2024 NFL Draft Position Review: Wide Receivers

Marvin Harrison Jr.


Wide Receiver Class

Early-round talent: A
Mid-round: A+
Late-round: B+
Overall grade: A

Merging the 2023 and 2024 prospects

Marvin Harrison Jr.
Malik Nabers
Rome Odunze
Jaxon Smith-Njigba
Quentin Johnston
Zay Flowers
Jordan Addison
Brian Thomas Jr.
Xavier Worthy
Xavier Legette
Jonathan Mingo
Adonai Mitchell
Jayden Reed
Rashee Rice
Ladd McConkey
Marvin Mims

Just to be clear, this article and series is all my opinion based off my own study and information I’ve gotten from general managers, directors of college scouting, national scouts, area scouts and NFL coaches. They all know way more than I do.

This year’s class of wide receivers is phenomenal. There is elite top-10 talent, a number of other quality first-rounders, and an excellent group for Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft.

If you were to merge the two classes together, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze would be rated higher than any of the receivers from the 2023 NFL Draft. Brian Thomas Jr., Xavier Worthy and Xavier Legette would be late first-rounders on a par with Zay Flowers and Jordan Addison. Adonai Mitchell would be comparable to Jonathan Mingo or Jayden Reed. Ladd McConkey would be similar to Rashee Rice or Marvin Mims.

Safest Pick: Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Previous Picks
2023: Quentin Johnston
2022: Drake London
2021: Ja’Marr Chase
2020: Jerry Jeudy
2019: Deebo Samuel
2018: Christian Kirk
2017: Corey Davis
2016: Will Fuller
2015: Amari Cooper
2014: Sammy Watkins
2013: DeAndre Hopkins

This was an easy choice because I think Harrison translates the best to the NFL thanks to having a long frame, good speed, and being dangerous after the catch. He also possesses mismatch size, quality route-running, and natural receiving ability. Harrison should be a very good pro receiver.

Biggest Bust Potential: Tez Walker, North Carolina

Previous Picks
2023: Jalin Hyatt
2022: David Bell
2021: Elijah Moore
2020: Denzel Mims
2019: N’Keal Harry
2018: Auden Tate
2017: Curtis Samuel
2016: Corey Coleman
2015: Devin Funchess
2014: Kelvin Benjamin
2013: Cordarrelle Patterson

Some analysts are projecting Walker to be a first- or second-round pick, and I think that could be a dangerous selection. Walker has some speed, but he is raw as a route-runner and drops a lot of passes. I could see Walker frustrating his coaches and quarterbacks, which would lead to him not panning out as a pro starter.

Wide Receiver Rankings by Attributes

Separation:

NFL prototype: Ja’Marr Chase, Bengals

  1. Malik Nabers
  2. Marvin Harrison Jr.
  3. Xavier Worthy
  4. Ladd McConkey
  5. Brian Thomas Jr.
  6. Xavier Legette
  7. Adonai Mitchell
  8. Rome Odunze

Recap: A few wide receivers coaches told WalterFootball.com that the ability to separate from coverage is the first trait they look for in scouting draft prospects. Nabers is the best in this draft class at getting space from defensive backs. He does it with elite speed, quick feet, fast route-running, and suddenness out of his breaks. Nabers’ separation skill is one of his best traits.

Harrison and Worthy are fast receivers who can separate from defensive backs based on pure foot speed. They are tough for defensive backs to run with and are able to generate space running vertically or crossing the field. Both are dynamic playmakers who are threats to break wide open deep down the field on any given snap.

Both McConkey and Thomas are threats to blow by defensive backs on any snap. They are explosive wideouts who can run past defensive backs. McConkey is smooth out of his break, and Thomas is very dangerous running go routes. Leggette is better at getting open on a variety of routes, which gives him the edge over Odunze. Mitchell has some deep speed. Odunze could have issues generating separation from NFL corners, but he is adept at finding space late in the route with his excellent ability to make catches over defensive backs.

Hands:

NFL prototype: Justin Jefferson, Vikings

  1. Marvin Harrison Jr.
  2. Rome Odunze
  3. Malik Nabers
  4. Ladd McConkey
  5. Xavier Worthy
  6. Xavier Legette
  7. Adonai Mitchell
  8. Brian Thomas Jr.

Recap: This is a nice crop of sure-handed receivers. Harrison has good hands, and he rarely drops a pass. Harrison attacks the football with his hands and really snatches it out of the air. Odunze and Nabers have hands that are effortless, and they are natural receivers. McConkey and Worthy show strong hands for a smaller wideouts.

Legette’s hands are average. Mitchell had some drops at times, but he demonstrated steady hands over other stretches. Thomas had some dropped passes, but he has to upside to improve his hands in the NFL if he works at his craft.

Deep Speed:

NFL prototype: Tyreek Hill, Dolphins

  1. Xavier Worthy
  2. Malik Nabers
  3. Brian Thomas Jr.
  4. Marvin Harrison Jr.
  5. Xavier Legette
  6. Adonai Mitchell
  7. Rome Odunze
  8. Ladd McConkey

Recap: All of the receivers in this group have the ability to stretch the field vertically. Worthy, Nabers, Thomas and Harrison are legit deep-threat receivers with dangerous speed. They are fast receivers who can take a top off of a defense. Each has deep speed that is one of the special dimensions they bring to the table.

Legette and Mitchell are dangerous deep-threat receivers for the NFL, and they both showed that over the course of their college careers. Both of them are capable of running past defensive backs to get open in the deep part of the field.

Odunze is a not a deep-speed receiver who burns defenses with pure explosion, but he does make big plays downfield. He possesses quickness and is superb at going up to get the ball over defensive backs. McConkey has enough quickness to get downfield, but he might be more of a slot receiver as a pro.

Route-Running:

NFL prototype: Amon-Ra St. Brown, Lions

  1. Marvin Harrison Jr.
  2. Malik Nabers
  3. Ladd McConkey
  4. Xavier Worthy
  5. Rome Odunze
  6. Xavier Legette
  7. Adonai Mitchell
  8. Brian Thomas Jr.

Recap: Route-running is a critical part of gaining separation in the NFL. Receivers who get sloppy in their routes have a hard time getting open. Extra steps allow defensive backs to maintain coverage or give them more time to recover. This group of eight wideouts has some fantastic route-runners, plus there are some excellent route-runners elsewhere in this draft class with players like Florida’s Ricky Pearsall and Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk. Pearsall and Polk both have route-running comparable to McConkey.

Whether it was innate or he was taught by his father, Harrison is an advanced route-runner. Many big receivers struggle to run routes as fluidly as Harrison does. He has lower body flexibility and can sink his hips to turn quickly. Harrison has a nice burst out of his breaks to get separation from cornerbacks with a second gear to accelerate away from them.

Being very fast with quick feet leads to Nabers being a fluid route-runner who maintains speed through the route and gives him explosion out of his breaks. Nabers is very smooth, and he really accelerates with ease. Nabers is dangerous route-runner, and cornerbacks face a real challenge in keeping him from getting open.

McConkey is a smooth route-runner who doesn’t take extra steps in and out of his breaks. He has enough quickness through the route with shiftiness to generate separation from press coverage. For Georgia, McConkey used his route-running and quickness to consistently generate separation from good competition.

Worthy is very explosive off the line of scrimmage and shows twitchy moves out of his break to create separation from defensive backs. As Worthy is extremely fast, cornerbacks really struggle to run with him and he is able to create separation off of sheer speed.

Odunze is a polished route-runner who does a nice job of not taking extra steps. He is not as fast and sudden as the top four. Legette, Mitchell and Thomas are solid route-runners, but they all could use more polish and development for the NFL.

Yards After the Catch:

NFL prototype: Deebo Samuel, 49ers

  1. Ladd McConkey
  2. Malik Nabers
  3. Marvin Harrison Jr.
  4. Xavier Worthy
  5. Brian Thomas Jr.
  6. Xavier Legette
  7. Rome Odunze
  8. Adonai Mitchell

Recap: The ability to turn a short reception into a big gain can make a receiver elite. Among the eight receivers above, all of them have some run-after-the-catch ability, and I wouldn’t say there is one that is really bad.

McConkey and Nabers are outstanding runners after the catch. Harrison and Worthy have some moves along with toughness that makes them tough to tackle downfield. Thomas and Legette show the ability to run for yards after the catch.

While he is a little straight line, Odunze still has some yards-after-the-catch talent with his ability to dart past defenders for extra yardage. Mitchell is a linear speed receiver after the catch.

Red Zone:

NFL prototype: CeeDee Lamb, Cowboys

  1. Rome Odunze
  2. Marvin Harrison Jr.
  3. Brian Thomas Jr.
  4. Xavier Legette
  5. Malik Nabers
  6. Adonai Mitchell
  7. Ladd McConkey
  8. Xavier Worthy

Recap: This was a tough category to rank because so many of the receivers were excellent point producers in college. Odunze and Harrison are the best red-zone weapons of the group, as they are big wideouts and are very dangerous to win 50-50 passes. On top of being able to sky over defenders for scores, they can make underneath catches and use their running ability to go through defenders to cross the goal line.

Thomas could be very good in the red zone, and he had 17 touchdowns in 2023. He is dangerous red-zone threat given his height, leaping ability, and skill to win 50-50 passes.

Legette has enough size, and his speed helps him to uncover quickly. He should be a good red-zone option as a pro. Nabers could be a good red-zone weapon in the NFL thanks to his size and toughness. He can win contested catches and get open quickly in the short, condensed part of the field.

Mitchell has size to be a red-zone contributor at the next level. McConkey and Worthy all have some red-zone potential with their respective ability to get open quickly.



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