Photo of James Hardy
Grade
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  • 18 REPS
    Top Performer
  • 125.0 INCH
    Top Performer
  • 6.84 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 4.20 SEC
    Top Performer
  • 6'6" Height
  • 220LBS. Weight

Overview

James Hardy was a coveted basketball prospect. A 185-pound Elmhurst High School product arrived in Bloomington intent on taking part in IU's hoops legacy in 2004. After one season with that team, the lanky athlete decided to commit to the gridiron. By the time he decided to leave for the National Football League three years later, he had shattered the school's season and career receiving records.

Hardy is the only wide receiver in Indiana history to surpass 2,500 yards, 175 receptions and 35 touchdowns. He finished his career with 36 scores on 191 catches, good for 2,740 yards. He also made a significant contribution on the basketball team as a freshman. During the 2004-05 campaign, he played in 23 games, starting three times, as he averaged 1.7 points, 1.8 rebounds and 10.7 minutes per contest.

Hardy was a two-sport standout at Fort Wayne Elmhurst High School, where he was named All-SAC as a wide receiver after making 34 catches for 731 yards and 10 touchdowns as a senior. Following his final campaign, he was a Class 4A All-State selection by the Indiana Football Coaches Association.

Hardy is the all-time leading scorer in Fort Wayne high school history. He was a two-time recipient of the Tiffany Gooden Award, given to the most out-standing male or female player in The Summit Athletic Conference, as chosen by The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.

Hardy led the team to a Class AAA state runner-up finish in 2002-03 after averaging 23 points, nine rebounds and four assists. As a senior, Hardy averaged 27.3 points, 9.8 rebounds and 2.5 assists, as the team finished with a 16-8 record. He was rated the 78th-best prep basketball player in the nation on the Insiders.com Top 100 squad.

After spending the 2004 football season with the scout team and the 2004-05 campaign with the basketball squad, Hardy concentrated strictly on football in 2005. He earned second-team All-Big Ten Conference honors, in addition to being a member of Rivals.com's Freshman All-American team.

Hardy started five of 10 games he appeared in at split end, missing the Michigan clash with a strained Achilles tendon. He led the Big Ten with an average of 89.3 yards per game receiving in 2005. His 61 catches rank third on the school's single-season record list, as he totaled 893 yards with 10 touchdowns.

On the field, Hardy had an equally impressive performance in 2006 as he did during his redshirt freshman season. But off the field, trouble followed. He was arrested on May 19 on charges of domestic battery and interfering with the reporting of a crime, after his girlfriend accused him of hitting her and the couple's infant child.

Hardy pleaded not guilty to the charges and later accepted a court's offer in Fort Wayne to settle his case through a pretrial diversion agreement. By accepting the program, he had to comply with the conditions of the agreement and pay court costs. He also apologized to his teammates and IU in his statement.

There were problems with Hardy and Indiana's late head coach Terry Hoeppner. After the second game of the 2006 season, the two met privately, resulting in the coach suspending Hardy for two games (vs. Southern Illinois and Connecticut).

When Hardy returned to the lineup, he was rusty from his layoff and was flagged for critical offensive pass interference on the Hoosiers' opening drive of the Wisconsin clash, finishing with an eight-yard catch for the day. He soon got back into his rhythm, catching at least five passes in six of his last seven games, finishing with 51 receptions for 722 yards (14.2-yard average) and 10 touchdowns.

As a junior, Hardy received several All-American first-team honors, in addition earned All-Big Ten Conference accolades. He led the team and ranked second in the league, as he set school season-records with 79 catches for 1,125 yards (14.2-yard average) and 16 touchdowns.

In 36 games at Indiana, Hardy started 26 contests. He finished his career by hauling in 191 passes for 2,740 yards (14.4 avg) and 36 touchdowns. He also scored 216 points and recorded one solo tackle.

Analysis

Strengths

Positives: Has that rare-sized frame with an impressive combination of long limbs, excellent leaping ability and timing to high-point the ball...Has just adequate speed, but is deceptively quick getting into his routes...Needs to get stronger, but is a playmaker who uses his tall frame and long arms to get to a lot of off-target throws...Will struggle to defeat the press, but if he gets a clean release, he builds his acceleration steadily...Not the type that will separate after the catch, but can elude to get extra yardage...His height poses a great challenge for smaller defenders, especially on fades and post patterns...Gathers to make his cuts and while he lacks blazing speed, he is light on his feet...Moves well in space, showing smooth comeback running ability in the zone...Tough in a crowd, using his size to wall off and shield the ball from the defender...Sticks his foot in the ground to change direction and does a nice job of setting up the defender with good stutter-step moves after the catch... More of a shifty route runner than sudden, but he has loose hips and the juke moves needed to make the initial tackler miss...Quite effective on the bubble screen, as he uses his long arms well to look the ball in...Too tall to sink his pads as well as the other receivers, but uses his deceptive speed to generate movement...When he maintains good concentration, he is very effective at catching in a crowd...Does a good job of tracking the ball in flight while making proper body adjustments to get under the pass...Snaps off his route and comes back for the off-target throws...Has large, soft hands, plucking the ball out of the air with his long fingers properly extended...Has excellent arm extension to maintain position for the high passes... Like Keyshawn Johnson, he has the ability to keep his feet inbounds working the sideline and the flexibility to catch the over-the-shoulder passes...Runs with good body lean and while he won't win many open field foot races, he has the stride and stop-and-go action that allows him to suddenly freeze the defender after the catch...Shows a decent burst running the flash screen, but it is ability to adjust in stride that lets him get into position to make the catch. Negatives: Needs to add bulk and more muscle tone to his body, as he has the linear build of a basketball player...His lanky frame poses problems, as he struggles vs. the more physical cornerbacks to get off the line due to marginal upper-body strength in attempts to get a push off the jam...Not a sharp route runner, as he does take some soft angle cuts...Best on controlled or intermediate routes, as he lacks the timed speed to gobble up the cushion and get behind the speedy cornerbacks on deep routes (would be more effective if he shortened his stride coming out of his cuts)...Has had concentration problems, resulting in a fair share of dropped balls...Lacks aggression and desire as a blocker...Needs to show better awareness on corner and post routes as it seems he wants to turn and run before properly securing the ball...Shows some wasted motion trying to accelerate and burst when running underneath routes...Has some character issues and one off-field problem that needs further clarification, and he must be upfront in interviews at the Combine... Despite his size and leaping ability, he only caught 79 of 144 balls thrown to him in 2007, as the opposition managed to deflect 21 of those passes. Compares To: HAROLD CARMICHAEL-ex-Philadelphia...You might have to ask your dad who Harold Carmichael was, but Hardy is in the same mold -- a tall, lanky receiver with a great reach and excellent leaping ability whose jump ball skills will create nightmares for smaller cornerbacks. Those defenders generally get into lots of trouble trying to stop Hardy from getting to the jump balls, evident by the 10 pass interference penalties charged to those covering Hardy in 2007. Some say he is like the Giants' Plaxico Burress, but he lacks the bulk, strength and explosive burst that Burress brings with his game. Use him on fades or bubble screens and he is sure to move the chains, but he is going to have to dedicate a few hours to the weight room, as his lack of ideal strength could become an issue, especially trying to beat the jam.
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Grade Title
9.00-10 Once-in-lifetime player
8.00-8.99 Perennial All-Pro
7.50-7.99 Future All-Pro
7.00-7.49 Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.50-6.99 Chance to become Pro Bowl-caliber player
6.00-6.49 Should become instant starter
5.50-5.99 Chance to become NFL starter
5.20-5.49 NFL backup or special teams potential
5.01-5.19 Better-than-average chance to make NFL roster
5.00 50-50 Chance to make NFL roster
4.75-4.99 Should be in an NFL training camp
4.50-4.74 Chance to be in an NFL training camp
No Grade Likely needs time in developmental league.