to watch wide receivers today, and Hardy was certainly not the guy I thought I would be writing about tonight. He was a guy I didn’t know a whole lot about, but I stumbled on some film of his, and then I decided I needed to watch more. Next thing you know, I have notes from 7 games, so here is what I saw.Name: Justin Hardy
School: East Carolina University (Sr.)
Weight: 190 Lbs.
Hardy is a very smooth and fluid athlete. He plays bigger than his size. He tracks the ball well and high points the ball nicely. Hardy is elusive after the catch, showing an ability to weave through traffic. Dispite his size, he shows toughness and a willingness to fight for extra yards. He is not afraid to lower his shoulder and hit someone. Hardy has impressive hands, showing the ability to make difficult catches in traffic and rarely lets the ball get into his body. Hardy has good field awareness and does a nice job of sitting down in an open zone and make himself a big target. He shows good quickness at the snap and in his routes.
Hardy played in an offense that limited his development from a route running perspective. He ran a lot of bubble screens and routes in the 7 to 10 yard range. Hardy looks to be quicker than fast and may struggle to get separation if asked to run more complex routes. He is not a home run threat and couple that with his size and he is probably limited to the slot at the next level. Hardy can struggle at times with press coverage when the defender is able to get their hands on him. In college, he was able to use his superb quickness and burst to beat it in college, but will need to get stronger and use his hands better in the NFL.
I had a lot of fun watching Hardy. In my notes, I just kept writing words like: quick, shifty, elusive, fluid, and smooth. He won’t wow you with his size or speed, but he uses that quickness to his advantage and just made plays. He made his quarterback look good rather than the other way around. He seems like a smart player, showing the ability to read the defense and find the open zones. Obviously the Patriots have a few guys with similar size and skill set, so I am not sure they will be looking to add another one, but they have continued to draft these type of guys over they years, so who knows. I give Hardy a solid second round grade and if he falls, could be a really nice value.