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LKelley67 04-30-2006 09:17 PM

get to know ROMAN HARPER
For the next few days why don't we devote a thread to each draft pick. Not discussion of the merits of the pick itself but about the player. Lots of links, read up on them and give any thoughts from what you gather.

My immediate reaction is how they contrast from players of the Haslett era. Year after year we saw dazzling athletes who lacked many of the other necessary components for success. The common ground I see on these players is how they are talked of as football players first not athletic specimens. Attitude and character seem to now be on another whole plane of priority with the organization.

Start with an eye opener on Harper...

The highly recognized Frank Croyle-
Saints looking to couple this guy with Josh Bullocks - last years No. 2 pick. Harper is the most underrated defender in this draft and could be a rookie starter here. He was an excellent addition at this point.
Pros: Harper has received little national attention as a prospect, but astute scouts are well aware of his all-around abilities. He has strong run-support and cover skills. He will fill hard and fast and really strikes a blow. He is aware and alert playing back in zones. He has good ball skills and can make plays on the ball. In run support, he reads the play quickly and reacts with strong hands that allow him to get off blocks and finish with reliable form tackling. He is a tough in-the-box safety, despite marginal size for the role. He has the toughness and durability to be a good NFL starter, but may be better suited for strong safety rather than the free safety. He has above average recovery speed for the free safety spot and his coverage technique has improved significantly over his late career.
Cons: He has only average hip flexibility and stays too upright in his backpedal, causing him to lose a step in transition. He will be slow to come out at the break point and allows separation in man situations.
Numbers: At the Combine, he did not work out due to a hamstring injury.

ESPN commentators were discussing how safeties were evolving into a new form- a lot more in the box, hard hitting play. As terrible as the run D has been I can see the sense of this guy.

LKelley67 04-30-2006 09:20 PM

Smart and possesses great instincts...A leader who is like an extra coach on the field...Tough and very physical...Supports the run well...A playmaker who is always around the ball...Has a lot of experience...Versatile and has played both free and strong safety...Intangibles are off the charts and coaches are sure to love him...Consistent and you know what you will get from him every week.

Lacks outstanding measurables in terms of size, speed and athleticism...Is only average in coverage...Lacks fluid hips and doesn't have great range...Doesn't have the physical tools to recover from mistakes...Lacks explosiveness and won't make the spectacular play...Stock may have been elevated by his college press clippings...Won't get much better and doesn't have a lot of upside or potential.

The type who does everything well but nothing great...Makes everyone around him better...May not be the biggest or fastest guy out there but he is a true football player...Each and every good team has a player like this on their squad.

LKelley67 04-30-2006 09:27 PM

video interview in preparation for draft-

LKelley67 04-30-2006 09:37 PM

Harper is a talented safety with all the physical tools to be a good starting NFL safety who can make plays vs. the run and the pass. When he plays aggressively, he flies upfield fast, avoids blockers and can be a hard hitter, but he does not consistently play aggressively vs. the run -- at times he seems content to wait and let teammates make tackles. His combination of size, agility and athleticism enable him to adjust and break down and tackle well out in space. He is a smart and instinctive player who consistently reads and reacts to the play quickly. He really shows the ability to get outside quickly from 1-deep coverage and can make plays on the ball. His playing speed and athleticism help him cover receivers in man coverage well. Overall, Harper will be a versatile starting safety who can start early in his career and will be able to make plays vs. the run and the pass. He will be drafted and given a season or two to adjust to the NFL, he will become the player he is capable of.
Harper is a good athlete with the quick feet and playing speed to make plays all over the field from sideline to sideline. He is a smart player who uses his hands well to jolt a receiver's release, bumps him around in his route well and uses his body well to cut off and shield the receiver. He reads the quarterback's eyes well and can break and get outside quickly to make plays on deep, outside passes. He flashes good aggressiveness coming up quickly in run support and can break down and tackle well in space.
While Harper has good enough size for a safety, adding approximately 10-15 pounds would help his NFL durability. More than anything, he needs to come up more aggressively in run support and always fight to get to the ball to make tackles.
Harper is a good athlete with all the physical tools to be a good NFL safety. His foot quickness helps him accelerate to full speed quickly to chase down plays in pursuit -- gives him sideline range vs. the run. He has the quickness and speed to get outside from 1-deep coverage to make plays on the ball. He has the quick feet and agility to change directions quickly and can chase down plays in pursuit. He has the flexibility to bend his knees, which combines with his agility to let him break down and tackle well out in space. He has the athleticism to cover tight ends in tight man coverage and can stay with them deep downfield. He is a coordinated athlete who does a good job of staying under control when playing out in space.
Harper has shown toughness fighting through dings to stay in the lineup and flashes toughness coming up aggressively in run support, but he does not come up quickly in run support consistently and often seems content to allow teammates to make tackles. While he is not consistently productive because he does not attack the play every time, he has shown a history of stepping up his aggressiveness and production on the most important plays. His overall production has been good, but it tends to vary between very good and inconsistent. He has the physical tools to make a lot of plays vs. the run from sideline to sideline and to be good in both zone and man coverage. For a safety, he has shown a commitment to the team and will hustle and chase after the ball carrier in order to make plays all over the field.
Harper is a smart football player and it shows in his good tackling technique and his good use of his hands and body vs. a receiver in man coverage. He has good instincts, which help him read and react to the play quickly. He can break quickly and gets outside to make plays on the ball on deep, outside passes. He generally plays with good concentration, which helps him break down and tackle consistently well, but he does not always attack the run aggressively on every snap.
Harper has decent size for a safety at slightly over 6-feet and nearly 200 pounds. His measurables are not ideal, but he has a good build. His size, athleticism and toughness will give him the ability to stay healthy in the NFL. While he lacks premier explosiveness and playing speed, he has good playing speed, acceleration and an explosive burst to close quickly on ball carriers in pursuit and to the ball in coverage. He has good playing strength for a safety, which helps him jolt receivers when he covers them in man-to-man coverage and to make good, strong tackles in run support.

LKelley67 04-30-2006 09:41 PM


A model of consistency throughout his career, Harper became known for his bone-jarring tackles with the Crimson Tide. He started his final 38 games at Alabama, ranking second among defensive backs and sixth overall on the school's career-record list with 302 tackles.

At Prattville High School, Harper played quarterback and free safety his senior season. On defense, he finished the season with 58 tackles and four interceptions in limited playing time due to a broken leg. As a quarterback, he accounted for more than 800 yards of offense and 13 touchdowns. He was an All-County, All-Metro and Birmingham News All-State pick. Prattville finished 9-2 on the season. Harper was offensive MVP for the Lions and was also voted team captain.

Harper redshirted in 2001 at Alabama. He appeared in every game as a reserve free safety in 2002, pacing the team's second unit defenders with 42 tackles (27 solos) with a pair of sacks, a fumble recovery and a pair of forced fumbles. Harper started every game at strong safety in 2003. He registered 114 tackles (79 solos) with an interception and fumble recovery. He joined linebackers Derrick Pope (105) and DeMeco Ryans (126) in becoming the first trio in school history to each record more than 100 tackles in the same season.

Harper earned All-Southeastern Conference second-team honors in 2004. He collected 77 tackles (45 solos) with a sack, seven stops for losses, three interceptions and four pass breakups after moving to free safety. He also caused a fumble and recovered two others. Harper elevated his play in 2005, picking up first-team All-SEC recognition. He led a unit that ranked first in scoring defense (10.67 ppg) and fifth in pass defense (160.75 ypg), as he was in on 69 tackles (38 solos), including nine stops behind the line of scrimmage, an interception and two forced fumbles.

Harper played in 49 games for Alabama, starting his final 38. He ranks sixth in school history with 302 tackles (189 solos), adding 3.5 sacks for minus-28 yards and 19 stops for losses of 56 yards. He intercepted five passes for 76 yards in returns and had fifteen pass deflections. He was credited with six quarterback pressures while causing five fumbles and recovering four others.

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Positives: Has a muscular, linear frame with smooth upper body development, good bubble and hamstrings...Physical downhill performer with the strength to defeat blocks working along the line...Shows good field awareness keeping plays in front of him when working in the zone...Plays with good leverage, generating good pop on contact...Has good balance playing in space and uses his hands effectively to play off blocks...Has a good feel for handling switch-offs in the zone and does a good job of picking up the slot receiver playing underneath...Gets a good jump on the ball with his ability to properly read the quarterback...Has enough range to accelerate to the ball, compensating for a lack of blazing speed by taking good angles to shorten his closing burst...Makes plays on the ball with his natural hands and does a good job of getting his head turned to track the ball in flight...Fills the rush lanes with good urgency, doing a nice job of slipping off blocks and sifting through trash to locate the ball...Brings his arms and keeps his feet, generating the strength behind his hits to wrap and secure.

Negatives: Better playing in the zone, where he can keep plays in front of him rather than in man coverage...Has just adequate hip snap to turn coming out of his pedal, but is too high in his stance to generate immediate acceleration coming out of his breaks...Lacks explosive closing speed, compensating by taking proper angles to close...Controlled and physical tackler, but does not have the hand strength to match up and reroute bigger tight ends...Does not have the recovery burst to get back into the action once beaten on pass routes.

Harper is a productive athlete with valid instincts and above average ball anticipation skills. He compensates for a lack of ideal foot speed with the range and ability to take proper angles in attempts to close on the ball. He is a physical tackler with good urgency stepping up to support vs. the run. He shows good hand activity to defeat blocks and has enough functional strength to fill the alleys.

Harper's lack of burst and speed makes him a bit of a liability in man coverage. He lacks the ability to fly around, but he comes up quickly, and routinely puts himself in position to make plays. Harper is sound, but not fast in short area pass coverage. He gets good position in the zone and can run with a tight end, but is unable to run deep with a receiver. He trails well though and is capable of taking away easy throws.

When taking on ballcarriers, he squares up, and though not always a wrapper, he will strike with force and is a reliable tackler. He sorts out combination routes well and has good route recognition, taking good angles on the ball. He lacks an explosive closing burst though.

Harper gets too high in his backpedal, and though smooth in his turn, he lacks the speed to recover deep, but shows good range to the sideline. He is worth a look as an athlete who will play smart and has the toughness to contribute on special teams, but is a step too slow to develop into a starter.

Saintsfan66 04-30-2006 09:41 PM

This is what I don't like..... ppl who make lame posts after a positive posting.....

Dude... 14th.... 14th overall Defense..... and COLBY BOCKWOLT.. is moving to the MLB... Anthony Simmons in on the left and Fujita is on the right.... We upgraded our Defense... and now with a MUCHHHHHHHH better offense.... our defense won't be on the field 65% of the game. Im not saying 10+ wins.. Im saying this Franchise is turning around fast.. and im saying 9-7.. with the following year and Playoff win.... and maybe more....... then again.... this league is up and down... and we have all the tools...... and now.. a Coaching staff to go with it..... and Aaron brooks is not in the backfield to throw the ball -40 yards.

LSUJeremy 04-30-2006 09:56 PM

Well, let me tell you what I don't like. I don't like not having a real knock your **** in the dirt middle linebacker since Sam Mills and Vaughn Johnson. I don't like watching every NFL back go for over 100 on us right down our throats. I don't like having 17 safety's on the roster, and then drafting another one in the SECOND ROUND when there were a ton of good MLB's left on the board.

It's been, what, over 15 years since we put a LB in the Pro-Bowl, and the last one of any consequence I can think of is Winfred Tubbs. Your answer is to throw out that we have Bockwoldt moving to the middle?? Yeah, he's the answer.

So, go ahead and call my post lame, stick your head in the sand, and be happy we have more safety's than the rest of the NFC South combined. A South full of good linebackers, none of which are on the Saints roster.

LKelley67 04-30-2006 10:22 PM

Not discussion of the merits of the pick itself but about the player. Lots of links, read up on them and give any thoughts from what you gather.

jnormand 04-30-2006 10:32 PM

I think we drafted this guy a little early but he seems really intelligent, a guy that the coaching staff can put in and expect the job to be done. He probably needs some more coaching....maybe a younger Jay Bellamy in the making.

saintswhodi 04-30-2006 11:07 PM

He was still a reach. I hope he pans out.

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