Chris Harper can trace the origins of his football career to the basketball court. Harper, a physical wide receiver who the Seahawks selected in the fourth round of the NFL draft on Saturday, played in the post most of his basketball career, despite being not much taller than 6 feet 0.
“I just developed a mentality to play bigger than what I was, and it just carried over to me playing receiver,” Harper said. “It’s helped me out a lot.”
That certainly was the case at Kansas State, where Harper played three years as a receiver. He played inside for a year and primarily outside as a senior. He led K-State with 58 catches for 857 yards as a senior.
Harper will join a crowded and talented Seahawks’ receiving corps. Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin and Golden Tate all return from solid 2012 seasons, and the Seahawks made a big splash by trading for dynamic Percy Harvin in the offseason.
Harper had a knack for going up and getting jump balls at K-State; four of his five touchdowns his junior year were on fade routes.
“That’s one of the things that stood out about him: He’s 6 feet tall, but he does a good job of going up and high-pointing the ball and attacking it,” said Trent Kirchner, the Seahawks’ assistant director of pro personnel. “He has a strong base, strong lower body where he can handle those corners that will try to body up to him.”
He’s also a capable blocker, having lined up at wide receiver for a K-State team that predominantly ran the ball.
“I’m a lot more comfortable than most guys because we ran the ball so much,” Harper said. “It helps a lot, making me more a complete receiver.”
Said Kirchner: “He’s a really strong guy, and he’s not afraid to get physical. He’s definitely our type of guy in that regard.”
Harper started off as a quarterback at Oregon – Pete Carroll actually visited his high school when Carroll was still at USC – but he said he injured his shoulder and “never got the full confidence back in the arm.”
Harper then transferred to K-State to be closer to home; he is from Wichita, Kan. Harper has only been playing receiver for a little less than three years and could use more polish as a route runner.
But he is a receiver who plays bigger than his height and brings more physicality to the Seahawks’ receiving unit.
“I don’t think we’ve seen his best, and that’s one of the things the coaches said about him,” Kirchner said. “Once he gets in a room with other pros, they think he’s really going to elevate his game, that he’s going to be pushed by other players.”