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Hardy Could Be The Falcons Secret Weapon


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CBS SPORTS: JUSTIN HARDY COULD BE SECRET WEAPON

Posted Jul 9, 2015

Andrew Hirsh

atlantafalcons.com

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When the Falcons and Harry Douglas parted ways, the team knew it had to add a young receiver. Justin Hardy, perhaps one of the most underrated picks this year, fits the bill.

VIEW GALLERY | 15 Photos

In The Studio With Coleman and Hardy

As the NFL continues its shift back to pass-happy league, more and more wide receivers are flourishing as rookies. We saw it last year, as premier talents like Odell Beckham, Mike Evans and Jarvis Landry, along with depth WRs such as Donte Moncrief, Davante Adams and Martavis Bryant made appreciable impacts.

Odds are the 2015 class wont be as illustrious it'd have to be historically good to reach such heights but there are still a number of intriguing prospects who can step in right away. One plays here in Atlanta.

Drafted in the fourth round, Justin Hardy has garnered a lot of praise for his work at East Carolina University, where he broke the school record for career receiving yards. With big hands, sharp route-running and stout blocking skills, he has the makeup needed to immediately jump in the slot. CBS Sports college football writer Brian Jones agrees.

Other than (Julio) Jones, the Falcons need a spark on offense to get them over the hump. Hardy has all the tools to be that guy, and the good thing about Hardy is, opposing teams know little about what he can do, Jones said. But when the seasons begins in two months, the entire NFL will know how much of a weapon Hardy is, which could lead to the Falcons getting back to where they were in 2012.

The Falcons had little trouble passing the ball in 2014 they finished second and fifth in catches and receiving yards, respectively but developing young wide receivers now is still extremely crucial. Roddy White is on the back nine of his career and will have to be replaced at some point, and Harry Douglas departure has left a sizeable hole in the depth chart.

For the Falcons to remain consistently dangerous through the air, Hardy, among others, will need to become reliable targets. That would have a powerful effect both in the short- and long-term.

Jones and White will get the attention of opposing defenses, Jones said. But if Hardy is able to get better during training camp and preseason, Ryan will go to him consistently, and that will make the defenses think twice about focusing on the two primary receivers.

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Let's see if he can:

1) make the roster (almost certainly)

2) beat Hankerson for the #3 spot (Hankerson isn't very good, but he is a veteran)

3) get open against NFL defenders (I highly doubt he will do so as a rookie, but he may learn how to do so eventually)

before anointing him as Roddy's successor and our "secret weapon". This article is ridiculous. Hardy is a 4th round rookie. Expecting him to be the savior of the franchise while this young, this inexperienced, and this limited is unfair to him, and is only setting yourself up to be unfairly disappointed in him. Give him a year or two to develop before even BEGINNING to have any expectations for him.

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Let's see if he can:

1) make the roster (almost certainly)

2) beat Hankerson for the #3 spot (Hankerson isn't very good, but he is a veteran)

3) get open against NFL defenders (I highly doubt he will do so as a rookie, but he may learn how to do so eventually)

before anointing him as Roddy's successor and our "secret weapon". This article is ridiculous. Hardy is a 4th round rookie. Expecting him to be the savior of the franchise while this young, this inexperienced, and this limited is unfair to him, and is only setting yourself up to be unfairly disappointed in him. Give him a year or two to develop before even BEGINNING to have any expectations for him.

Disagree Hankerson isn't very good. He's been injury prone, but if he can stay out of doc office he could be a bigger piece to passing game than most realize, as will Tamme, as will Hardy.

But the most exciting thing we did to open up this offense is draft Coleman, IMO. That threat will open up passing game more than anyone else.

Edited by Vandy
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I agree hyping him too much sets him up for disappointment. But it can happen. Marques Colston was 6th round pick and his 1st year was 70, 1038, & 8 TDs. 2nd year was 98, 1202, & 11 TDs. Its not totally inconceivable.

It's NOT inconceivable.

It IS unlikely.

There is a misconception that I am somehow disrespecting Hardy, or that I think "he sucks" as one idio--- errmmm--- one person mistakenly assumed. But let's be realistic: mid-late round gems are good stories BECAUSE they are rarities.

Some people seem to think that Harry Douglas was some pathetic lame schlub who did nothing right. The truth is that Harry Douglas was a fine #3 wide receiver in the NFL. He was a successful, productive, albeit limited and flawed, receiver. He was too mediocre to be a long term answer as a #1 or even a #2, although he filled in as such adequately when injury forced him to. Harry Douglas was a fairly productive, fairly average, fairly mediocre NFL player playing a position that doesn't demand much more than being "fairly average, fairly mediocre". Still, there are thousands of receivers with big collegiate resumes that can't manage even this fairly low bar.

Can Hardy be as successful as HD? Of course it's possible. As I said, it is not a Herculean hurdle. But the odds are against him. He obviously has some traits and abilities that make him worth giving him a shot, or he wouldn't have gotten drafted. But he just as obviously has some deficiencies, otherwise he would have been drafted higher.

Hardy will have to work hard, overcome his deficiencies, and catch a few lucky breaks in order to become a successful NFL receiver. And for all his faults and flaws, Harry Douglas WAS a successful NFL receiver.

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Let's see if he can:

3) get open against NFL defenders (I highly doubt he will do so as a rookie, but he may learn how to do so eventually)

Since he'll be in the slot, he'll get to face corners like Robert McClain, and Josh Wilson, not Desmond Trufant. I think it's very possible he will be open against these guys.

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But But But

Laurent Robinson

Harry Douglass

Kerry Meier

Julio Jones

Justin Hardy

or was it one of those vets

Horn

Booker

Cone

Toon

Robiskie

Nick Williams

Henderson

and don't forget those UDFAs (well I have forgotten a lot of them)

Eric Weems

Chandler Williams

Bergeron

Andy Strickland

Buckley

Harvey

Drew Davis

D Johnson

Rodgers

M Jackson

Croom

Martino

Reedy

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I think Hardy is going to surprise. His hands are serious and he can get open. Hopefully he gets a good amount of practice this summer against Tru. I think his ceiling is Julian Edelman: a volume kind of guy that produces in the underneath but has deceptive speed to get deep occasionally.

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I think Hardy is going to surprise. His hands are serious and he can get open. Hopefully he gets a good amount of practice this summer against Tru. I think his ceiling is Julian Edelman: a volume kind of guy that produces in the underneath but has deceptive speed to get deep occasionally.

I concur.

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Let's see if he can:

1) make the roster (almost certainly)

2) beat Hankerson for the #3 spot (Hankerson isn't very good, but he is a veteran)

3) get open against NFL defenders (I highly doubt he will do so as a rookie, but he may learn how to do so eventually)

before anointing him as Roddy's successor and our "secret weapon". This article is ridiculous. Hardy is a 4th round rookie. Expecting him to be the savior of the franchise while this young, this inexperienced, and this limited is unfair to him, and is only setting yourself up to be unfairly disappointed in him. Give him a year or two to develop before even BEGINNING to have any expectations for him.

"Could be" and "Will be" are two different things. Nobody anointed anything, just stating an opinion. No need to state the obvious that he will have to earn like all players will. But the guy is a NCAA record holder. It's entirely possible he produces as a rookie. Really wouldn't be far fetched at all.

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Let's see if he can:

1) make the roster (almost certainly)

2) beat Hankerson for the #3 spot (Hankerson isn't very good, but he is a veteran)

3) get open against NFL defenders (I highly doubt he will do so as a rookie, but he may learn how to do so eventually)

before anointing him as Roddy's successor and our "secret weapon". This article is ridiculous. Hardy is a 4th round rookie. Expecting him to be the savior of the franchise while this young, this inexperienced, and this limited is unfair to him, and is only setting yourself up to be unfairly disappointed in him. Give him a year or two to develop before even BEGINNING to have any expectations for him.

Being honest here, so far, I love what this kid had to offer (strictly as a prospect. ) That said question number 3 in your post is a very very valid one. The way I look at it, Hardy is basically going to come into this league and try to succeed based off of qualities that he used to succeed in college. I think this is a fair assumption. It's not like he's going to all of a sudden become a dominant physical specimen and win with pure and raw physical ability. He's a technical player in my eyes who relies on instincts and technique more so than god given physical attributes. Quite frankly athletically he seems average minus a few select traits like good hand size and length. Now that said, because of this in my opinion its reasonable to think that he WILL struggle as a young player in this league. In college his hands, technique and receiving ability where rarely matched due to not only his level of competition and what division he played in, but the simple fact that he was competing against college aged players who clearly don't have the same level and quality of technique that he's going to go up against in the pro's. It may take a while for him to up his game to the point where he can be a successful receiver who wins based upon his fundamentals and etc. Players like Antonio Brown didn't come into the league setting the place on fire. They had to develop. I see Brown as a similar style player. Not that I think Hardy is Brown. Just that Brown is a very savvy player who Isnt exactly the biggest physical specimen around. Either way I think this kid will succeed. It just may take some time.
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Being honest here, so far, I love what this kid had to offer (strictly as a prospect. ) That said question number 3 in your post is a very very valid one. The way I look at it, Hardy is basically going to come into this league and try to succeed based off of qualities that he used to succeed in college. I think this is a fair assumption. It's not like he's going to all of a sudden become a dominant physical specimen and win with pure and raw physical ability. He's a technical player in my eyes who relies on instincts and technique more so than god given physical attributes. Quite frankly athletically he seems average minus a few select traits like good hand size and length. Now that said, because of this in my opinion its reasonable to think that he WILL struggle as a young player in this league. In college his hands, technique and receiving ability where rarely matched due to not only his level of competition and what division he played in, but the simple fact that he was competing against college aged players who clearly don't have the same level and quality of technique that he's going to go up against in the pro's. It may take a while for him to up his game to the point where he can be a successful receiver who wins based upon his fundamentals and etc. Players like Antonio Brown didn't come into the league setting the place on fire. They had to develop. I see Brown as a similar style player. Not that I think Hardy is Brown. Just that Brown is a very savvy player who Isnt exactly the biggest physical specimen around. Either way I think this kid will succeed. It just may take some time.

The problem is the instant gratification crowd. They don't believe players develop. They just believe you come in and play good right away.

I think Hardy will be fine immediate honestly because of his savvy between the hashes and his hands. He won't be going against top tier corners there. I think a 40 catch/500 yard/3 TD stat line is very possible as a rookie. That's 2.5 catches a game, 31 yards a game and 1 TD every six games.

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I think Hardy is going to surprise. His hands are serious and he can get open. Hopefully he gets a good amount of practice this summer against Tru. I think his ceiling is Julian Edelman: a volume kind of guy that produces in the underneath but has deceptive speed to get deep occasionally.

I agree. This offense can be even more dangerous this year! I think the addition of 2 good TE's and hopefully a consistent running game will be huge

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I think he is going to have a pretty good rookie year relatively speaking. He has all the tools and a great QB throwing him the ball. Not to mention an OC who seems more inclined to give him a shot. I am extremely excited about this kid. I see no reason to be pessimistic about him. i am certainly not. If I am disappointed him then oh well, thats life. That won't stop me from expecting big things from him.

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There is a misconception that I am somehow disrespecting Hardy, or that I think "he sucks" as one idio--- errmmm--- one person mistakenly assumed.

First time someone's been so upset that they dragged one of my conversations through multiple threads. I'm honoured, really.

As for the topic, I like Hardy a lot. He has everything that you look for in a great slot guy, and his Rice Jr. mentality can only help. This entire draft class has so much potential, it's unbelievable. I can't wait to see everybody in action.

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1) I think he is going to have a pretty good rookie year relatively speaking.--- I am extremely excited about this kid

2) He has all the tools

3) and a great QB throwing him the ball.

4) Not to mention an OC who seems more inclined to give him a shot. .

5) I see no reason to be pessimistic about him. i am certainly not. If I am disappointed him then oh well, thats life. That won't stop me from expecting big things from him.

1) "I think" and "I'm excited" are fine. It's the crowd already calling him an upgrade over HD that I am objecting to.

2) No, he doesn't. If he did, he would have been a high first rounder. He has SOME of the tools. He lacks others. As a 4th round receiver, this is to be expected, and I am not knocking him for this.

3) If he can get open? Yes he will.

4) You would know more about this than I would.

5) I'm not pessimistic: I'm realistic. I have never said he has no chance, or that he's no good. If he has a great rookie year: BONUS! but there is nothing wrong with saying that we should give a rookie mid-round pick a year or two to catch up to the NFL. Those that contribute immediately are the exception, not the rule.

Edited by Oldskooler
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First time someone's been so upset that they dragged one of my conversations through multiple threads. I'm honoured, really.

As for the topic, I like Hardy a lot. He has everything that you look for in a great slot guy, and his Rice Jr. mentality can only help. This entire draft class has so much potential, it's unbelievable. I can't wait to see everybody in action.

I didn't mention you at all. You really aren't that important.

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It's NOT inconceivable.

It IS unlikely.

There is a misconception that I am somehow disrespecting Hardy, or that I think "he sucks" as one idio--- errmmm--- one person mistakenly assumed. But let's be realistic: mid-late round gems are good stories BECAUSE they are rarities.

Some people seem to think that Harry Douglas was some pathetic lame schlub who did nothing right. The truth is that Harry Douglas was a fine #3 wide receiver in the NFL. He was a successful, productive, albeit limited and flawed, receiver. He was too mediocre to be a long term answer as a #1 or even a #2, although he filled in as such adequately when injury forced him to. Harry Douglas was a fairly productive, fairly average, fairly mediocre NFL player playing a position that doesn't demand much more than being "fairly average, fairly mediocre". Still, there are thousands of receivers with big collegiate resumes that can't manage even this fairly low bar.

Can Hardy be as successful as HD? Of course it's possible. As I said, it is not a Herculean hurdle. But the odds are against him. He obviously has some traits and abilities that make him worth giving him a shot, or he wouldn't have gotten drafted. But he just as obviously has some deficiencies, otherwise he would have been drafted higher.

Hardy will have to work hard, overcome his deficiencies, and catch a few lucky breaks in order to become a successful NFL receiver. And for all his faults and flaws, Harry Douglas WAS a successful NFL receiver.

+1

Hear, hear!

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