Nearly four years in a row now, the NFL Draft has produced elite talent at the wide receiver position. This year appears to be no different.
The next piece in my devy summer scouting series focuses on the talented pass catchers, most of whom have a chance to hear their name called on day one or two next spring. That’s a long time though, between now and next spring, so let’s not waste any more of our precious time.
There are two studs at the top of this class…
Marvin Harrison Jr, Ohio State – 604 205, Jr
Emeka Egbuka, Ohio State – 601 205, Jr
The true junior pairing are arguably the two best wide receivers in college football this year. Let’s start with Harrison Jr.
No need to sugarcoat this – he is the best wide receiver in football and arguably the best player overall. He reminds me so much of… his Hall of Fame father, of course! His ability to win at every level, to use his length and catch radius to make acrobatic catches, his catch and run ability, his sideline footwork, ball skills, and body control – it is all there. He is already a projected top-five pick next year. In today’s NFL, and the way in which the league now puts a premium on difference-making wide receivers, the future is bright for Harrison Jr. He will step in on day one and be a team’s future franchise WR1.
Egbuka was also a top recruit in 2021 out of the state of Washington and is very talented himself. He has strong, sticky hands at the catch point and a long catch radius. He is also an exceptional route runner with twitchy change of direction and makes plays when the ball is in his hands. He can separate vertically and create explosive plays and a strong red zone target. He will need to develop in using his athleticism more, but overall, Egbuka is a strong day one prospect and future franchise WR1 with a WR1a floor. He will be a top 20 pick and early to mid day one projection.
Malik Nabers, LSU – 600 199, Jr
Nabers burst onto the scene for the Tigers in 2022, catching over 70 passes and racking up over 1,000 yards receiving. He appears to be the next one in a lineage of former Tigers’ wideouts produced to the next level. He shared the field with former standout Kayshon Boutte – but if you just watch the 2022 Tigers, it was clear Nabers was the alpha in the room.
He’s got a good size profile as an outside perimeter receiver. He is quick to get into the top of routes off the line of scrimmage and flashes a twitched-up release. He showed he can leverage corners and attack their inside shoulder in their trail position and stem to the outside to create separation on vertical routes. He can be strong at the catch point when he has to and has exceptional ball skills and body control to adjust to off-target or inaccurate throws.
He is continuing to develop his technical skills as a receiver, but he regularly showed an ability to sink his hips and stem at the top of routes with sharp, explosive cuts in change of direction routes. I really liked Nabers’ ability to see what’s being given to him pre-snap and adjust after – whether it be shortening his routes in off-man coverage or sitting down in soft spots against zone. Nabers was a do-it-all receiver for the Tigers. He will be talked about and debated a lot, between now, and next April, as a top-three receiver in 2024.
Should he declare and get the proper draft capital, Nabers has a good chance of being worthy of a first-round selection in rookie drafts. His range feels like it could be anywhere from a mid-first to an early-second-round pick.
Rome Odunze, Washington – 603 211, r-Jr
Jalen McMillan, Washington – 600 189, r-Jr
Like the pair of Buckeyes mentioned earlier, a pair of Washington Huskies receivers made this summer scouting list. Both return in 2023 after having caught over 70 balls and 1,000 yards receiving last season. The interesting part is that both were productive, but are two very different types of receivers.
Let’s start with Odunze. The redshirt junior had a super productive year as the X receiver in first-year coach Kalen DeBoer’s program. Odunze has good size and is big-bodied at a listed 6 ft 3. He is an imposing target over the middle of the field and can make tough, contested catches between the numbers. Right now, Odunze really understands how he can use size/frame to win, including stacking at the top of routes and positioning his body between the ball and defender. He also flashed some catch-and-run ability, with a good burst to create chunk plays. He does not have very much long speed and will need to improve his route versatility, but he was super productive and has day-two tape heading into 2023.
As for his running mate, McMillan fits the mold of the skilled slot receiver that starts in three wide receiver sets. He is a tremendous route runner. It is probably his best trait. He is exceptionally fluid and a loose athlete that is precise and sharp at the top of routes. He understands how to be precise in his routes and create separation with his change of direction. He has soft, sticky hands and nearly catches everything. He often lined up in the slot, but he has positional versatility to be used at every receiver spot in 11 personnel. McMillan can identify space in zone and attack the soft spots or shorten routes and sit in open windows. He should not be forgotten about for the Huskies this season. It is quite possible he plays his way as the better receiver prospect for the Huskies in next year’s draft. He is also a solid day-two prospect.
Xavier Worthy, Texas – 601 164, Jr
Worthy was productive for the Longhorns last season, checking in at a listed 165 pounds. The size is a concern, but the speed and explosiveness are what to focus on with Worthy. He displayed positional versatility, able to play in the slot and also lined up outside in Steve Sarkisian’s offense. He is twitchy off the ball and explosive in his breaks. That speed as I mentioned gives him the ability to create explosive plays in the short pass game or take the top off the defense. He can run routes at all three levels and has good hands. When he has to, he can play bigger than his size showing good ball skills to attack the football at its catch point. If he has another productive year, I think Worthy will be very popular amongst both real-life and dynasty football fans. His tape is good, and he can leap into day two territory if he builds off 2022. But he has top-100 talent right now.
Keon Coleman, Florida State – 604 215, Jr
Coleman’s size is the first thing that stands out on his tape. He’s listed 6 ft 4, 215 pounds, and plays very much to it. That size and athleticism allow him to roam the intermediate area of the field and make tough, contested catches. He fits as a boundary, X receiver with that size and length, and his long catch radius gives him the ability to extend and make tough, sideline catches. Corners often tried to jam him and interrupt the timing in his routes, but he often won by winning the hand-fighting battle. I think this is one of the more underrated traits Coleman displayed at Michigan State, using a combination of a swim/club, or club/swim maneuver. He displayed more than just a big-bodied catch point receiver, also flashing catch/run ability to create explosive plays, and long speed to win on vertical routes.
After a disappointing season for the Spartans, Coleman entered the transfer portal where he was a hot commodity and enrolled at Florida State. He will join Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis, to give him another weapon on the outside. Coleman will be a player you will want to be on your radar. I ranked him as a Top 50 prospect with day one upside. If he succeeds in Tallahassee with Travis, he could be at or near the top five prospects at the position.
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- Devy Summer Scouting Series: Tight Ends - August 22, 2023