2023 Big 12 Championship - Oklahoma State v Texas
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We put them into categories before putting each into individual tiers. Rankings include everything from sleepers to speedsters.

The beauty of the wide receiver position is that there isn’t a “prototype” required to be successful. It helps to play in a Kyle Shanahan or Sean McVay offense, but 6’2, 201-pound Puka Nacua couldn’t differ more as a player than 6’, 200-pound Brandon Aiyuk. Yet, those two NFC West wideouts lit up the NFL in 2023.

This year’s wide receiver class is a treasure trove of diversity: small, slender, lanky, tall, fast, lumbering, ball-winners, and YAC threats. If you need a wideout to make a significant impact over the next four years, consider yourself fortunate.

I’ll do my utmost to rank and categorize this year’s class. This won’t be your typical internet ranking. I’m comfortable with having a unique perspective. For what it’s worth, I’ve been training wide receivers every Saturday for the past year and a half. I played this position in college and have been coaching it for over five years. I mention this to assure you, the reader, that the analysis is backed by a solid foundation.

I could not care less where the prospect gets drafted. This is based on how productive these prospects will be at the next level. This year, more than ever, I attempted to factor in the situation. Some plays aren’t transferrable to the next level. Other times, a player could be wide open after running a brilliant route, but because he wasn’t targeted, he’s getting penalized when we talk about his production in the box score.

So, without further ado, I have my wide receiver rankings for the 2024 NFL Draft class for you.

Fleet of foot

5) Xavier Legette – South Carolina
4) Brian Thomas – LSU
3) Malik Nabers – LSU
2) Tez Walker – North Carolina
1) Xavier Worthy – Texas

This class is full of cheetahs. Mind you, this is less about 40 times and more about how they look when they don’t have to get in a track stance and run in a straight line. For example, Oregon’s Troy Franklin plays faster than his 4.41 40-yard dash. He’s a blur. Texas’s AD Mitchell has the type of speed that you don’t realize how fast he is until it’s too late.

Neither cracks the top five, which speaks to the speed demons in this class.

Legette is a thoroughbred. The 221-pounder picks up speed the more strides he takes. After the catch, I can see a coach like Kliff Kingsbury falling in love with his skill set and ability.

Walker is mostly a one-trick pony, too, but that pony is a weapon that can be used in any offense. A team looking to push the ball down the field or needing somebody to clear out routes for them should covet Walker in the third or fourth rounds.

LSU had an embarrassment of riches at wide receiver as Thomas and Nabers could be selected in the top 20. Both played in an offense where they could highlight that game-breaking speed on every play due to the lack of press coverage they faced.

There isn’t much to add about Worthy that has already not been said. He ran a 4.21 at the NFL Combine. He was expected to run in the 4.2s, and he did not disappoint. Worthy’s size may limit his role, as few wideouts of his stature excel at the next level. You’re hoping that he’s closer to Desean Jackson than John Ross.

Sure-fire separators

This class is stocked with high-end athletes, but these are the top three separators in the class that I watched.

3) AD Mitchell – Texas
2) Ladd McConkey – Georgia
1) Marvin Harrison Jr. – Ohio State

When you’re asked to run a crossing route, I’m looking to see you set your defender up. Mitchell and Harrison Jr. are tremendous at winning on in-breaking routes thanks to the subtle nuances in their route running. Both execute “stair stepping” — pushing your route vertically and then snapping it off horizontally (read, flat) to gain separation — to perfection.

Teams were terrified of Mitchell’s speed, and he used that to his advantage on underneath routes. It looks like he’d coast or glide off the line, but when you pause it, he’s at the same depth or further downfield than his teammate, Mr. 4.21 Worthy. I’m higher on Mitchell than most because he won on routes you need to in the NFL.

McConkey will annoy you if you’re playing against him. If I have a young quarterback, I’m drafting McConkey in the second round as his security blanket. He’s clean at the top of his routes, as he can run any route from 12 yards and in at full speed. Once he gets the defensive back to commit one way, McConkey cuts in the opposite direction.

There are other questions about McConkey’s game. Still, his ability to separate underneath in the slot ensures that he’ll be among the league leaders in first-down receptions early in his career.

Harrison Jr. is an S-tier prospect who managed over 1,100 yards in back-to-back seasons on a team where he played alongside two other first-round prospects with a superstar QB and a season where his quarterback play was shaky at best. Everybody knew he was getting the ball, and he still came through when it mattered the most.

MHJ’s route running is superb, with no wasted movements. All three of these wideouts use tempo and change of pace to get open, but none do so at the level Harrison Jr. does. I would not want to be the “smart” guy in the room who didn’t have him No. 1 in this class.

Contested catch kings

Whenever Ohio State threw a 50/50 ball to Harrison Jr., it felt like he’d come down with it. Instead of putting him in every ranking, we’ll give him a break for this category. When I think of 50/50 passes, it’s about how a player judges the flight of the ball in the air, plays through contact, and ends up finishing. These are the three best ball winners in the class:

3) Keon Coleman – Florida State
2) Javon Baker – UCF
1) Rome Odunze – Washington

Coleman looks like a player who played on Tom Izzo’s Michigan State basketball team in college. He’s the best leaper in the draft as a wide receiver. He can levitate. At Florida State, Coleman had every opportunity to show off his catch radius. He’s the kind of wideout you throw a red zone fade to every other possession, knowing his athleticism will prevail.

Baker’s 71st percentile wingspan is noticeable in contested situations. He does a tremendous job of using his frame to shield the defender, use late hands, and consistently high-point the ball. Baker makes acrobatic catches look routine, and his reel of contested catches rivals any wideout in the class. It should not look as easy as Baker makes it.

Over 21 percent of Odunze’s targets in 2023 were contested, so he had plenty of practice. He caught 70 percent of those passes, which is an insane number with or without context. Odunze is unbothered with a defender draped over him, and his body control and tracking ability are among the best you’ll see in a wide receiver. Contested catches are Odunze’s calling card, and it’s something he mastered at Washington.

Creating for yourself

One of the most pertinent evolutions in the NFL has been the reliance on wide receivers creating for themselves once the ball is in their hands. Deebo Samuel was an All-Pro in 2021 because of his innate ability to make something out of nothing. Here are the best wideouts with the ball in their hands in this draft.

5) Jamari Thrash – Louisville
4) Malik Washington – Virginia
3) Malachi Corley – Western Kentucky
2) Keon Coleman – Florida State
1) Malik Nabers – LSU

I’m going with a couple of names that won’t get mentioned again in this category. I’m excluding a popular name — Ladd McConkey — as I didn’t see how he won after the catch would translate to the next level the way these five would. I believe playing in tight quarters and lack of play strength will hinder McConkey’s game at the next level in this area.

Thrash is a no-nonsense runner who specializes in running after the catch. He was seventh among all draft-eligible wideouts in broken tackles per reception. Thrash will need to land in the right situation to see the field in the NFL, but if he does, it’ll be thanks to his ability to turn a five-yard reception into a first down, thanks to his shiftiness.

Washington was Virginia’s offense. They wanted to get him the ball so severely at times that Washington would line in the Cavaliers’ backfield. What I love most about Washington’s game is his decisiveness. He’s looking to maximize every one of his touches. He’s in the third percentile in height, and his weight, wingspan, and arm length are below the 25th percentile. But there were too many exposures of Washington making plays and moving the chains when the ball was in his hands, not to mention him in this category.

Corley’s nickname is the “YAC King,” and for good reason. That was essentially all he did at Western Kentucky, and he was quite good at it. Corley has above-average vision and is a lot more physical than you’d expect before you watched him. His contact balance helps Corley pick up hidden yards.

Coleman was sixth in broken tackles forced per reception among wideouts. His body control to avoid a defender when the ball is in his hands may be more impressive when he’s tracking passes in the air, which is saying something. Coleman’s athleticism was on full display as Florida State’s punt returner. When the Seminoles threw him screen passes, you could see his change of direction and acceleration. The draft community severely underrates him after the catch.

My comp for Nabers is if Reggie Bush played receiver full-time. No player in the draft forced more missed tackles than Nabers. He reaches top speed by his third step and erases angles from second-level defenders. Nabers is a dynamic playmaker who could be a fantastic weapon in the right situation.


Every year, there are wideouts drafted on Day 3 who end up producing within their first two seasons. It’s difficult to project where these players will ultimately end up being drafted, but here are three I like to continue that tradition in this class.

3) Roman Wilson – Michigan
2) Ja’Lynn Polk – Washington
1) Javon Baker – Central Florida

The 5’10, 185-pound receiver out of Michigan only had one game with double-digit targets in 2023. Wilson would’ve put up video game numbers in some of these other offenses around the country. Instead, he played in Jim Harbaugh’s offense. However, Wilson might be a better alternative value-wise than McConkey if you’re looking for a player to convert those short to intermediate routes.

His size will limit Wilson to the slot, but 31 of his 40 receptions went for first downs. Best of all, he has experience running routes over the middle, is sure-handed, and, despite his frame, does not shy away from contact. Wilson reminds me of Sterling Shepard.

Polk was Mr. Efficient for Washington this past season. Thirty-seven of his 55 receptions went for first downs. There isn’t anything he does that’ll “wow you,” but Polk has plenty of positives in his game. He’s a legitimate threat at every level. Not many wideouts can say that, so he should be ranked higher because of that skill.

There’s evidence of Polk defeating press coverage and finding holes in the zone against off-coverage, and his athletic profile would lead you to believe there’s plenty of upside. I also think his play strength and toughness will make him a popular prospect in the NFL.

Baker would have been viewed in a different light had he stayed at Alabama. I’m an unapologetic fan of his. Watching UCF, all Baker did was get open. Unfortunately, that did not always result in production. Curls, in-breakers, and deep routes were all areas Baker won at in college. He knows how to set a cornerback up, and while he lacks the explosiveness of the other perceived top wideouts, Baker has the initial speed and suddenness to separate.

Where he’s not getting enough credit is his competitiveness. Baker’s usage of screens tells me UCF’s coaching staff knows he’s a playmaker with the ball in his hands. Baker falling outside of the top 50 will be a mistake. If he makes it to the end of the third round, Kyle Shanahan should waste no time turning the card in for Baker.

We don’t trust you

This category speaks for itself. When I watched these top prospects, there were more questions than answers. There are obvious paths to each’s success, but I’ll be lower on them than the consensus.

3) Ladd McConkey – Georgia
2) Rome Odunze – Washington
1) Brian Thomas – LSU

The good news is McConkey proved he can separate. The bad news is the majority of his film came against off coverage. There is a lot of projection here.

In the NFL, his routes will need to be pristine. McConkey’s wingspan, arm length, weight, and hand size were all in the 17th percentile or worse. Plus, he missed several games this past season due to an ankle and back injury. He also missed time in 2022 despite being Georgia’s leading receiver. You cannot ignore McConkey’s injury history at his size.

I may be the only person on the planet who isn’t all in on Odunze. His hands and tracking ability are elite. He tested like an all-world athlete. But how many times is he pulling away from defenders on fades or post routes? Why does that burst never show up? Why are there so many contested opportunities? How come in YAC situations, he’s getting six or seven yards instead of 17 or 18?

Wide receivers who get drafted inside of the top 10 are generally elite separators and can make you miss or destroy press coverage. Odunze doesn’t do any of those. There are reps engrained in my head of Odunze struggling against press coverage or at the top of his route that leads me to believe he’ll be closer to a WR2 than a top-10 wideout in the NFL. Perhaps that’s on the NFL for where Odunze will be selected and not on him.

Thomas Jr. is obnoxiously speedy. That’s not debatable. I believe he’s not as far along as a receiver to warrant a first-round grade. Thomas’s precision as a route runner is severely lacking. At the line of scrimmage, he leaves his chest exposed too often. When he’s going against off-coverage, his feet get outside of his frame when it’s time to break or cut, causing him to slip or take false steps, which helps the defender catch up. When the ball is thrown his way, there are body catches when there doesn’t need to be, or the natural feel you’d want to see — like coming back to the ball — doesn’t exist.

Thomas Jr. could wind up being a star after everything clicked for him. For me, where he’s projected, that’s not a risk I’m willing to take based on the product he’s put on the field.

Wide receiver tiers

I’ll rank the wideouts in tiers, from five to one. If you do not see a player ranked, that’s because he did not make the top 20 cut. This exercise is about identifying what a player does well and if their skill set translates to the highest level.

Tier 5 – “We made the team”

20) Jamari Thrash – Louisville
19) Malik Washington – Virginia
18) Johnny Wilson – Florida State
17) Jalen McMillan – Washington
16) Ricky Pearsall – Florida

Pearsall is a fifth-year senior who tested like an elite athlete. But there’s no nuance to his routes, and when your wingspan is in the 17th percentile, the margin for error as a target is slim. That was a glaring issue at Florida when the quarterback was off-target. That should be magnified in the NFL, limiting Pearsall’s effectiveness.

Wilson could’ve made the contested catches category, but there’s some sweet irony there, as that could be the reason he’s out of the league sooner rather than later.

I’m not sure what McMillan does to differentiate himself from others. These players will make rosters, but finding roles for them is difficult.

Tier 4 – Situation dependent

15) Malachai Corley – Western Kentucky
14) Tez Walker – North Carolina
13) Xavier Legette – South Carolina
12) Roman Wilson – Michigan

This speedy group will need to go to an offense that has a well-thought-out plan for how to use them.

A team like the Dallas Cowboys, Green Bay Packers, or Buffalo Bills may take Walker earlier than expected as they have quarterbacks capable and willing to push the ball down the field.

But if you’re expecting Corley to fill a Cooper Kupp role or Wilson to be what Calvin Ridley was on the Jacksonville Jaguars, then these players are set up to fail before they step onto the field.

Legette is too physically gifted not to rank, but he’s a player that might be most situation-dependent. He’s fast, but it takes time to reach his top-level speed. An apt comparison for Legette might be Chris Conley.

Tier 3 – Boom or bust slash safety net

12) Xavier Worthy – Texas
11) Ladd McConkey – Georgia
10) Troy Franklin, Oregon
9) Ja’Lynn Polk – Washington
8) Brian Thomas Jr. – LSU

There are unteachable traits in this group. Worthy and Thomas Jr. are explosive plays waiting to happen. However, their technique as route runners and overall awareness are why they aren’t higher.

McConkey is just what the doctor ordered for the Carolina Panthers or Pittsburgh Steelers, but I wouldn’t fear him on an every-down basis, which is why he’s here.

Two years from now, I’ll wonder why Polk wasn’t higher. The Jaguars, Los Angeles Chargers, and Bills should be head over heels for him — as should most teams.

Tier 2 – Day 1 starters

Six receivers in this draft should start the second they step onto the field, and that’s not counting the five from Tier 3. That speaks to the depth of this class. It’s loaded, and you’d be foolish not to draft a receiver.

6) Keon Coleman – Florida State
5) Rome Odunze – Washington
4) Javon Baker – UCF
3) Malik Nabers – LSU

Some will get caught up in seeing Baker ranked ahead of Odunze or Coleman in the same tier as Nabers. When I watch them, all of these players are in the same tier.

Coleman’s floor is much higher than many lead on, as he’s a dominant ball winner and an excellent player with the ball in his hands. He will be 20 on draft day and is already the best red zone threat in the draft. It feels naive to assume he won’t continue to refine his skills.

Teams will draft Odunze thinking they’re getting Mike Evans or DeAndre Hopkins when he’s closer to Chris Godwin or Allen Robinson. I’m not taking that player in the top 10.

Baker knows how to play the position, and I cannot stress how important that is when entering the NFL. He’s not Amon-Ra St. Brown, but his IQ as far as setting defenders up and knowing when to hit the turbo button rivals that of the Lions’ star wideout. Baker will be a 1,000-yard receiver within the first three seasons of his rookie contract.

LSU ran a 7-on-7 type of offense that, if you evaluate objectively without pom-poms or expectations, you’re forced to eliminate much of what you see. The amount of off-coverage, double moves, and YAC generated from the space generated in that offense meant there was a lot of drawing a red line through Nabers’ plays.

He’s an exceptional talent, but the draft community is pretending there won’t be an adjustment or learning curve once Nabers reaches the NFL. I’m not. I’d expect his career to play out a lot like Jaylen Waddle’s—who is an outstanding player!

Tier 1 – The stars of the class

2) AD Mitchell – Texas
1) Marvin Harrison Jr. – Ohio State

I laugh at a lot of the critique I see about Mitchell. He’s a star. He could’ve made the ball winners category, as Mitchell’s tracking skills and ability to “Moss” a defensive back are rare traits for a player his size. His speed is spectacular, but he might be just as sudden, which will only make him more dangerous at the next level.

Some have questioned his catching technique, but, from what I saw, Mitchell is a big-bodied receiver who is comfortable shielding defenders off. I’m projecting here, but with viable quarterback play, Mitchell is comfortably a No. 1 receiver at the next level. He caught 92 percent of the catchable passes his way. I can forgive a player for focus drops — as I did with Nabers.

You can see his athleticism in the routes he runs. Mitchell can run something simple or a route that requires multiple cuts. On top of all this, Texas leaned on him early and often when they needed a play. All Mitchell did was deliver. That’s true, going back to his time at Georgia, when he caught the game-tying touchdown in the biggest game or had a back-shoulder fade against future first-rounder Christian Gonzalez.

Mitchell should be selected in the top 10, making his value in the late first or early second better than anybody in this class. I love his intent as a blocker and overall competitiveness. I have a difficult time seeing him “fail” at the next level.

Do not let the Chiefs draft him, or next year, he will look a lot like the Vikings in 1998.

Harrison Jr. isn’t flawless, but here are my concerns for him: He is not always engaged as a blocker. Might get hung up against press every now and then. Isn’t the niftiest player with the ball in his hands.

That’s it. He should be the featured player in whatever offense drafts him. Harrison Jr. would be WR1 in any class.

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