April 2012 only saw one player from K-State find a home through the NFL draft – and even that was a stretch, as Bryce Brown saw little playing time and quit the team his first year after transferring to Manhattan before conference play started. 2013 should be a much more profitable year for departing Wildcat players. Over the next two weeks, Jug of Snyder will be assessing the players entering 2012 with draft hopes and how they finished their careers with K-State. For our third installment we go to to the man fast enough to play for Oregon but tough enough for K-State, receiver Chris Harper.
When Chris Harper came to Oregon out of Wichita, he knew two things: he was athletic, and he wanted to play quarterback. And while the former was always going to work in his favor, there’s only so much he could do about the latter. After transferring to Kansas State with dreams of taking snaps under center, Bill Snyder convinced him of his potential at wide receiver. It was a move that benefited Harper and the entire Wildcat team. Over three years he caught at least 25 passes and averaged over 13 yards/catch each season. Harper truly exploded his senior year, leading the team with 857 yards receiving on 58 catches and three touchdowns (note: with Klein and Hubert in the backfield, K-State’s receivers don’t get many touches inside the red zone).
While the Fiesta Bowl didn’t produce a highlight reel for every Wildcat, Harper was a bright spot on the biggest night of the team’s year. He finished the game with 71 yards on eight receptions, and had the Wildcats’ longest reception for 21 yards. Without his presence, K-State would have had a much harder time moving the football.
Harper has good though not great size to make it in the NFL, standing at 6’1″ and 228 pounds. It was this size that led a surprisingly effective receiving corps for Kansas State in 2011 in spite of many experts predicting the position to be a big minus for the team (Harper led the team in receiving his junior year as well). Although his 4.46 40 time isn’t going to blow defenders away, it is adequate to find success on the next level. Additionally, he displays impressive body control and is exceptionally coordinated (he was, after all, a four star quarterback recruit out of high school).
Harper was selected to the Senior Bowl earlier this year after being selected to the All-Big 12 second team squad. He’s ranked anywhere from the 10th to 20th best receiving prospect available in draft, which could change as more juniors choose to stay or go and he participates in the combine. He should be able to come off the board in the fourth round, and,barring some unforeseen revelation, no team will let him drop out of the fifth. Look for Harper to make an NFL roster in the 2013 season.