BERKELEY, Calif. -- While former California receiver Chris Harper’s decision to declare early for the NFL draft was perplexing to many, he remains adamant it was the correct decision -- even despite not being invited to the NFL combine.
“Just talking to my family, talking to mentors and making an educated decision,” said Harper at Cal’s Pro Day on Tuesday. “The fact that there’s a lot of receivers [at Cal] and the ball was going to be spread around a lot more just like it was this year and things like that [weighed into it].”
Harper said he did not seek input from Cal’s coaching staff while making the decision and expects to be drafted “anywhere from the third to seventh [round].” However, after not being one of the 44 receivers invited to Indianapolis for the combine, a potential free-agent deal seems like a more likely path.
Because he left following his junior season, Harper was not allowed to take part in any of the various postseason all-star games, which made Tuesdays showcase --- where he was the marquee participant in front of scouts from 29 NFL teams – even more important. Harper said he put up 11 reps on the bench press (225 pounds) and recorded a 35-inch vertical jump, while various stopwatches recorded him in the 4.5 range in the 40-yard dash. He looked fluid in drills, but did drop one pass.
Harper caught 52 passes for 634 yards with six touchdowns last year for the Golden Bears after a 70-catch, 852-yard year as a sophomore. He finished his career with 163 catches for 2,030 yards and 13 touchdowns. If he returned for his senior year, he would have needed 43 catches to become Cal’s all-time leader in receptions.
“It was more about my draft stock,” Harper added about his decision to leave. “I felt like next year it wouldn’t have been as high and I feel like with my production dropping every year going into next year I wouldn’t have had as many balls or as many opportunities as I would have had these past couple of years and I think that’s why I made the educated decision.”
He will visit the Seattle Seahawks on April 15.