We fans have a tendency to exaggerate things particularly when it comes to preseason play. There have been thousands of preseason “superstars” over the years in the National Football League that went on to do little in their pro careers to merit anything but a very obscure trivia question. So I must preface what I’m about to say with that statement.
Brandyn Harvey’s play in the preseason opener against the Dolphins reminded me of Michael Jenkins on his better days, and at least merits some sense of optimism.
Is Harvey going to actually be the next Jenkins? If that means becoming a starter for the Falcons and being a quasi-productive player that averages 45 catches and 3 touchdowns per season over a six-year span, then the answer is no. More than likely, Harvey’s future in terms of what he can actually do as an NFL player probably mirrors that of fellow Villanova grad Brian Finneran rather than Jenkins.
But it’s easy to compare Harvey and Jenkins. Harvey is listed at 6’4″ 205 pounds, which is only a tad off the 6’4″ 214-pound frame that Jenkins sported. They are both long, lean, and probably most similarly they can block. On a team that likes to run the ball as much as the Falcons, being a good blocker can make you stand out. Finneran was also blessed with a large frame, blocking skills, and the steady veteran experience and versatility that allowed him to fill a variety of roles in the Falcons offensive attack.
It’s that blocking ability that probably made Harvey stand out last summer, despite only having a single catch for 3 yards in all of the preseason. I mentioned before that Harvey needed to start making plays in the preseason to improve his chances of making the roster instead of settling for another year on the practice squad. And he did exactly that last night against the Dolphins with 2 catches for 35 yards. He made an excellent sideline grab showing good hands and body control. He also made a nice catch to bail out Adam Froman over the middle when Froman was under pressure.
Harvey isn’t likely to be a big part of the offense in future but he might be potentially developed into a solid fourth option down the road. There, he can make a handful of plays on third downs or in the redzone to help move the chains a la Finneran these past few seasons.
There is very little question about who are the first five names on the Falcons depth chart at wide receiver with Roddy White, Julio Jones, Harry Douglas, Eric Weems, and Kerry Meier being virtual locks to make the final roster barring injury. But there is room for a sixth guy, and Harvey definitely stood out in the first preseason action. If that continues, then the team’s decisions to dump both Jenkins and Finneran this off-season looks like it could pay future dividends with Harvey. Stretching for the sideline grab certainly was a memorable moment for any fan watching, and most likely was the same for all the coaches that will remember that play when cut days arrive later this month.