In an underwhelming crop of players from ASU football, Jalen Harvey might be one of the more intriguing prospects for the NFL.
Harvey converted to safety from wide receiver for his final season of college football in order to fill a positional need for the Sun Devils and improve his chances of landing a NFL roster spot.
Fortunately for both Harvey and Arizona State, the redshirt senior made the transition from offense to defense seem easy. Harvey displayed a nose for the ball carrier, racking up 70 tackles in just 10 games.
As a prospect, Harvey’s biggest strength is his versatility. He finished behind Merlin Robertson in total tackles, but his 53 solo tackles led the Sun Devils in 2018.
In 2017, Harvey tallied 558 receiving yards on just 33 receptions. His average reception of 16.9 yards was the longest on the team among players with at least 10 receptions.
Harvey also has an instinct for making the small, less-heralded plays.
As a safety, Harvey was a physical presence roaming the field, which the Sun Devils’ online profile predicted.
Harvey’s overview said, “Plays the game with a mean streak, making him a tough and ferocious blocker on the outside, something that should translate well in his transition to the defensive side of the ball.”
In addition to being a very willing blocker, Harvey was a reliable option when the Sun Devils needed to move the chains.
According to thesundevils.com, 45 of Harvey’s 58 career receptions resulted in a first down.
Harvey, like many of his teammates in the draft, has his fair share of weaknesses.
Teams will most likely shy away from his lack of production when defending the pass. In his only season as a defensive back, Harvey failed to record an interception and had one pass defended.
Modern NFL offenses are reliant on the passing game, which means general managers will want players who have proven to be a ballhawk – or at the very least, someone with moderate production.
Even as a receiver, Harvey struggled to make the big play, as he caught two touchdowns and ran for a couple more as a wideout for three seasons.
Harvey also does not have game-changing athleticism. His football IQ has allowed him to play both sides of the ball more than anything.
Harvey’s Pro Day left a bit to be desired, as his 32.5 inch vertical would have ranked near the bottom at the NFL Combine for the defensive back group. Additionally, his 40-yard dash time was unofficially clocked around the 4.6-second range – on the slower side for his position, but not a glaring red flag.
Harvey will most likely not be in any team’s Week 1 lineup and may struggle to crack the roster at all.
Much of Harvey’s early value will come as a tough player on the scout team, with the potential to carve out time on special teams.
The odds are in favor of Harvey finding his first NFL home as an undrafted free agent.
However, if Harvey does get drafted, then it will likely be a very late – seventh round, possibly even sixth – flier on a player with good attitude and the potential to adapt to a new environment.
The Seattle Seahawks have been known to make such moves, as well as being active in pursuing undrafted free agents. Although they spread competitive opportunities generously in the offseason and preseason, the Seahawks may take another direction because of their young, up-and-coming secondary.
Two other potential landing spots for Harvey are in the Bay Area, where both NFL franchises are scrambling for answers at defensive back.
According to Pro Football Focus, the Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers ranked 31st and 32nd, respectively, in their secondary rankings.
Harvey grew up in nearby El Cerrito, Calif., so a move back home is entirely possible for the young defensive back.