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Justin Hardy, the record-setting wide receiver from the ECU Pirates, enters the 2015 NFL Draft after one of the most prolific collegiate careers in the history of college football. His 387 career receptions ranks first all-time in FBS play. Hardy converted those catches into 4,541 yards and 35 TDs over the course of four seasons in which his lowest catch total was his freshman year (65 receptions.) In 2014, Hardy enjoyed a career year with 121 rec., 1,494 yards and 10 TDs. He adds experience in the return game with 63 career punt returns. Hardy’s story is pretty remarkable, as his career started as a walk-on and ended as a record holder. Physically, Hardy hits the position’s minimum requirements, but he is far from an imposing guy. At 6’0” and 180 lbs, he’s not going to win a lot of physical battles off the LOS or break a lot of tackles after the catch. Athletically, Hardy is a limited movement guy who lacks any top-tier traits, but he has a knack for getting open and moving the chains. He was featured on a lot of quick-hitting routes and was a volume target guy during his collegiate career, so his stats are a bit deceiving. He has good, reliable hands but lacks the ability to make the “wow” catch because of his average athletic skill set, and he won’t be a player that can threaten the defense in the deep passing game. He does his best work in the short and intermediate passing game. Hardy is a tough guy who likes to mix it up in the run game, but he’s not going to overpower defenders on a consistent basis.
BOTTOM LINE: Justin Hardy has had a fantastic collegiate career and will get his opportunity in the NFL. He’s a good, solid football player who will contribute to a team’s wide receiver depth chart, but I don’t envision him making a significant impact in the pro’s outside of a depth receiver who can line up in the slot. He’ll have to make an impact on special teams as he works to develop his game in the NFL.
GRADE: 6.0 (5th Round)
-Submitted by Bryan Perez (@FirstRoundGrade)