Peter King of Sports Illustrated recently visited the Vikings training camp. While he had trouble prying his eyes away from blazing fast Adrian Peterson, when he did he was utterly impressed with blazing fast Percy Harvin. Here is what King had to say about his impression of Harvin:
I came here expecting to see the fastest man in the NFL, Percy Harvin, ripping up Vikings camp. And I did see an incredibly gifted player, Harvin, getting coached very hard because the Vikings want him ready to play a big role on opening day 2009, not opening day 2010. But after seeing Adrian Petersonsprint around left end on an early-practice reverse like he’d just taken the baton in the Olympic 400-meter relay, I didn’t know who was faster. Especially on the fast track of the Metrodome, I have no idea how teams are going to defend the Vikings when Peterson and Harvin are on the field together.
“Yesterday,”‘ Peterson told me with a laugh after practice, “I went up to Percy after practice when he was doing an interview with some press guys. I stood in the back and said, “My Harvin, Mr. Harvin, who do you think is faster, you or Adrian Peterson?”
This is what I wrote in my postcard from Minnesota training camp about a play I saw Harvin make: Harvin, split wide right outside the numbers, versus cornerback Marcus Walker, playing inches across the line from him, planning to get a bump on Harvin in the five-yard bump zone to knock him off his route. Harvin juked almost imperceptibly left-right-left at the snap of the ball. Walker lunged at him but only got a piece of him as Harvin got outside Walker’s left shoulder at the line. NFL corners, and highlight producers in TV stations across the country, are going to see a lot of this. Harvin is so quick off the line, then so fast, that if you give him a half-step and don’t have a safety over the top for double-coverage help, the Vikings are going to throw a lot of deep touchdowns to this man. On this play, Walker never caught up, and the deep throw nestled cleanly in Harvin’s arms. Touchdown.
I expect Harvin to have the opportunity to be the Offensive Rookie of the Year. He’s too talented, and he has Peterson to take the pressure off him. And vice versa.
The troubled Harvin, obviously, got investigated thoroughly before he was drafted out of the University of Florida in April. When Brad Childresswent to Gainesville the week before the draft to meet Harvin and spend a day with him, he said he wanted Harvin to pick him up and drive him around. “I wanted to be in his car, and I wanted to smell the car,” Childress said. You know, for the pot smell. And he asked Harvin if he was aware that because of his marijuana experiences in college and for testing positive for pot at the Scouting Combine, he’d enter the NFL already in the NFL’s substance-abuse program. “You’ll be eligible to be tested up to 10 times a month,” Childress warned.
The honeymoon is on. “Urban Meyer told me the young man is going to be a pleasure to coach, and he has a high football IQ,” said veteran wide receivers coach George Stewart. “And so far, it’s true.”
Wow. King thinks Harvin could make a strong push for the Rookie of the Year award, which is high praise considering how many football players king has watched and how many training camps he has visited.
It is unusual for fans to realistically think that a rookie (especially wide out) can make such a big impact from day one that he may be the guy to put the team over the top. Well, if every opposing cornerback we face this season was named Marcus Walker (Vikings #4 corner) he would almost be a lock for the award.
Here is what Judd Zulgad had to say about Walker’s lack of success facing Harvin:
No one would fault cornerback Marcus Walker if he’s tired of going against rookie Percy Harvin in practice. Harvin has beaten Walker on a number of deep passes in camp, and he added another one in the afternoon practice. Harvin ran past Walker, and Sage Rosenfels hit him in stride for a 52-yard completion.
Harvin’s speed and versatility could very well make him the best rookie this year. Besides, after an offseason consisting mostly of letdowns, us fans could use some optimism about one of our very few newcomers.
If Harvin lives up to these expectations, and the other rookies are as good as they have practiced, then this draft class could pan out to one of the Vikings best ever