STRENGTHS - Harper looks bigger than his measured height and weight would suggest, and once in the open field he's extremely difficult to bring down in large part due to his ability to run through and over arm tackles. He seems to have a natural feel for running the ball, as he is quick to recognize cutback lanes and can make defenders miss with a variety spin, juke and power moves. He flashes the speed needed to take the edge and has the burst to get through holes inside before they close.
WEAKNESSES - Harper tends to get upright when running between the tackles which prevents him from running with the same power and elusiveness that he shows in the open field. While he is a willing blocker and is quick to correctly diagnose the blitz, he struggles to hold his ground and execute blocks, and often relies on trying to cut his man at the ankles. He has limited experience running pass routes and must learn to work back to the QB once the play breaks down, as he tends to stop and become a spectator once the QB scrambles out of the pocket.
SUMMARY - DJ Harper was stuck in the long shadow cast by current Tampa Bay Buccaneer Doug Martin until the 2012 season, but he is clearly an excellent RB prospect in his own right. He displays excellent instincts and vision as a runner, and has the speed to take the edge as well as burst through holes before they close. Once in the open field he consistently makes the first man miss with a strong combination of quickness, balance and power. His biggest weakness is on third down, as his is not a reliable blocker and is undeveloped in terms of his receiving skills. He is a perfect fit for a zone blocking scheme, and if learns to block with better base and leverage and proves he can consistently catch the ball out of the backfield, he could develop into a starter at the NFL.