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Niners Nation Scouting Report: James Hardy, WR, Indiana

While there is still the Super Bowl to be played, the NFL Draft is a mere 3 months away and the 49ers have plenty of work to do if they want to regain some momentum next year.  For those of you who were not around here during this stretch, I ran some scouting reports on various college players.  You can check out the various scouting reports here, along with other 2007 Draft information.  I tried to stick with players the 49ers were considering (according to mock drafts and general news) and also guys I liked and hoped the 49ers would grab (see Moore, Jay).  For the most part I tried to get these scouting reports from the various SB Nation college bloggers.  This worked great for most guys, but of course we don't have a blog for every college.  So, before we move on, consider this a general call for any help in either providing scouting reports (if you have watched a lot of a player or maybe attend the same school) or helping to locate blogs of non-SB Nation schools (all blogs are listed here).

For now though, I want to start with James Hardy, who is a guy I've seen selected by the 49ers in several mock drafts, including one of ESPN's draft guys, Todd McShay and also Mel Kiper, Jr. (both Insider-protected).  SB Nation does not have an Indiana blog and I don't know a whole lot about Hardy, so this will be a little bit more pieced together than others in the future.  The most important things about Hardy?  He's TALL and he's got some supposed character red flags.  From McShay:

The 49ers need a playmaker at wide receiver to take the attention away from TE Vernon Davis and some pressure off QB Alex Smith. And although Hardy comes with some baggage and he needs some polishing, no receiver in this class possesses a more imposing combination of size and natural athleticism.

For some of the basics on James Hardy:

6'7, 220 lbs, 22 years old, Junior
2005 - 61 rec., 893 yards, 10 TDs
2006 - 51 rec., 722 yards, 10 TDs
2007 - 79 rec., 1125 yards, 16 TDs

For that senior year, he was top 25 in receptions and yards and #2 in the country in touchdown passes (the next closest on his own team was 4 TDs).

Here is a brief scouting report from Pro Football Weekly:

Hardy, at nearly 6-7, 220 pounds, might be the most physically imposing receiver in college football. He is very good catching the ball with his hands above his head and has shown he could dominate with his length and great wingspan, especially in the red zone. His character could be called into question, having been arrested for a domestic incident in the spring of 2006 with the mother of his son, and it could affect his draft value. However, program sources say Hardy has matured, and he is having his best season.  He really stood out vs. Penn State's Justin King, but against the bigger, more physical Vontae Davis of Illinois and Jack Ikegwuonu of ­Wisconsin, Hardy showed he could be kept in check, and he could always have trouble separating with quickness in the pros.

One other scouting report from

James Hardy is the best receiver you've probably never heard of. Hardy is a hard prospect to judge, because if you live outside of Big Ten country you may never get to see him play. Hardy has put together a solid career to this point. After playing for the Indiana basketball team during his red shirt year, Hardy gave up basketball to focus on becoming a better receiver. In 33 career games, Hardy has piled up 191 catches, 2740 yards, and 36 TDs. The 6'7", 220 lbs. junior averages more than a TD per game, or 12 per year, to go with his 83.0 yards per game average during his collegiate career. NFL scouts will drool over his soft hands and his amazing red zone potential. He has the potential to become a bigger, more athletic Plaxico Burress type weapon for some franchise. Hardy has a 42 inch vertical leap, to go along with his size and reported 4.45 speed. Hardy has proved to be an incredibly consistent target, catching at least one pass in every game he's played in for the Hoosiers. Despite facing double coverage on an almost constant basis, Hardy still finds ways to get open. He did not end his career on a high note, with only 5 catches for 50 yards against Oklahoma State. Scouts may have also noticed his 3 dropped passes in that game. Hardy will need to prove to scouts he can keep from getting pushed around by the more physical corners in the league. He also has some red flags off the field and has been criticized about his practice habits. However, if he runs at (or above) his alleged 40 time and shows the same crisp route running he's displayed this season, Hardy will likely rocket up teams' draft boards.

So what does this all mean?  Well until the Combine and potential visits with teams, not much beyond what we make of it.  If he runs a fast 40, he'll most definitely climb in the rankings.  Earlier in the college season he was projected as a 2nd-round, but has risen after an impressive junior campaign.  In spite of the numbers he seems to be considered a bit of a project with a ton of upside.  He comes in behind Limas Sweed and Early Doucet, and I would not anticipate those guys being around at the end of the first round.  Although Hardy could turn into a steal, right now he seems to be a bit of a gamble.  Again, if the 40 time looks good at the Combine, teams will be drooling over a guy this big.  

What do you think the 49ers would be getting if they drafted Hardy?  Or is he a guy you even want to see with the 49ers next year.  I've heard arguments both ways and am trying to not to become too enamored by his size.  Thoughts?

Oh also, it's not much but here is a search from You Tube with a few highlights (but not much).