Welcome back to the wide receiver Big Board. I am updating the big board pre-Senior Bowl. I am removing the guys who returned to school, updating a few profiles, and including my personal NFL draft grades. I will start with my top 15 and then it trails into tiers. Spoiler, I don’t have 15 guys rated as day 2 or higher, I expect there will be clear senior bowl risers that will get there. This Board will include:

  • School Listed size
    • The size I think they are
  • How many years they are removed from high school
  • The prospects’ projected role in the NFL
  • My personal NFL Draft Grade out of 10
  • Projected Draft Capital
  • I do my best to provide a player comparison
  • A short description

Major changes will come from the Senior Bowl performances, I don’t care much for the NFL Combine performances, it just means far less in recent years than prior. I will revisit the tape throughout the off-season as well. This will not be a full draft profile. This article would be 30,000 words long and considered a cruel punishment to our beloved editor at C2C, Dwight Peebles. This article is meant just for the ‘Cliff Notes’

WR1 – Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports
  • 6’4″ / 205 lbs.
    • (I think he’s closer to 6’2.5″)
  • Early Declare
  • Role: Possession / Alpha
  • Projected DC: Early 1st
  • NFL Draft Grade: 8.27
  • Player Comp: AJ Green

Harrison has been the best wide receiver in football for two years. He was the rightful winner of the Biletnikoff award last year and is building onto last year with another reproductive year with a major downgrade at QB. Harrison is a fluid athlete and explosive mover in and out of his breaks. He understands how to stack DBs on deep routes. He shows phenomenal instinct when it comes to the jump balls. The flexibility in his movement is almost unnatural. The biggest flaw in his game, it’s not often that he survives first contact in YAC situations.

WR2 – Malik Nabers, LSU

Malik Nabers - LSU Tigers wide receiver - ESPN
Photo Courtesy of ESPN
  • 6’0″ / 200 lbs.
  • Early Declare
  • Role: Possession
  • Projected DC: 1st
  • NFL Draft Grade: 7.99
  • Player Comp: DJ Moore

Nabers has been the most productive WR in the SEC, and most consistent. It’s hard to nail down his defining trait, what skillset he can offer any NFL team that they don’t have. He’s been matchup-proof across the SEC, consistently winning, and when I’m grading his film, it’s hard to find flaws. Nabers does everything well at a high level, but it’s hard to call him elite at any one thing. he has some of the best spatial awareness, and explodes out of his breaks, smooth into transitioning as a YAC threat. I believe Nabers can be a possession WR and a team WR1 for any offense.

WR3 – Rome Odunze, Washington

Rome Odunze is returning to Washington in 2023 — and that's no joke - The Athletic
Photo Courtesy of Christian Caple / The Athletic
  • 6’3″ / 215 lbs.
    • (I think he’s playing closer to 6’3″/200)
  • 4th year
  • Role: Contested Catch / Possession
  • Projected DC: 1st
  • NFL Draft Grades: 7.45
  • Player Comp: Courtland Sutton

Odunze has some of the best hands in the class. Over-the-shoulder catches are automatic for him. He’s great at making contested catches, boxing out defenders, and attacking the ball at the catch point. As a mover, he’s better than most his size and even shows attempts of double moves and deception in his routes. He has been shut down by the Michigan Corners in the National Championship but made the most on plays with busted coverage. I wouldn’t categorize Odunze as a savvy route runner or having the ability to turn as well as the top runners in the league, nor would I expect him to be at his height. He can get away with deficiencies in his route running through his superior athleticism. Odunze’s YAC ability is not something to be desired, nor a gritty runner, and lacks the vision as a runner. There were major improvements from his junior year when he would stop his feet right after the catch to survey the field in front of him.

WR4 – Xavier Worthy, Texas

Texas Longhorns: WR Xavier Worthy played with broken hand in '22
Photo from Randolf Gonzales / Associated Press
  • 6’1″ / 172 lbs.
    • (I think he’s closer to 6’0″/172)
  • Early Declare
  • Role: Field Stretcher / Possession
  • Projected DC: Late 1st – top 50
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.99
  • Player Comp: Will Fuller V

Worthy had one of the greatest true freshmen seasons of all time. He’s struggled with drops his entire collegiate career, and that’ll be a part of his profile. He’s the best deep threat with speed that’s hard to find in this class. Worthy has shown fluidity to get in and out of his breaks. I also find him underrated as a YAC threat, able to make a guy miss in the open field, and not shy of contact. The NFL is getting away from the physical game, and Worthy would fail in that environment. Worthy can be a boom or bust product at the next level, but he can offer more in the short and intermediate.

WR5 – Jalen McMillan, Washington

Jalen McMillan, Sean McGrew help give UW offense much-needed jolt in blowout win | The Seattle Times
Photo Courtesy of Dean Rutz / The Seattle Times
  • 6’1″ / 192 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: Possession
  • Projected DC: 2nd-3rd
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.84
  • Player Comp: More athletic Tyler Boyd / Jakobi Meyers

McMillan went through most of the 2023 suffering through an injury-mired season. He’s a good route runner, clean in and out of his breaks, has great footwork, great manipulator. He is not a special athlete. but I don’t think he is subpar on an NFL scale. I am confident about one thing, McMillan is one of the most reliable options in the middle of the field when healthy. McMillan’s biggest flaw is the body adjustment type of catches and overall ball skills. He will thrive with a QB that specializes in ball placement and overs versatility in playing inside or outside. I find his YAC ability underrated, a very good runner after the catch, He often finds himself catching balls in the middle of zone soft spots which defenses can collapse on easily. He can turn upfield.

Senior Bowl is only two weeks out and I am surprised to not see an accepted Senior Bowl Invite. I’m making the assumption he received a strong grade from the draft advisory board and has nothing to prove, or I’m overvaluing his skillset. This class lacks route runners and has plenty of skillset specialists. McMillan has a complete skill set.

WR6 – Devontez Walker, UNC

Photo Courtesy of Reinhold Matay/AP
  • 6’2.5″ / 200 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Field Stretcher / Gadget
  • Projected DC: 2nd
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.79
  • Player Comp: Mike Wallace (plus 2.5 inches)

Walker has the most scenic route to get where he is today. He is five years removed from high school but that’s not what this is about. Walker is a G5 to P5 success story with a clocked 23 MPH time in pads with a football in his hands. He doesn’t have the footwork to be a refined route runner, but he’s lethal when schemed open or used in space. Walker only needs to break away for one play to make an impact in any game. He exhibits some of the stronger hands in the class and is usable in those contested catch situations. I don’t think Walker could profile as a team’s WR1 option, but he could be that electric game-breaking WR2.

WR7 – Troy Franklin, Oregon

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7a763a40f5e946b396464da22b3262f9.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Andy Nelson | The Register-Guard
  • 6’3″ / 180 lbs.
    • (I think he is 6’2″/180)
  • Early Declare
  • Role: Field Stretcher
  • Projected DC: 2nd – early 3rd
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.69
  • Player Comp: DJ Chark

Every year, there’s one player I struggle with and this is the one. Franklin has a very slender frame. I find him bursty off the line and not bad at fighting off press coverage. He’s got superb ball-tracking ability and decent hands. I struggle with his route running. Usually, he’s a big fan of slow go’s, and great start-stop speed, but he primarily runs straight-line routes. Dropping hips is not usually a skill I look for in 6’3+ WR prospects, but I think Franklin is one of the best boundary WRs in college football. I find most of Franklin’s success as a straight-line WR has been winning in contested situations at the Pac-12 level, but I just don’t think at his frame that he can do it against more physical NFL corners. In recent history, we have cared less about size (Devonta Smith for example) but this hasn’t been proven for boundary WRs. I understand all the analytics that point in a positive direction, but I struggle to see how his skillset translates to the NFL unless you’re a believer that he’s a great manipulator and works well in the middle. I do believe Franklin’s ceiling could be a WR2 for an NFL team with the floor being a rotational piece in the offense.

WR8 – Keon Coleman, FSU

Photo Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
  • 6’4″ / 215 lbs.
  • Early Declare
  • Role: Alpha / Contested Catch
  • Projected DC: 2nd-mid 3rd
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.47
  • Player Comp: DeVante Parker

Coleman is your old-school bully ball wide receiver. Some phenomenal ball skills to go with the skillset. Coleman struggles to start/stop, so making him run comeback routes is not desirable. His partial awareness is also lacking. Overall, I think he struggles sitting still, or in situations that require patience. He’s a great athlete, especially in vertical situations. FSU has misused his skillset this year paired with a poor throwing QB has hurt Keon’s production profile and shown us his weaknesses. I still expect Coleman to be a starting X in the NFL and as long as he’s in motion I think he’s a great WR. I don’t want him used in situations where he needs to find soft spots in zone coverage

WR9 – Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU, Wide Receiver
Photo from David Rosenblum / Icon Sportswire, Getty
  • 6’4″ / 205 lbs.
  • Early Declare
  • Role: Field Stretcher
  • Projected DC: Late 2nd – 3rd
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.36
  • Player Comp: Martavis Bryant

Thomas has found his calling card this year. He was used in a possession role in 2022, and now they’ve flipped him to the outside in a field stretching capacity. Thomas is honestly bad at operating in the middle, not good at turning, very stiff, but straight line stuff, that’s his zone. His release at the line, when pressed, is more about going around a DB than through. His speed, combined with his large frame / long arms, makes him a deadly deep threat to any QB with a big arm, and the wingspan can help with ball placement issues. Thomas’s skillset is one-dimensional, so I view him as a boom-or-bust rotational piece. I also don’t value one-dimensional guys that highly. Offenses will likely attempt to give him manufactured passes to cash in on his speed, with the upside of becoming a premiere red zone threat.

WR10 – Adonai Mitchell, Texas

Photo Courtesy of Tim Warner/Getty Images
  • 6’4″ / 198 lbs.
  • Early Declare
  • Role: X-receiver
  • Projected DC: Late 2nd – 3rd
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.34
  • Player Comp: TBD

Mitchell is a very tough evaluation – he has the tools to be a first-round WR. The hip flexibility and movement ability could be special, combined with the size/frame to be a physical mismatch. He hasn’t put together a production profile, nor has lived up to his potential. Mitchell has a clear understanding of angles and shows off occassional route deception. This is Mitchell’s first healthy season, has shown cases of some NFL-level body adjustment catches, but overall very inconsistent play. Mitchell is the ‘tools” argument at WR this year and potentially one of the higher ceiling players out of the class but also the lowest floor. I find the age of WR where we take the chance on the big guys that are raw and hope they develop is coming to an end. I find it hard to believe that NFL teams with find the lackluster production profile appealing, but may be more willing to make an upside pick in the 3rd. Also, please add some muscle to your frame.

WR11 – Ricky Pearsall, Florida

UF football: Transfer Ricky Pearsall catching on quick with Gators
Photo courtesy of Kevin Brockway / Gator Sports
  • 6’1″ / 192 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Possession
  • Projected DC: 3rd-4th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 6.26
  • Comp: Christian Kirk

Pearsall plays half his time outside, but I believe that’s mostly due to necessity since Florida’s roster doesn’t have any good options at X. Pearsall is a slot specialist with decent short-area movement ability, but his real trump card is his ball skills. He is one of the most reliable options entering this draft.

WR12 – Ladd McConkey, Georgia

The Daily Recap: An update on Ladd McConkey - UGASports
Photo courtesy of Tony Walsh/UGA Sports Communications
  • 6’0″ / 185 lbs.
    • (I think he’s 5’11″/185)
  • 4th year
  • Role: Possession
  • Projected DC: 3rd-4th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.95
  • Comp: Hunter Renfrow

McConkey has the footwork, and short area burst you like to see in route to separate from DBs. He is not a superb athlete, i dont expect him to wow at the combine. He won’t excel in contested situations, and the overall physical game of the NFL should be a challenge for him. McConkey can be a killer in the slot and a reliable chain mover. His skill set is very play-calling dependent and would thrive with a dink-and-dunk type of system. I struggle seeing the high ceiling skillset but have full confidence he will be on NFL rosters for a long time.

WR13 Ainias Smith, Texas A&M

  • 5’10” / 200 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Possession / Gadget
  • Projected DC: 4th-5th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.38
  • Player Comp: Ty Montgomery

Smith was an RB convert WR early in his collegiate career. Smith has raw talent and a menace in the YAC capabilities. unfortunately, he’s had some off-field issues that I think NFL teams do take into account. He is too talented to not get drafted, and there’s reason to believe those issues are behind him. He’s a great athlete, deadly in space, has reliable hands, tough player. Smith could earn a rotational spot in an offense; there is a lot to like. I wish we could’ve seen him as a true #1 option in college to see what he could truly be capable of.

WR14 – Roman Wilson, Michigan

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • 6’0″ / 192 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: Field Stretcher
  • Projected DC: 4th-5th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.37
  • Comp: Mecole Hardman

Wilson was a delightful surprise this year. He’s been relatively quiet since his freshmen year and this year, he was JJ McCarthy’s safety blanket option. Wilson is another raw speedster, but still leaves me wondering what type of impact he has in a possession capacity. He does have a tendency to body catch. Wilson’s footwork is still a mystery and a closer look at the senior bowl will answer those questions. Michigan has had a cupcake schedule and saw a sharp drop in passing volume once the schedule got tough. Wilson has only needed to out-athlete players early int he season, but continued to be the safety blanket, so his level of refinement is up in the air. At a minimum, he could find a role on special teams as a kick returner.

WR15 Xavier Legette, South Carolina

  • 6’3″ / 227 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Alpha
  • Projected DC: 4th-5th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.37
  • Player Comp: Simi Fehoko

Legette’s rise to fame, I don’t believe could have happened without Antwane Wells getting injured at the very start of the season. This, combined with the very late fifth-year breakout, really doesn’t excite me. South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler seemed to make Legette his only read a lot of the time. Legette has a good release, but that footwork really isn’t there, and he lacks the crisp movement to develop into a route runner. He either wins at the line, or the play progresses long enough for him to get open with his superior athleticism. He’s a build up speed type of runner and may appeal as a manufacture touch type of weapon in the NFL.

Malachi Corley, Western Kentucky

  • 5’11” / 210 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: Gadget
  • Projected DC: 4th-5th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.35
  • Comp: Devin Duvernay

Our first G5 prospect, Corley, has been crushing at the G5 level with his YAC-centered skillset. He is an upright and violent runner that smaller G5 DBs struggle to bring him down once he gets moving. I’m not confident his skillset would translate to the P5 level, and really don’t think this skillset would translate to the NFL level. The question is if Corley can get open on his own or will need to be scheme open in space to capitalize on his skillset. In the route running department, I don’t find his footwork or short area burst to be special.

Brenden Rice, USC

USC football: Brenden Rice details leaving Colorado, following in father Jerry Rice's footsteps
Photo Courtesy of USC Athletics
  • 6’3″ / 205 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: X-receiver
  • Projected DC: 4th-5th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.16
  • Player Comp: Isaiah Hodgins

The son of Hall of Famer Jerry Rice. Brenden has some very good straight-line speed and occasionally showcases some nice footwork in his route deception. He is a guy who has flashed it all to us but never made everything he does well into a consistent part of his game. I’m not confident Rice could ever be a consistent starter for an NFL team, but he can do enough to make splash plays and stick around the league.

Jermaine Burton, Alabama

  • 6’0″ / 194 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: Possession / special teams
  • Projected DC: 5th-6th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.12
  • Player Comp: Not as Fast Trey Palmer

Burton has always been a raw athlete who hasn’t developed his footwork to become a route runner. He’s often found running into DB during his breaks. He shows up twice a year against G5 competition, hasnt really put it together or shown development. He has show cased some sticky hands getting thrown to by Jalen Milroe. However, Burton is a very good athlete and has tools that NFL coaches will want to attempt to develop. After three years of saying “he’s raw,” I wouldn’t be expecting him to turn it around. Regardless, the potential ROI will be intriguing to the NFL.

Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington

  • 6’2″ / 204 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: Contested Catch Specialist
  • Projected DC: 5th-7th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.11
  • Player Comp: Tylan Wallace

Ja’Lynn Polk can’t separate at all, lacks technical ability and a sub-par athlete on an NFL level. However, Polk has some of the best ball skills in the class. He’s great at tracking the ball, attacking the ball with his hands, and surviving through contact.

Xavier Weaver, Colorado

Colorado enters AP Top 25 at No. 22 after win over TCU - CUSportsReport
Photo Courtesy of Nigel Amstock/CU Sports Report
  • 6’1″ / 180 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Possession
  • Projected DC: 5th-6th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 5.06
  • Comp: TBD

Colorado has really fallen off down the stretch, and Weaver has failed to accept a senior bowl or shrine bowl invite. I believe Weaver deserves an invite to both. He has shown some promise as a route runner. He’s had some crisp routes and was used on manufactured touches. He plays soft at the catch point, and as a runner, I think that caps Weaver’s upside and will be a hurdle when trying to adjust to NFL game speed. I’m not confident there’s really anything special here, but he will be the first non-senior bowl/Shrine bowl invitee that gets drafted in this years class.

Jacob Cowing, Arizona

Jacob Cowing announces return to Arizona Football
Photo Courtesy of Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports
  • 5’11” / 175 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Possession/Special teams
  • Projected DC: 6th-7th
  • Player Comp: Greg Dortch

Cowing’s 2022 season was his first season against P5 competition, moving up from UTEP. I thought he adjusted well, not a ton of blowout games except playing against G5 competition. However, He has settled to be an explosive WR2 for his offense. Cowing is a slot specialist who’s put up insane career numbers. He’s looked comfortable playing the slot on the power 5 level, can’t wait to evaluate his footwork at the senior bowl this year. I think he could find a role as a special team contributor.

Johnny Wilson, FSU

  • 6’7″ / 237 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: X-Reciever
  • Projected DC: 6th-7th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 4.87
  • Player Comp: Collin Johnson

It’s rare to find a prospect this size, and he just isn’t a lethargic mover. Wilson is certainly not going to be an athletic freak, but his size makes him appealing for red zone or jump ball situations. I do think he’s too much of a body catcher at the NCAA level, which is weird for a guy who is 6’7″. Wilson’s size will be intriguing, and coaches will be interested in deploying him for specific plays/situations. Some teams might even try to convert him to TE.

Jamari Thrash, Louisville

Jamari Thrash, Louisville, Wide Receiver
Photo Courtesy of USA Today
  • 6’1″ / 185 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Possession
  • Projected DC: 6th-7th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 4.63
  • Player Comp: TBD

Another Jeff Brohm WR1 going to the draft; not one has made a meaningful impact yet, and unfortunately, I don’t think Thrash changes that. Similar to Xavier Weaver, there is some route running ability here, some crisp routes but also some rounded routes. Thrash is very weak in contested situations and soft as a runner, although he has good vision and attacks angles well. Thrash also does not offer anything special as an athlete. He really is a quality College WR, and if he was 20% more of an athlete, I would be far more interested.

Javon Baker, UCF

  • 6’1″ / 208 lbs.
  • 4th year
  • Role: Field Stretcher
  • Projected DC: 6th-7th
  • NFL Draft Grade: TBD
  • Player Comp: Quez Watkins

From Alabama to UCF, I’m not a fan of transfer downs when it comes to NFL draft talk. Baker has been an electric field stretcher who’s been the superior athlete compared to the defenses. His QB had the legs to extend the play to give Baker enough time to get deep.

Malik Washington, Virginia

  • 5’8″ / 194 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Field Stretcher / Special Teams
  • Projected DC: 6th-7th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 4.81
  • Player Comp: John Ursua

Washington’s production in Virginia has been insane. The Biletnikoff semi-finalist is used as a short-area manufactured touch player with occasional deep shots. I struggle to see the athleticism or any time of refinement. He has very reliable hands and wins more contested catches than he should. I don’t think he translates well to the NFL, but the production profile is hard to ignore.

Tahj Washington, USC

  • 5’10” / 175 lbs.
  • 5th year
  • Role: Field Stretcher / Special Teams
  • Projected DC: 6th-7th
  • NFL Draft Grade: 4.31
  • Player Comp: TBD

It took him five years, but he’s the WR1 at USC. I don’t think there’s anything special with Washington, but he’s been consistent, and reliable, and plays a specific role in a blue-blood offense. The NFL is going to care about the WR1 for Caleb Williams and the Trojans.

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