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2014 Minnesota Vikings: Vikings to Sign Quarterback Chandler Harnish to Practice Squad

The Minnesota Vikings, as Adam Schefter reports, are going to sign former Colts and Northern Illinois quarterback Chandler Harnish to their practice squad. Harnish is notable for being 2012’s Mr. Irrelevant, meaning he was the last pick in the 2012 draft. Harnish has one interesting connection to Minnesota, which is that he was Jerry Kill’s former quarterback when Kill was at Northern Illinois.

This might signal that the Vikings are pessimistic in regards to Teddy’s availability on Thursday against the Green Bay Packers, not necessarily because of any concern about any long-term injury, but simply because it is difficult to prep in that short time frame, and ever harder with an injury at quarterback with questions.

There are a few scouting reports on Chandler Harnish out there. First, from Draft Insider:

Bio: Four-year starter awarded all-conference honors the past three seasons and named MAC Offensive Player of the Year in 2011. Senior passing totals included 62.9%/2942 yards/26 TDs /5 interceptions with 185 attempts/1382 yards/11 TDs on the ground. Junior passing totals included 64.7%/2530/21/5 with 836 yards rushing and seven more scores. All-Academic performer.

Positive: Athletic college quarterback with a tremendous amount of potential. Possesses terrific arm strength, gets rid of the ball with a flick of his wrist and loses nothing passing in motion. Displays a sense of timing, gets the ball to receivers as they leave their breaks and shows good field vision. Sells ball fakes, makes good decisions in the pocket and is always in control of the situation. Remains poised against the rush, gets outside the box to give himself a better view of the field and buys time for receivers. Challenges the vertical game and throws nice deep passes, putting air underneath the ball and letting receivers run to the throw. Goes through receiver progressions. Not afraid to carry the ball and picks up big yardage with his legs. Has enough escape ability to avoid defenders and elude the rush.
Negative: Must improve his corner and fade patterns. Tries to force the ball to covered receivers on occasion. Must improve his overall pass placement and throwing mechanics.
Analysis: Harnish leads by example and is always in command of the situation on the field. Rarely losing his cool, he beats opponents with his arm or legs and is slowly transitioning from a terrific athlete into a good quarterback. He has the potential to develop into an NFL starter yet needs proper coaching and experience in a pro-style passing offense. His innate skills and football intangibles make him worth the investment of time.
Matt Waldman’s Rookie Scouting Portfolio is not necessarily similar on Harnish. He isn’t as high on Harnish’s arm strength, but is about as high on his mobility. He saw Harnish as more of a West Coast-friendly quarterback. On his potential, Waldman says:

Chandler Harnish, Northern Illinois: Harnish has the size (6’1”, 219), athleticism, and flashes of pin-point accuracy that an NFL team will give him late-round consideration. One reason his accuracy isn’t consistently top-shelf is his footwork during his release. However, unlike Kirk Cousins, whose footwork problems arise with pressure and cannot throw the ball 20-30 yards with velocity and accuracy without good foot mechanics, Harnish has a stronger arm than Cousins and can manage throws with decent velocity up to 40 yards before his accuracy wanes.

Harnish also appears more comfortable in the pocket than Cousins. The NIU QB’s problems stem from lacking a consistently sound method of dropping, setting and stepping through his release. Harnish jerks his body upward as he delivers the ball rather than stepping forward and he doesn’t achieve the kind of hip torque that generates the power he needs to maximize his velocity. Give Harnish a season with NFL coaching and he should improve his accuracy and velocity to a point that he should challenge for a backup role with a team and possibly get groomed for a starter role within 3-4 seasons.

With a number of quarterbacks in the 2012 draft that ended up either working out or being drafted highly, Harnish was ranked as the eighth QB by Waldman for having a mix of veteran poise and postsnap ability with raw mechanics:

Harnish has the size, athleticism, and base passing fundamentals of an ideal project who could assume a back up role in a couple of years and possibly develop into a starter. I think he has that kind of upside.

He is a mobile passer who makes accurate throws on the move to his right and his left. He’s better from his right, but the the throws to the left are good enough to allow a coordinator to roll him to either side of the field.

Harnish has an over the top release that is compact and quick. He also displays some ability to throw the ball from a three-quarter motion, which helps him generate velocity on the move.

He flashes pin-point accuracy when he steps into a throw. However, at this stage of his development Harnish lacks consistent pin-point accuracy. It’s just a notch below that caliber and I think with some refinement in his foot work in terms of drops, hitches and delivery, he can achieve that level of accuracy more consistently.

I also think he could get more distance and velocity from his throws if he torques his hips more than he does during his release. He doesn’t consistently step into throws and when he does he’s jerking his body upward during the release rather than stepping forward and through so he can put his hips into the throw. He can throw the ball in the range of 50 yards but his velocity and accuracy wane when he targets distances over 40 yards.

When it comes to executing set plays he’s very good with looking off the defender if it’s a part of a quick execution of a play designed to go one way but set up with a look elsewhere. He’s also very good with the shoulder fake and uses his entire body to deliver a convincing pumpfake that can help him buy time. However, I didn’t see him really go through progression reads in this offense during this game.

Harnish can get a little too aggressive when pressured. He’ll try to make throws while hit that are too risky when he has other options to care for the ball. Harnish is coming back from an ACL tear as a junior, but he looks fit, athletic, and mobile.

He had Harnish ahead of Jacorry Harris, Kirk Cousins, Nick Foles, Case Keenum and Austin Davis. Though that is likely something he would call a “miss” it’s still noteworthy. A few Colts analysts have agreed more with Draft Insider’s analysis than Waldman’s, and have called him a strong-armed passer who specifically struggled in a West Coast-style system. The discrepancy could be between raw arm strength and potential, which is different than the functional present arm strength, more clearly affected by technique.

Per those analysts, Harnish didn’t have a good preseason but looked good in camp. As far as the preseason goes, Pro Football Focus agrees. Harnish ranked 98th of 102 quarterbacks in the 2013 preseason and 96th of 98 in this last preseason.

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  1. This could also be a sign that MBT isn’t picking up Norv’s # based system as quickly as the team would like. Was Harnish in a number system in Indy?

  2. Did they cut MBT or promote him so Ponder wouldn’t be the back up? I wonder if Teddy actually has a sprain or an injury? When I watched the replay (several times) it looked like the guy who almost sacked Teddy,kicked him as Teddy scrambled past him. Either way,I’m sure he will play!

  3. All Vikings fans should want Ponder to have a GREAT game if he plays. First we want the Vikings to win. Second it will help Ponders trade value, for next year. MTB is not the answer.

    1. kalil’s plan worked. he got cassel out and TB in. now kalil can go back to being good again. thank you, devious one

    2. Let’s hope! The entire line played very well,but the Atlanta rush has been inept all year.Going into Cheese territory is a different beast.If they can play well again,then I will be satisfied that our OL is back.