Don't Sleep On WR Kelvin Harmon Having A Breakout 2020 Season

Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Let's play a little game here: Who in the room had NC State’s Kelvin Harmon as a top-five wide receiver in their rankings of the 2019 NFL Draft class?

How about as a top-three wide receiver?

How about as their WR1?

If you answered yes to all of the following, then you and I are in the same boat. You, like me, were also probably very surprised to see Harmon fall all the way to No. 206 in the sixth round when Washington finally ended his draft slide.

I didn't really understand it either. Harmon was coming off back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons with not much on the offense around him, especially from the quarterback position. Sure, his low explosive scores in the 40-yard dash, vertical jump and broad jump weren't great, and that is why I didn't think he would be a first-round pick. But the sixth round? For a player who had tape like his?

I was excited for him to get a shot in Washington, seeing as the receiver room he was entering was anything but solidified. In the end, Harmon finished his season with 30 catches and 365 yards. Those numbers aren't bad considering how late he was drafted, and the hope for his production increasing in the future gets better.

Harmon played in all 16 games last season, which, again, is good for a sixth-round pick, but even better than that was he started in eight. He also didn't have much production in the first half of the season; in the first eight weeks, Harmon had just seven catches and 64 yards.

Once he really started to get into the lineup, he started to produce quite a bit, especially when Dwayne Haskins became the starter at quarterback. In fact, 20 of Harmon's 30 total catches came when Haskins got the gig; that, in itself, is encouraging as Haskins is slotted as the starter for 2020. Harmon also caught 68.2% of the passes thrown his way, which was in the top 100 of all receivers in the NFL and top 50 for receivers with more 40 targets. In greater detail, according to Pro Football Focus' Nick Akridge, Harmon's 57.9% contested catch rate was sixth-best in the NFL, and he was one of just four wide receivers with zero drops on at least 40 targets.

Harmon's issues coming into the league stemmed from lack of separation from defensive backs, which is where the roots of concerns over his athleticism lie. Harmon did struggle to be as precise as others when it came to route running and getting away from defenders, so, in that sense, the fears of him pre-draft were manifested. But, as seen above, so were the strengths. Harmon never won in college by being a superior athlete. He won with great hands, a strong ability to go up and get the ball over defenders and through contract.

Basically what this boils down to is the concerns you had about Harmon, he had a counter for it — and he's using it in the NFL.

Fellow rookie wide receiver Terry McLaurin got the headlines in Washington after a fantastic campaign, but he needs someone to run with him. Toward the end of the season, Harmon was that player and can continue to be, this time hopefully for a full season in 2020.

Written By:

Trevor Sikkema

Senior NFL Draft Analyst

Senior NFL Draft Analyst for The Draft Network. Co-Host of the Locked On NFL Draft Podcast.