Though it seems as though Harper’s been with the Broncos for a decade, it’s only been six years. Unlike most players getting an extra year of eligibility due to injuries, he’s actually played at least three games in every season since 2007. He managed to stay healthy throughout the 2011 season for the first time in three years, and though playing a reserve role behind 2012 first-round pick Doug Martin, he managed to quiet the fears of coaches and teammates that those injuries had robbed him of his speed and agility.
Harper was a three-time all-district pick in Cypress Creek, Texas before moving on to Boise, where he played in 10 games, starting once (87 rushes, 376 yards, six touchdowns). He played in all 13 games as a sophomore (one start, 55-265, 4 TD) before injuries began to take their toll. In both 2009 and 2010, Harper played the first three games of the year before tearing his left ACL; he totaled 60 carries for 444 yards and five scores in those six games. Even though Martin carried the load in 2011, Harper finally made it through a season as a valuable reserve (115-557, nine TD). As a sixth-year senior, Harper stepped into the lead back role for the Broncos, and did not disappoint. Harper carried the ball 228 times for 1,137 yards, and scored 15 rushing touchdowns.
Speed back who hits the jets when in the open field. When he presses the line, shows quick feet to cut into space and then quickly accelerate. Has some thickness to his frame, not a slight runner like many fast backs. Runs with good lean inside, ends up falling forward and can get through arm tackles. Flashes balance to keep running after a spin move in the open field. Willing to lower shoulder into defensive back to finish runs instead of stepping out of bounds. Shows good hands in limited chances as a receiver, threat to leave behind linebackers on wheel routes and make moves to free himself of coverage in the flat or over the middle. Plays some Wildcat QB in the red zone. Capable as a cut blocker.
Tore left ACL twice, must check out medically. Lacks enough power to run inside, and will too frequently try and bounce to the outside. Keeps the ball in his inside hand at times instead of switching it away traffic. Not always as decisive as you’d like finding his hole behind the line, also loses his balance trying to make moves in the open field at times instead of taking what he can get. When attempting to anchor in against pass rushers, he either gets run through, or run past.
Harper played well in his first two years with the Broncos, but then tore his left ACL in the third game of both the 2009 and 2010 seasons. In a reserve role behind 2012 first-round pick Doug Martin as a junior, Harper showed coaches, teammates and NFL scouts he still possesses an open-field burst. He followed this up with a strong 2012 performance. He is much more comfortable bouncing to the outside than running in the middle, but that will be less of a concern to teams than his medicals. A team may take a chance on him late, if not, he will receive plenty of UDFA interest.
Future Hall of Famer
A once-in-a-generation type prospect who could change how his position is played
An impact player with the ability/intangibles to become a Pro Bowl player. Expect to start immediately except in a unique situation (i.e. behind a veteran starter).
A quality player who will contribute to the team early on and is expected to develop into a starter. A reliable player who brings value to the position.
A prospect with the ability to make team as a backup/role player. Needs to be a special teams contributor at applicable positions. Players in the high range of this category might have long-term potential.
A player with solid measurables, intangibles, college achievements, or a developing skill that warrants an opportunity in an NFL camp. In the right situation, he could earn a place on a 53-man roster, but most likely will be a practice squad player or a camp body.