I want to write about Derrick Harvey and tell you how good I think he is becoming. I also want to get rid of the word “bust” when people talk about trading up to get the rights to Derrick. Derrick Harvey is not a bust as a draft choice. You can decide if he was worthy of the trade or whether the trade was smart. I am here to defend the person.
Let me start with this fact; every first round draft choice does not turn into an NFL starter much less a pro bowl caliber player. From the 2008 draft, Glenn Dorsey, Vernon Gholston, Sedrick Ellis, Lawarence Jackson, Kentwan Balmer and Chris Long were all defensive linemen taken in the first round. Drafting college players is not an exact science. I believe only 50% of first round draft choices are starters 5 years later. It is a game of probablities. You take the player and hope they make it. This is why the rookie salraies need to be managed, but that is another story.
Derrick Harvey was never considered to be a finished product day one. He was always recognized to be a project, someone who would develop into a good football player. Derrick only played high school football for two years and then came out as a junior from Florida. He had five years experience in football and never much technique coaching. Despite this, I think he came out at the right time. There was nothing left for him to learn in college. After dominating the National Championship game for Florida, there was only one way to progress his skills, come into the NFL. Derrick Harvey was a young inexperienced but talented athlete and high quality individual. He had run out of competition in college and deserved to be a top candidate for the NFL.
Let’s turn to ProFootballFocus and see how they grade his 2009 campaign, his second year in the NFL. According to them, Derrick Harvey was the 23rd best defensive end in football. Not good enough you think? He is the highest rated defensive end drafted in 2008 or 2009. There is no better defensive end in football with his years of experience. Remember, Derrick Harvey is still young and learning. He was the 13th best defensive end against the run, better than Mario Williams and Dwight Freeney and as good as Robert Mathis. In 2008 he was ranked 72 out of 82 defensive ends and 75th against the run. Defensive ends take patience. Mario Williams in his second year (2007) was ranked 45th (depite having 14 sacks). His third year (2008) he was 11th and his 4th year (2009) was 8th.
Let me make excuses for Derrick and the pass rush. I don’t think we can expect Derrick to put up huge QB sack numbers all by himself. There was no one on the other side causing any concern and the push up the middle wasn’t happening either. I saw all home games last year and Derrick came very close to a sack many times. If the opposing QB had faced any pressure, Derrick would have recorded more sacks. Derrick was not that easy to contain and not that easy to run against.
So we have a new defensive lineman on the way to Jacksonville. We have a new defensive line coach in Jacksonville. We have the number 10 draft position in a draft filled with quality defensive tackles. Are you on my wave length yet? Derrick Harvey got a lot better in 2009 and will get a lot better again in 2010, only this time he won’t be alone on the line. I think we will finally get to stop hearing the ignorant remarks about Derrick Harvey being a bust. Those people labelled him as that never impressed me with their intelligence or football knowledge anyway. Derrick Harvey was a very good first round draft choice, just ask the other GM’s who drafted defensive ends in 2008. Get ready to cheer, Derrick Harvey is about to have a breakout year. You agree?
– Terry O’Brien