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Miami Hurricanes 2022 Path to the NFL Draft: WR Mike Harley Jr.

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Harley is a Dark Horse to be Drafted but would be a welcomed addition to any NFL Team and could be the next Slot Receiver Success Story following Berrios and Osborn

Virginia Tech v Miami Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images

The Hurricanes have had a long lineage of talent at the receiver position, but it is Mike Harley, Jr. who is the most decorated pass-catcher from a career receptions standpoint. However, it is Harley’s off-field character that sets him apart in this draft process.

In particular, when Miami’s WR corps was in dire need of a breakout star in 2020 and the coaching staff called for an open competition at the position this season, Harley rose to the occasion with a monster performance. The breakout game from Harley did not happen by chance but was the result of years of dedication to his craft and a testament to his leadership/work ethic at the U. Harley has embodied the transformation in Miami’s team culture that resulted in that year’s 8-2 regular season, which followed back-to-back mediocre seasons.

Now, he looks to bring that same energy to a professional program.

WR Mike Harley, Jr. Draft Snapshot:

2022 NFL Draft Ranking* - 97th Wide Receiver

(Position Ranking based on The Athletic, Dane Brugler, 2022 Draft Guide)*
Height: 5’10” (12th Percentile)
Weight: 179lbs (7th Percentile)
Arm Length: 30 5/8” (16th Percentile)
Wingspan: 73 1/2” (16th Percentile)
Hand: 8 5/8” (6th Percentile)

Career Statistics:
2017: 11GP/4GS, 9 Receptions, 91 Yards (10.1 Y/C), 0 TD
2018: 13GP/4GS, 21 Receptions, 240 Yards (11.4 Y/C), 0 TD
2019: 13GP/4GS, 38 Receptions, 485 Yards (12.8 Y/C), 3 TDs
2020: 11GP/9GS, 57 Receptions, 799 Yards (14.0 Y/C), 7 TDs (All-ACC Third Team)
2021: 12GP/11GS, 57 Receptions, 543 Yards (9.5 Y/C), 5 TDs
CAREER: 182 Receptions, 2,158 Yards, 15 TDs (All-Time Miami Hurricanes Receptions Leader)

Pro Football Focus (PFF) Grades
- Overall 2017 PFF Grade: 51.9
- Overall 2018 PFF Grade: 59.3
- Overall 2019 PFF Grade: 56.8
- Overall 2020 PFF Grade: 75.8
- Overall 2021 PFF Grade: 71.2, 442 Slot, 29 Wide, 12 Backfield, 4 Inline

Pro Day Results:

40-Yard Dash: 4.47 (63rd Percentile)
Bench: 16 reps (64th Percentile)
3-Cone: 7.07 (33rd Percentile)
Shuttle: 4.20 (55th Percentile)
Vertical Jump: 35.5” (50th Percentile)
Broad Jump: 10’2” (58th Percentile)

Background:

Harley the High Character Leader

Harley hails from South Florida as he attended local football powerhouse, St. Thomas Aquinas, which has produced NFL greats such as Michael Irvin. Harley was a four-star product but had to work extremely hard in the weight room to increase his mass from a sinewy 155 pounds to now-179 pound receiver, while also maintaining his top notch speed.

And while Harley had the most receptions in Miami Hurricanes history, finished Third Team All-ACC in 2020, and was a catalyst on the field at many pivotal, it is his off-the-field grit that sets him apart. Harley has exhibited leadership qualities at the U at every twist and turn with his “make-it attitude”, which was previously displayed by hard-working Cane slot receivers and now NFL players, Braxton Berrios and KJ Osborn.

Harley first stepped up his sophomore year after then-Canes WR1, Jeff Thomas, went down due to injury. Then-Miami coach Mark Richt noted that Harley became a vocal leader as a sophomore.

Then in Harley’s junior campaign, he called out two prominent players, Thomas and QB Jarren Williams, for their poor practice and off-the-field habits at a time when the Miami program was riddled with cultural issues. Harley won the Plumer Award for Leadership, Motivation & Spirit that junior season.

In his fourth year in 2020, Harley answered the call after the wide receiving corps had a serious case of the yips and dropped a number of passes to open the season. Coach Manny Diaz called for an open competition at wide receiver and Harley stepped up by compiling 57 receptions for 799 yards and 7 TDs - the bulk of which came after Diaz’s ultimatum. Harley earned Third Team All-ACC for leading by example in that season.

Harley returned for his fifth year and became the all-time Canes’ receptions leader.

Player Profile:

For what Harley may be lacking in size, he makes up for it with his athleticism and determination to match. The relatively diminutive product (5’10”, 179lbs) has kept the lineage of high quality slot receivers outta the U alive as he lined in the slot on over 90% of his plays (442 plays out of 487 according to Pro Football Focus).

That being said, Harley has shown an evident prowess at getting out of the blocks and making plays happen on the outside, inline, slot, or even lining up in the backfield on the occasion. His route running is advanced and he could become a quarterback’s dream with his courage across the middle.

His 4.4-speed doesn’t always flash on the tape, but he exhibits immense strength and YAC-ability (365-pound bench press max, 425-pound squat max, and recorded at 22.6 miles per hour on the Canes’ GPS system during a game). Harley’s 54-yard game-winning touchdown against NC State in 2020 on 3rd and 7, a game in which he had eight receptions for 153 yards and two touchdowns, is a prime example of this on-field strength. Harley created inside separation off the line-of-scrimmage, and then evaded a tackle from All-ACC Wolfpack defender, Payton Wilson, kept his balance, and put himself upright as he raced to the endzone (embedded below).

While Harley can exhibit explosive play-making ability, he can go cold at times during the game and, despite mostly reliable hands (most receptions in Canes’ history), he had some cases of the drops during his time at Miami. Harley projects best out of the slot as he is the cleanest route runner there on plays of the short-to-intermediate variety (screens, slants, curls). The biggest hurdle at the next level, beyond his size, is his ability to create separation against NFL talent (it’s reported that he dominated nearly every DB he faced).

He brings some special teams experience as a returner (18 total career returns). His production, paired with his leadership skills, make him a no-brainer for NFL teams to take a shot on.

Strengths/Positives

  • High Character, “Make-It” Attitude and Leadership
  • Speed and Strength Combination exceeds his size
  • Ironman: Played in 60 career games while at the U
  • Fearless on the short-to-intermediate route tree
  • Willing to do the dirty work (i.e. blocks and special teams)
  • All-Time Canes’ Receptions Leader

Weaknesses/Negatives

  • Smaller Stature
  • Speed doesn’t always show up on deep plays
  • Questions about ability to separate from NFL Talent will be vetted
  • Ability to get it done on the outside

Best NFL Fits (Undrafted Free Agent): Harley has met with a number of teams including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Miami Dolphins, New Orleans Saints, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions

NFL Comparisons: Miles Boykin, Aaron Fuller

Bottom Line:

While some are knocking his size, he has an attitude similar to KJ Osborn and Braxton Berrios, both of whom ended up being sixth round picks despite a number of reported “limitations” to succeed in the NFL. He has an eagerness to want to do everything and is a guy you want in your locker room, so should be a darkhorse draft pick/undrafted free agent.

Draft Night Projection: (Undrafted Free Agent)

Undrafted Free Agent: A team will take a shot on him. The Saints seem like a good fit.