The NFC North's breakout player is ...

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert
ESPN.com has continued its State of the NFL Nation project with projections for 2009 breakout players. There was no strict definition for "breakout," so when each blogger was asked to name one candidate from his division, I grabbed Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin.

To help you ward off early-onset RSI, I'll paste what I wrote here:

First, let's get through the "Big If."

With a history of injuries and off-field issues, Minnesota receiver Percy Harvin represents a measured risk. But if he stays on the field in 2009, Harvin will be one of the NFC's brightest new stars in 2009.

It didn't take long this spring to see why NFL scouts considered Harvin one of the top playmakers available in the draft. Some players are looking for positive yardage when they get their hands on the ball. Harvin? He's looking to score every time. A vertical, north-south runner, Harvin sprints to the goal line the moment he tucks away the ball.

On an offense that already includes tailback Adrian Peterson and receiver Bernard Berrian, Harvin should benefit from some favorable matchups in the defensive backfield. The expected addition of quarterback Brett Favre would only add to Harvin's opportunities.

Vikings coaches seem prepared to load him with as big of a role as he can handle -- using him at all three receiver positions in spring drills, as well as a kickoff returner, punt returner and at quarterback in a new Wildcat formation.

In fact, Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell has added some 15 plays to the Vikings' playbook in anticipation of Harvin's unique skills. "We are up there [in meeting rooms] trying to diagram everything we can," Bevell said.

Based purely on skills, Harvin would have been a top-10 pick in the April draft. His stock sank after he reportedly tested positive for marijuana at the scouting combine. This spring, Harvin missed two events -- the Vikings' rookie minicamp and the NFL's rookie symposium -- after falling ill. He also missed six games because of injuries during his three-year career at Florida.

So there are some "ifs." But the sky is the limit -- if Harvin can stay on the field.

There you have it. If you want your vote heard on this topic, click here.