Chandler Harnish visiting Seattle

Five days ago I reported on Twitter that Chandler Harnish would be visiting Seattle:

Today, the player confirmed the visit via his own Twitter account and posted the picture at the top of this blog post showing the team’s now famous ‘welcome’ to any visiting prospects.

I like Harnish and wrote this article in early January suggesting he could be a sleeper for the Seahawks: “There’s an awful lot to like here. Even at the collegiate level his drops backs are crisp and sharp – an underrated feature. It’s not so much the footwork either, which is good, but rather the way he scans the field while stepping back. There were several instances against Arkansas State, Toledo and Army where you can see Harnish looking downfield as he sets, switching from one option to another and making a completion. Although he’s a long way off the kind of technical qualities we see from Matt Barkley, he’s certainly a cut above the majority of college QB’s I’ve watched this year.”

It’s that technical quality that really stood out as a potential difference maker at the next level. He’s a good athlete, he will make plays with his legs. In terms of a character, just search Youtube for one of his interviews and you’ll notice he’s extremely switched on. But it’s that ability to go from one target, to the second, to come back to the initial read on a developing route which intrigues me. Arm strength isn’t at the ideal level and he’ll need to drive the ball with greater velocity downfield. At the same time, on short/intermediate routes he shows enough strength to make it passable at this stage in his career.

He had some big games for Northern Illinois, including some highlight plays (see below). Harnish is only 6-1 and a lack of elite competition will ensure he’s in the later round bracket. He may even be a priority UDFA signing . However, the Seahawks are likely to spend a pick in the round 4-6 range on a quarterback and they could certainly do a lot worse than the Northern Illinois QB.


  1. Mike in OC

    Well from previous posts anyone could see I’m a big Harnish fan. I’m glad to see the Seahawks are looking there as well. You’re absolutely right about the character thing, too, Rob. He has that leadership quality that could “tilt the field” regardless of his average arm strength.

    Thanks for the update.

  2. akki

    I keep knee-jerk thinking he’s like another short, mobile MAC quarterback in Bruce Gradkowski. I don’t think he’d ever be the man, but it isn’t bad to have someone capable of being a solid backup in a year or two. That’s worth a late pick.

  3. Bruto

    At what point do we stop wanting to find the next backup of the seahawks and start looking for the next Diamond… If you feel Bruce Gradkowski is what you see then to me thats not something worth indulging into.

    With that said, the first impression i got from him was Tony Romo. The quick release, his release point, they both reminded me of Romo. If that is his ceiling, then i could see taking a flier on him.

  4. Jayson

    I have been a Harnish Fan since the first post. With the game plan NIU had, they had Harnish run a bunch, I just dont want him to turn into Tebow and run first pass second… All in all I would love to see the Seahawks sign Harnish!

  5. rossco17

    No defense in that game – reminds me of the Alamo bowl this year. Harnish has amazing accuracy, good vision, and good legs. His arm does seem average or below. His TD thrown at 1:52 in above video was terribly under thrown. Luckily for him, the WR was so open that it didn’t matter, but that much separation doesn’t really happen in the NFL. I like Harnish a lot more than Wilson, whose accuracy scares me. 6th round, please.

    Rob, what happens to Portis if the ‘Hawks draft a QB? Competition for 3rd string?

  6. Rob

    I suppose it’d be an open competition rossco. Whoever wins the battle to be the #3 guy gets the job, the other moves to the practise squad. Seattle would need to determine how highly it regards Portis and a draftee before making that decision.

  7. NickW

    I guess I don’t see what’s so appealing to some about Harnish??? I saw several balls thrown short that should have been easy catches, he hit the one defender in the back which could have been a td had the ball been thrown better. This guy runs a lot and took a lot of hits because of that running, so he must be pretty tough, for now, kind of like T-Jack. Not sure I see anything that makes me excited or want this guy. We have enough backups, I would like to see if we can find someone that could be that diamond in the ruff. Maybe he is, I just don’t see it.

  8. Jim

    I really like Harnish as a winner and leader as well as a QB. He seems to have a nice blend in his game between passing play fakes and rushing that keeps defenses on their heels. Some call him a “run first” QB, when they look at his rushing statistics. IMO, the vast majority of Harnish’s rushes were designed QB runs & he does very well with them as shown by stats and film.

    194 carries for 1379-yards, 7.11-ypc, avg. & 11=TD’s., avg. 98.5-yds/game
    237 for 384, 61.7%, 3216-yds, 8.4 yds per att, 28-TD’s, 6-INT. 229.7-avg. yds/game
    2011-Total Offense: per game- 229.7-passing, 98.5-rushing avg. 328.2-yds per game,
    2011 Season Total Offense – 4595-total yds. 39-TD’s, 6-Int.

    A very solid round 6 pick, (if he’s still there) IMO.

  9. SHawn


    Anyone remember Mike Teel? Didnt think so.

    We have 3 QBs on the roster. For competition alone we will draft another this year. But Harnish wont beat Portis. In direct competition, I dont think TJ would beat Portis. But TJ will be handed the backup role after losing the starting job to Flynn. If we draft Harnish I hope its in the 6th or 7th.

  10. seattlesetters

    I like the idea of drafting a late-round QB to compete with Portis for the #3 slot.

    My guess is someone like Harnish would be a good option, and placing Harnish on the practice squad would be good insurance for next year when we hopefully are rid of T-Jack and can move forward with Flynn as the starter, Portis #2 and Harnish #3.

  11. Dustin

    I like Harnish a lot! I watched more videos of him than just this one. He does have good arm strength and is accurate. Don’t let the under thrown ball that was completed for a touchdown fool you. The receiver was so wide open Harnish was being safe by that throw. If he over through the ball that would be more concerning. There were a few deep throws in that video that were right on the money, even if they weren’t completed. His talent level should be a 3-5 round guy, but because he played in a underrated conference he probably will be drafted between 5-7 round or free ageny!

  12. Drew

    Hey Rob,

    Any reason why the only future potential first round pick the Seahawks have officially hosted on a visit is Michael Brockers? Any reason for not hosting a Melvin Ingram, Courtney Upshaw, or Quinton Coples? How much should we look into these visits as fans?


  13. Rob

    I would pay very little interest to the high profile visits Drew – with Seattle and a lot of other teams. There’s a lot of game playing going on this time of year. Seattle uses most of it’s visits to sell hard on priority UDFA’s and get to know late rounders. I’m guessing with Brockers that was a guy they didn’t know too much about considering his declaration was a little surprising. Due dilligence. With a guy like Upshaw – who’s played in two BCS Championship victories and featured for such a high profile defense as Alabama’s – there’s not really any need to have the guy visit. You know what you need to know.

  14. FWBrodie

    Also, the Hawks had access to many of the guys for a week straight at the Senior Bowl, not so with Brockers and some of the lower profile guys.

  15. Hawksince77

    After watching the tape, I don’t see how anyone sees this guy’s game translating into the NFL. The offense resembles nothing in the NFL, and his ability to throw the ball average at best at the collegiate level, and will be a liability in the pros.

    Drafting/signing him as an UDFA will not provide any competition to the 3 guys already on the team. I think Seattle really needs a 4th QB to come to camp (and feel like it’s a near certainty they will) but the guy has to bring more to the table than Harnish, IMO.

  16. RichFar

    Harnish played in an offensive scheme that did not use the deep pass very often. More importantly, they seldom practiced it… so he developed a quick release for the short/intermediate routes that made up 95% of the passing game. He is relearning the fundamentals of weight transfer and getting over the left leg and has been since the season ended. A lot of improvement and more to come. He threw the discus over 170 ft in high school and can throw a football 65 yards if needed. Arm is not the problem but fundamentals of the deep throw needs more work.

  17. Jarhead

    Let’s all remember we just gave an average QB 9 mil a year. So that doesn’t scare me. I personally have always liked Harnish since Rob first brought him to my attention. He has leadership intangibles, mobility and quick feet, and has decent accuracy. Guess what? We aren’t the Raiders. We are not lobbing the ball downfield 90 yards every 3 plays. If he can hit the post, the deep out, the hitch, and the TE banana we will be fine. I hope they bring him in, because I’m not going to say Portis is some great potential QB when he hasn’t played a down that I’ve personally watched. Our “starter” will show us what he is really all about and we’ll be needing someone to come in and right the ship. I think all the quick footed, quicked witted, and quick armed QB’s we can accumulate the better.

  18. Attyla the Hawk

    Jarhead, your prediction on Flynn might well come true.

    They may not either.

    A few things that I think are already established with Flynn that you would probably concede.

    1. High ceiling. The fact that it was ‘just one game’ is immaterial. The Lions game was clearly a vision to what Flynn is capable of. Obviously … because he did it. Not against a bunch of schmucks. Detroit had plenty to play for. He got their best effort. And Green Bay, while talented, did play short handed. Circumstances aside, he did it and in so doing gave actual NFL regular season validation to his ceiling.

    2. Ability to lead and win. I’m not a big fan of “he’s a winner” laurels. Because there is simply no accounting for massive talent surplus (or deficit) at the collegiate level. I do however think ‘ability to lead and compete’ are critical and even paramount to everything else. Obviously with a good LSU team, he was able to come in without experience and not give away a national title.

    After that, he was brought in as ‘the other QB’ — a 7th round pick no less and out competed a well regarded 2nd round prospect with a marginal 1st round grade. Green Bay accepted a lot of criticism and derision for that move. At the time, Rodgers wasn’t AARON RODGERS yet. It was a time when many Green Bay fans were already sharpening their pitchforks for Ted Thompson’s job. So there must have been something plainly visible early on that would make them comfortable taking that kind of heat.

    Even with no real experience he clearly possessed an ability to raise his game in adverse circumstance. In both of his starts, we also see him compete well against playoff quality teams (NE/Detroit).

    It doesn’t really matter that Green Bay is extremely talented. The margin of talent deficit at the NFL level is pretty small. And certainly it’s tiny compared to New England and Detroit. A QB who is only capable of ‘not losing the game’, certainly cannot reliably put his team in a position to win against teams and QBs capable of hoisting their teams on their backs and winning by their own right. Flynn did.

    Flynn has established a pattern of competing well in circumstances that should cause him to wilt. While he doesn’t have an extensive track record in games, I think he does still have a established record of competing and overcoming adversity.

    To me, he looks like a guy that has shown at every opportunity that he can compete and win. With the best. His opportunties are limited. His physical toolset is merely average. But I think it’s undeniable that whenever he’s been tested, he’s been capable of being ‘it’. The guy.

    He strikes me as an investment whose indicators look good. Like we’re getting on the ground floor of something that has a chance to be special. He’s a risk, but if you look real close, he’s a good risk.

  19. Joe The Jarhead

    Well you have me at his production in his opportunities. He certainly has some gaudy numbers when he has been allowed to play. BUT- for the New England and Detroit games- those defenses in terms of pass rush and pass defense are awful. They are statistically at the bottom of the league (bottom third) in those seasosns. Whereas GB has ranked as one of the very best offenses in the league those two seasons. I believe that an average QB could have found success in either of those two games. Basically I feel it was the SYSTEM that proved successful, not Flynn himself.

    You provide great facts which are undeniable. But I still feel that we bought in to a commodity that has on the wrong side of the risk factor. Flynn benefitted from having the best coaching ad receving core in the league. And both the games he played were in the friendly confines of Lambeau field. He is not tested nor proven. Because playing against 11 animals in candlestick looking to kill you, without the added benefit of the best receving core in the league will be the litmus test. Flynn has shown that he can run an offense efficently when tasked to do so. But is that ability worth paying 9 mil for? I personally believe ‘no’.

    I know I likely disagree with most Seattle fans in my dislike of Flynn and the flynn signing, but I think we ALL just go with the gut. I see Flynn, and I see the typical system QB. True enough he beat out Brian Brohm, which no one expected. BUT- Brian Brohm himself was the typical system QB at Louisville with Bobby Petrino and was exposed in the NFL. Flynn on the other hand was a decent game manager at LSU and played with a phenominal defense. I will argue he never truly put the team, in college or the NFL, on his shoulders. I feel he did his part, but he never took the game over. A lot of those passes and plays were simply Jordie Nelson and Gregg Jennings just making the Detroit DB’s look absolutely silly. So his NFL coaching is top notch, you know he has the grooming that is second to none, but he was not good enough to start in GB. That brings me to my final point and the true crux of my dislike of Flynn.

    He is another teams backup. I have lived through this for years. What really frustrates me is that we are bringing in a QB to lead the team and be the face of the franchise (as all QB’s invariably are) who was not good enough to start for his former team. I have a fundamental problem with that. I woould have much rather stayed the course, or taken a shot on a young QB who we bring in as a Seattle exclusive. He may not pan out, but he will be a Seattle guy through and through. I don’t want another retread from another team, because another teams backup is not good enough for the Seahawks. We deserve better than that. We deserve our own star that we drafted, we groomed, that we tested in the fires inside Seahakws Stadium and that bleeds Blue and Silver like all we fans do. Flynn is not that. He is GB’s back up QB. So yeah we are creating competition, we are creating competition in a way that I do not support. You have an extensive football IQ Attyla, and I kind of argued in a more personal and emotional way, but hey we’re talking Hawk football. To guys like us, this IS personal and emotional. We’ll see how it plays out, some think it’ll go one way, some another. We’ll know in October!

  20. Joe The Jarhead

    Gee whiz, Rob needs a post-post editing feature on this site. Haha Or I need to pay closer attention to what I’m writing

  21. Attyla the Hawk

    Joe, I think we agree on more than we disagree. Even despite the fact we arrive at different conclusions. I can’t and won’t discount the fair haired backup QB phenomenon. There is a world of difference between being the man and being they guy that has no pressure to win or lose. That definitely plays into the risk factor.

    Still, it’s not exactly a sin to not be capable of starting over Aaron Rodgers. Obviously it didn’t indicate Hasselbeck was not a capable franchise QB just because he couldn’t start over Favre. At most, I don’t think it indicates anything either way. Flynn could be a total bust or as good as Hasselbeck and it wouldn’t have changed his ability to get on the field. It’s a non indicator to me in this case.

    Had he been riding pine behind the likes of Kyle Orton I would definitely cite that. If we were talking about having signed Brady Quinn (who has more starting experience), then I would rail on that signing for this very point. But I don’t think it applies to Flynn as his starting or not starting wasn’t predicated on his skill.

    If I recall, Jennings sat out that game. Not sure if Finley was pulled early. It was Nelson and Jones that started. It’s still a good point that the defenses he faced weren’t championship quality. At worst though, he was required to get into a shootout with elite offenses and didn’t wilt.

    I would not be surprised (I’d even expect) that Flynn will have considerable growing pains. In general, it takes about 20 NFL starts before QBs really can process, manage and execute close to their potential. Flynn, if he is like most franchise QBs, should be pretty dismal for half of the year, to possibly even all of it. It doesn’t matter that he matured on the bench. Rodgers took a shade less than that many starts to establish himself as a bona fide good NFL QB. Manning (both of them), Rivers, Flacco, Freeman, Stafford — all elite QBs. They all took that amount of time too. Starting day one year one or day one year 3 didn’t really change that.

    I’d say the earliest we can make a decent approximation of whether he’s it or not will be this time next year.

    I do think, that he will be a product forged by the Clink and the twelves. He may have been GBs backup, but his name is going to be written into the annals of the NFL with ‘QB – Seattle’ next to his name. His slate is still blank. Everything he earns will be done so as a Seahawk. There won’t be any mercenary disassociation with his development or his body of work. We may not have drafted or traded for him. But it will be his opportunity here in Seattle that will make him.

    I don’t feel that way about Chris Clemons. He’s going to always be a Seahawk to me. Even though his career stat sheet says he’s barely been here long enough for a cup of Joe.

  22. Joe The Jarhead

    Yeah we do view it very similarly. To clarify- my problem is not so much that he couldn’t start over Aaron Rodgers (few could), but that I would MUCH rather go and try and find our OWN guy. I would rather take a shot on a rookie whom we drafted and groomed. Someone we hand picked from Jump Street. So it’s not that he didn’t start over Rodgers, it’s that now we know for a fact that we have a QB who was not good enough his original team to say ‘that’s our guy’. Like if you married your back up plan because the girl who was your dream girl wasn’t available. She may be a great girl, but not ‘The One’. Cheesy analogy, but it works. Suffice to say, I personally will never see Flynn as Seattle QB. I never liked Hasselbeck, Holmgren nor Alexander. They represented a soft hearted and mushy style of football which I did not enjoy. Watching Rufus Porter, Jacob Green and Joe Nash just annihilate guys, even in losing efforts, was much more to my liking. I would much rather see us pursue Barkley fervently in the draft next year and have him be the handpicked ‘Man’ from the get-go. Much like Brady= NE Patriot football, and Manning= IND Colts football (regardless of his current team). So I suppose it’s just waiting it out and seeing how everything plays out in the end. And you’re right about Jennings- I couldn’t remember for the life of me if he had returned to the roster yet at that point. And Finley was pulled in early the third, but Flynn already had 4 TD’s at that point.

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