The Philadelphia Eagles are bringing another running back into the stable. The team intends to sign JaQuan Hardy and let the 225-pounder compete for a backfield job at training camp. He would be a contender to fill the Jordan Howard role.
The deal isn’t finalized yet but there is “mutual interest” between Hardy and the Eagles, per Heavy’s Matt Lombardo. If signed, the team would have six backs on the roster: Hardy, Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell, Jason Huntley, Kennedy Brooks. There had been whispers of them bringing back Howard, or another physical rusher like Devontae Booker.
Philadelphia appears to be settling on Hardy for the short term, a move first reported by Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Tomasson noted that the Minnesota Vikings were looking to bring in Hardy before the Eagles showed interest.
Hardy, a Cleveland native, went undrafted out of Tiffin University in 2021 before joining the Dallas Cowboys. He saw action in three games last season, including a surprise elevation in the season finale on January 8 against Philadelphia. Hardy rushed three times for 26 yards and scored a touchdown in that one.
General manager Howie Roseman hinted that he wasn’t done adding talent after the 2022 draft. He promised to monitor the waiver wire for undrafted hidden gems. Hardy – one touchdown on eight offensive snaps – might be one of those guys.
“We just try to be as aggressive as we can, and knowing just like in the draft we’ll get some guys and we’ll miss out on some guys,” Roseman told reporters on April 30. “I think we got a good class, and there will still be open roster spots when this is all over because we are going to continue to look for opportunities.”
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‘Bowling Ball’ in Tiffin University’s Backfield
Hardy was called a “bowling ball” at Tiffin due to his frame (5-foot-10, 225 pounds) and his aggressive running style. He is slight yet stout and looks for contact every time he touches the rock. Hardy jumped onto NFL scouts’ radars after being named Great Midwest Athletic Conference’s Male Athlete of the Year in 2019. He rushed for 1,554 yards on 204 carries that year with 15 touchdowns. However, he missed the 2020 campaign after catching COVID-19.
NFL Media’s Lance Zierlein projected Hardy to go in the seventh round while comparing him to Darrell Henderson of the Los Angeles Rams. Injuries and missed time – Hardy tore his meniscus in 2018, a knee injury that threatened his career – caused his draft stock to plummet.
“Lower-level running back with upper-level change of direction talent and lower-body balance,” Zierlein wrote. “Hardy does a nice job of pressing the line of scrimmage before unleashing rhythmic, explosive cuts according to his reads. He has a tendency to do too much at times and will need to be more willing to shut a run down and move to the next one against NFL speed.”
Hardy is also incredibly strong. Here is what the Cowboys’ website wrote about him in their draft profile:
The Good: Hardy is a smaller tailback that showcases good acceleration and fantastic balance that helps his elusiveness with the ball in hand. His go-to moves include a powerful stiff arm and the ability to clear defenders with a hurdle. Keeps his legs churning after initial contact and moves the pile with ease which is saying something about his strength in a smaller frame. That strength was also on display at his pro day with 21 bench press reps which had him towards the top of the list in terms of the running back class.
Doing Push-Ups For Not Getting Drafted
Hardy told the News Herald that he began doing 30 push-ups during each round he wasn’t picked at the 2021 draft. He began the imposed punishment at the start of the fourth round (pick No. 106) and had to stop at pick No. 158 after his arms started cramping. The 24-year-old never heard his name called that day, although the Cowboys would sign him after the draft.
“I would be lying if I said I didn’t want to hear my name called,” Hardy told Mark Podolski. “It’s mentally tough because everyone wants that. At the end of the day, God had a plan. It might not be the plan you want, but it’s what you need.”