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Quarterback Arbitrage: Chandler Harnish Edition

harnish-chandler-11-16 The success of run/pass threat QBs Cam Newton, RGIII, Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick has NFL talent evaluators running to try to find the next one of these guys and has led many to probably overhype Arizona’s Matt Scott as a result.  But I think an interesting idea for an NFL team would be to ignore trying to pluck the next run/pass threat out of this draft and instead look to former Northern Illinois QB, and current Colts practice squad player, Chandler Harnish to see if he might be the guy.  I saw Harnish’s name pop up on a QB comparables screen, so let’s start there.

I’ll offer upfront that I did not do the usual culling of the list to remove guys who weren’t similar in terms of draft round.  So the names below are just notable guys who are in the NFL (or are current year prospects) and were similar to Harnish based on college numbers.


Chandler Harnish 73 219 Northern Illinois 2011 14 0.62 229.71 2.00 0.43 8.38 98.50 47 8944 2.62
Colin Kaepernick 77 233 Nevada 2010 14 0.65 215.86 1.50 0.57 8.42 86.14 51 10098 3.42
Tyrod Taylor 73 217 Virginia Tech 2010 14 0.6 195.93 1.71 0.36 8.71 47.07 49 7017 2.2
Andy Dalton 74 215 Texas Christian 2010 13 0.66 219.77 2.08 0.46 9.04 33.46 50 10314 2.37
Vince Young 77 229 Texas 2005 13 0.65 233.54 2.00 0.77 9.34 80.77 37 6040 1.57
Tim Tebow 75 236 Florida 2009 14 0.68 206.79 1.50 0.36 9.22 65.00 55 9285 5.5
Alex Smith 76 217 Utah 2004 12 0.68 246.00 2.67 0.33 9.31 52.58 40 5203 5.88
Ryan Nassib 74 227 Syracuse 2012 13 0.62 288.38 2.00 0.77 7.96 10.92 46 9190 2.5
Kirk Cousins 75 214 Michigan State 2011 14 0.64 236.86 1.79 0.71 7.91 (2.79) 43 9131 2.2

It might seem self-defeating to my case to leave names like Tim Tebow and Vince Young on the list, but I don’t think it is.  First, both of those guys required a 1st round pick to acquire.  So that speaks to their perceived value before they exposed whatever fatal flaw that they had (inability to complete a pass in Tebow’s case and head case/work ethic in Young’s).  It might also seem self-defeating to leave names like Tyrod Taylor and Kirk Cousins on the list, although I don’t think it is.  Both have been the primary backup for teams over their short-ish careers.  Also, as I always say, a range of outcomes is possible.

A reasonable question to ask with any QB prospect is whether or not they can make NFL throws.  Do they have the arm strength needed to challenge NFL defenses?  Harnish threw 57 MPH at the Combine per Ourlads.  You may note that’s better than Dalton and a little worse than Kaep and Cousins.

Definitely worth noting related to Harnish is that he is not as big/fast as Kaep, or Tebow (Kaep is both bigger and faster, while Tebow is about the same speed, but is much bigger).

Is Chandler Harnish a sure-fire NFL starter?  Who knows?  But NFL teams regularly burn first round picks on guys who probably have about even odds with Harnish on being the next great thing.  What I’m saying here is that Harnish could be acquired for nothing, and would give teams some exposure to the upside that they keep trying to find in the first round of the draft.  Harnish probably has a better shot of being what teams were hoping Jake Locker would be.  Everything I’ve ever seen out of Jake Locker is him rolling out of the pocket and throwing an incomplete pass.  Harnish was actually more accurate than Locker in college even though he was asked to make throws on the run as well.

Again, the key part of this discussion is that Harnish costs almost nothing to obtain.

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