Harmon’s Route Running “Separates” Him From The Pack

Photo: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

Just a few weeks ago, I released my initial Top 50 Big Board (using our interactive tool “Build Your Own Big Board” which will be available to the public on February 25th). While there will be changes made due to further film study and the NFL Scouting Combine, within the top 50 were four wide receivers.

Currently slotted in the WR2 spot is NC State’s Kelvin Harmon, a dominant force who operated along the boundary. In his junior season, he posted 81 receptions for 1,186 yards and 7 touchdowns.

Harmon has a ton of tools to work with when projecting him to the next level, among which are his size and strength. While some “height / weight / speed” receivers have failed to live up to expectations in the past few years, Harmon separates himself from that group due to a number of factors.

Harmon will never be a burner at the next level, but has above average speed and explosiveness. His consistent and versatile route running allows him to create constant throwing windows.

There is a difference between receivers who are elite separators and those who are great at creating throwing lanes on a play to play basis, and Harmon qualifies as the latter. When you incorporate Harmon’s size (6’3, 214 pounds) into the equation, you have a receiver who is rarely contested at the catchpoint.

In his game against Syracuse, Harmon dominated with physicality in his route running. He consistently positioned his body where throws could be placed by quarterback Ryan Finley, but was creating more than enough separation with his strength and hand usage at the top of the route.

While Harmon isn’t the most nuanced route runner, he’s more than adept at double moves. When given space at the line of scrimmage, he does a great job of selling underneath routes that get defensive backs to drive downhill. Harmon does an excellent job of anticipating contact and avoiding it, either with shiftiness or hand usage.

His touchdown rep against Eastern Carolina showed his effectiveness on double moves, creating a vertical throwing window.

Against Marshall, Harmon was able to press close to the toes of the defensive back and sell a comeback route. As the defensive back shifted his weight towards the line of scrimmage, Harmon accelerated upfield with clear inside and vertical separation. Even with the throw unable to hit him in stride, Harmon was able to adjust to the ball because of the window he had created.

Against Georgia State, Harmon’s double move didn’t get the cornerback to bite downhill. Despite that, Harmon worked to stack vertically and keep his inside body positioning. Even with the lack of separation, the inside throwing lane was available for the entirety of his route break.

Back in the game against Marshall, Harmon showed how he uses early routes to set up plays later on.

Initially, Harmon threatens to the outside in his stem before crossing the face of the defensive back. Winning back inside with physicality, he gets into the frame of the defensive back before snapping off his route. The defensive back got caught off-balance, and Harmon had an easy reception inside the hashes.

Just a couple of plays later, Harmon was in a similar alignment. As he took the same stem and crossed face with physicality yet again, this time he accelerated straight upfield. He created vertical separation and a downfield throwing window, and adjusted to the ball for a huge gain.

Despite the lack of true nuance in his footwork, Harmon has refinement in his hand usage and physicality. On top of that, he can be effective in his double moves and how he can create windows with body positioning.

When coupled with his size and athleticism, you get a wide receiver with first-round potential. In just a few days, the NFL Scouting Combine should help reaffirm this initial feeling from Harmon’s tape.