It’s Mid-Season, time to revise the initial list, and re-evaluate. Take this article as more of a stock-up/down type of report. During this update, I will analyze metrics as well as production profiles and film. I will go into the top 15 and do a lightning round with a bit of a fun twist at the end. I will be  throwing in some background info:

  • Size – As listed on a school website
  • Age – Digging for DOBs, I will clearly mark some that are assumptions
  • Years removed from HS – This is how NFL Draft eligibility works; you need to be three years removed from high school to declare for the NFL draft
  • Weighted Dominator Ratings – I know there are a few advanced metrics that could be used, but I just wanted to show the readers how much of an offense each player accounted for and not overload the reader with a bunch of numbers.
  • Competition
    • Internal – I think it’s important to show those prospects that are hyperproductive while competing against other top NFL prospects. I do not consider players that have less than an early day three grade as internal competition, or true freshmen.
    • External – we all know Power 5 conferences (soon to be Power 4) have better defenses than the G5. Succeeding against SEC corners matters far more than succeeding against MAC corners.
  • Projections – this is my current assumed NFL draft grade. We have half of a season left, and things can change.

After doing a top 15, I will go through a lightning round of day three guys and add a section of prospects I think will go back to school.

Top 15 WRS in the 2024 NFL Draft

WR1 – Marvin Harrison Jr.

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.
Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports
Measurables

  • 6’4″ / 205 lbs. / 21.2 yrs
  • wDOM: 33.84%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Emeka Egbuka
    • External: Big Ten
  • Early Draft Projection: Early 1st
  • Role: Possession/Alpha

There’s not much more to say than what I said in pre-season. He does it all: a great route runner and a great athlete. This year he is much weaker at the catch point this year and struggling with drops of late. Harrison is also not winning at the catch point the way he was last year. He’s improved on his YAC ability, and I largely believe this is due to different usage/play calling given the limitation of their QB Kyle Cord compared to having CJ Stroud. None of the stuff I’ve seen this year concerns his profile, given what we saw last year. This is not a behavior pattern, just a phase. I still believe he’s closer to 6’2″ than he is 6’4″; that question will be answered at the NFL draft. I find it a plus, given his skillset.

WR2 – Xavier Worthy

Texas Longhorns: WR Xavier Worthy played with broken hand in '22
Photo from Randolf Gonzales / Associated Press
Measurables
  • 6’1″ / 172 lbs. / 20.4yrs
  • wDOM: 25.54%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: AD Mitchell
    • External: Big12
  • Early Draft Projection: Mid 1st
  • Role: Field Stretcher / Possession

My analysis of Worthy hasn’t changed. However, I have changed my grade on him because I have decided to care less about his drops issues. He is the best field stretcher in the class but also offers route running ability. Drops will forever be a part of Worthy’s resume, and at this point, I think that it will stay for a while. He talks about player skillset and how having multiple skills is a true versatile chess piece.

WR3 – Emeka Egbuka

Ohio State Football: Emeka Egbuka has insane one-handed catch
Photo Courtesy of Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Measurables
  • 6’1″ / 206 lbs. / 21.0yrs
  • wDOM: 17.73%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Marvin Harrison Jr.
    • External: Big Ten
  • Early Draft Projection: Mid-Late 1st Round
  • Role: Possession / Gadget

Emeka is a good route runner himself, but with an emphasis on YAC ability.  Emeka is a great mover in his routes and at the line. He does have limitations as an athlete, and that cap his upside and usage at the next level. He’ll be one of the best YAC skill sets, coming in with a 6.4 YAC and a 6.9 YAC over his last two seasons. Egbuka is also used as a gadget player, with 15 rushing attempts over the last two seasons. He’s a specialist in the short and intermediate areas of the field, not often seen working downfield. The athletic limitations that he can’t be used downfield will limit him, but should operate as a possession style, which is just fine for fantasy purposes. I am concerned that Egbuka will need to be paired with a WR with a specialty in downfield work in order to keep the space up where he can operate. He may need to rely on getting drafted to a team with a creative play caller.

WR4 – Malik Nabers

Malik Nabers - LSU Tigers wide receiver - ESPN
Photo Courtesy of ESPN
Measurables

  • 6’0″ / 200 lbs. / 20.2 years
  • wDOM: 35.63%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Brian Thomas
    • External: SEC
  • Early Draft Projection: Mid-1st – Top 50
  • Role: Possession

The NEXT LSU wide receiver is Nabers. He’s a high IQ type of player with a decent blend of athleticism. He easily destroys zone coverage, which feels like that more on the game plan than the player. Nabers is a decent route runner, and he is excellent at using deception with controlling speed to gain separation. He also possesses a full route tree. This issue watching him is that it’s hard to pinpoint what his calling card is. I believe he is in the realm of very good at everything but master of nothing. It’s hard even to pinpoint a weakness in Nabers’ game without nitpicking. I would be more worried about these points if he wasn’t constantly winning against the best defenses in the NCAA. He’s a rock-solid option. 

WR5 – Rome Odunze

Rome Odunze is returning to Washington in 2023 — and that's no joke - The  Athletic
Photo Courtesy of Christian Caple / The Athletic
Measurables

  • 6’3″ / 215 lbs. / 21.3 yrs
  • wDOM: 28.82%
  • 4th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Jalen McMillan, Ja’Lynn Polk
    • External: PAC-12
  • Early Draft Projection: Top 50

Odunze has grown on me. He is a very good mover for a player his height and has an understanding of using double moves and creating separation. Out of the top five WRs, he has the best hands at the catch point this year and the most consistent in contested situations. He has great footwork, too, and is an excellent athlete. He still plays against inferior defenses and plays within a superior offensive scheme, but the tools and traits are there. His YAC ability after the catch is very average on an NFL scale. He’s not a very physical player, given his size; not soft, just not aggressive.

WR6 – Keon Coleman

Photo Credit: Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
Measurables
  • 6’4″ / 215 lbs. / 20.4 years
  • wDOM: 29.37%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Johnny Wilson
    • External: ACC
  • Early Draft Projection: 2nd Round
  • Role: Alpha

Coleman is a tough eval for me. He’s a great mover at 6’4″,  doesn’t get hit off his routes, but weak at the catch point. On the season so far, he’s 5/17 on contested targets. FSU QB Jordan Travis is not a good thrower and struggles with arm strength and ball placement, but some of these attempts I’d expect Coleman to hold onto. He’s such a good bully in other aspects of his game that being soft at the catch point is confusing to me. Coleman generally has great hands and numerous one-handed catches on tape. he showcases some slight subtle moves that manipulate defenders’ efforts to give him space to get deep. The production profile has serious holes outside of his ability at the catch point and was game-scripted out in a few games. There’s plenty of time left in the season, along with some tough matchups ahead.

WR7 – Devontez Walker

Photo Courtesy of Reinhold Matay/AP
Measurables
  • 6’2.5 / 200 / 22.3yrs
  • wDOM: 28.15% (games played)
  • 5th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: ACC
  • Early Draft Projection: Late 2nd – 3rd
  • Role: Alpha / Field Stretcher

Walker finally got his waiver to play, and it took two weeks to look like the star we thought he was. He has legit high-end NFL speed. There is nothing special about his footwork or his routes. He’s not a manipulator and does much better against zone coverage, where he can get the ball in space to punish defenses with his speed. Walker has solid hands, strong at the catch point. He can be physical as a YAC threat, but I would say that’s really a part of his playstyle

WR8 – Troy Franklin

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is 7a763a40f5e946b396464da22b3262f9.jpg
Photo Courtesy of Andy Nelson | The Register-Guard
Measurables

  • 6’3″ / 178 lbs. / 20.7yrs
  • wDOM: 36.12%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: PAC-12
  • Early Draft Projection: Late 2nd – 3rd
  • Role: Field Stretcher

Revising Franklin, and my eval hasn’t really changed. He’s a straight-line runner, and he’s not good at the physical game. The only deception he uses is slow-gos, which is fine. He has a role in the NFL, but I have a hard time seeing him become a future WR1 for an NFL offense and not a rotational player with a limited skill set. Franklin’s ball tracking has greatly improved over the years. Sometimes, I help my evals by finding playstyle comps. I reviewed DJ Chark and Dyami Brown, but with the help of Barnabas Lee, I’ve settled on a ceiling comp of Terrance Williams, but with less dynamism after the catch.  Franklin is a fine X. He’s an NFL-level athlete. He’s nothing special at the catch point; his route tree is very limited, and he won’t win the physical game that is typically played with bigger WRs. I don’t believe the ceiling is that high, but I believe he’ll be a rotational piece in a worst-case scenario. 

WR9 – Jalen McMillan

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
Measurables

  • 6’1″ /192 lbs. / 21.9yrs
  • wDOM: 23.9%
  • 4th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk
    • External: Pac-12
  • Early Draft Projection: Late 2nd – 3rd
  • Role: Possession

McMillan has only played three full games this year and has fallen within Odunze’s shadow, but he certainly has a role in the NFL. McMillan has a great build to become a route runner and showcases good start/stop ability. He excels against zone coverage and knows how to find a soft spot. He’s still not good at adjusting to poorly thrown balls; as a YAC threat, he doesn’t survive first contact often. McMillan has a very well-rounded skill set. 

WR10 – Elijhah Badger

Photo Courtesy of D. Ross Cameron-USA TODAY Sports
Measurables

  • 6’2″ /190 lbs. / 21.Xyrs
  • wDOM: 28.43%
  • 4th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: Pac-12
  • Early Draft Projection: 3rd
  • Role: Flanker / Gadget

Badger has a complex early history but has been great down the stretch. He is one of the better short-area YAC threats in this class. Badger is not much of a route runner or lacks the ability to work deep. He specializes in a flanker role and will be more intriguing if he lands with a creative play caller. 

WR11 – Roman Wilson

Vrbo Fiesta Bowl - Michigan v TCU
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images
  • 6’0″ /192 lbs. / 22.3yrs
  • wDOM: 30.78%%
  • 4th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: Big Ten
  • Early Draft Projection: 3rd
  • Role: Possession

Michigan hasn’t really played anyone yet, but Wilson has been making a name for himself as a reliable slot option with excellent hands. He was a high-level verified athlete as a true freshman, beat the Y1Z theory, and has been relatively quiet ever since. we will get a better idea of his footwork at the senior bowl, but now he should be on radars as a potential late-day 2 pick

WR12 – Brian Thomas 

Brian Thomas Jr., LSU, Wide Receiver
Photo from David Rosenblum / Icon Sportswire, Getty
  • 6’4″ / 205 lbs. / 21.0yrs
  • wDOM: 28.94%
  • 3rd year
  • Competition
    • Internal: Malik Nabers
    • External: SEC
  • Early Draft Projection: 3rd
  • Role: Field Stretcher

Thomas was misused his first two seasons at LSU as a big possession WR and has found his calling card as a field stretch. Paired with a QB that can extend plays, Thomas’s size/speed combo becomes a big play waiting to happen. His release off the line is not special, either. Thomas is more of a guy who moves around defenders rather than manipulates them, so his skillset becomes one-dimensional. His route tree is undeveloped, with a lack of inside work.

WR13 – Malachi Corley

Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley
Photo Courtesy of AP Photo/Matthew Hinton
Measurables 
  • 5’11” / 210lbs. / 22.Xyrs
  • wDOM: 31.59%
  • 4th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: CUSA
  • Early Draft Projection: 3rd – 4th
  • Role: Gadget

Similar to Badger, Corley has been a phenomenal YAC threat in the G5 playing for WKU. His running style is far more reminiscent of a running back than a wide receiver. He runs with power and violence rather than a make-you-miss mentality. He is my favorite prospect coming out of the G5 conferences. I haven’t been impressed with his footwork or route-running ability; those questions will be answered during the Senior Bowl.

WR14 – Jamari Thrash

Photo Courtesy of USA Today Sports
Measurables 
  • 6’1″ / 185lbs. / 22.8yrs
  • wDOM: 34.13%
  • 5th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: ACC
  • Early Draft Projection:  Late 3rd – 4th
  • Role: Possession

The next Jeff Brohm product, reliable for a good draft cap, has not translated well to the NFL. Thrash was a G5 to P5 transfer and has struggled with his move-up. He struggles at the catch point and still making adjustments to play strength. He’s a fine mover in space with a fine route tree. As far as athleticism goes, I wish Thrash was faster. He’s smart with the ball and knows how to attack leverage. he feels like a safe bet for a late-rounder

WR15 – Ricky Pearsall

UF football: Transfer Ricky Pearsall catching on quick with Gators
Photo courtesy of Kevin Brockway / Gator Sports
Measurables 
  • 6’1″ /192 lbs. / 22.9yrs
  • wDOM: 30.76%
  • 5th year
  • Competition
    • Internal: None
    • External: SEC
  • Early Draft Projection: Late 3rd – 4th
  • Role: Possession

Pearsall might be one of the best pure slots heading into the draft, and I’m sure there will be plenty of Patriot jokes about him. Pearsall has some of the best hands in this class. He is quick off the line and gritty as a runner with the ball. He is not your jump ball specialist or field stretcher, but he will be a fine player in the slot. 

Lightning Round

I typically go 15 deep, the average number of wide receiver prospects drafted between the first two days of the NFL draft. I am uncertain about this wide receiver group; there’s a lack of separators in this class and an abundance of big guys coming out. I really don’t think this is a good WR class, and I’ve made about 35 pros/con charts mentally for tons of players. Let’s do a lightning projection round with a pessimistic twist, and I’ll give a line or two about why I don’t see a high ceiling. 

Xavier Weaver, Colorado – A guy I can honestly say I never considered until watching him at Colorado. He is a good mover; I think he can run a full route tree. Colorado runs a very superior offensive scheme, So I haven’t watched enough to determine a player from the scheme. I am very intrigued. He is a clear stock-up since pre-season, and I believe his real value will be determined at the Senior Bowl. Projection: 3rd-5th

BERKELEY, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 25: Jeremiah Hunter #3 of the California Golden Bears celebrates after catching a 45-yard touchdown pass against the UCLA Bruins during the second quarter of an NCAA football game at California Memorial Stadium on November 25, 2022 in Berkeley, California. (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Jeremiah Hunter, Cal – Hunter has been the backbone of the poor Cal offense for two seasons now. He can work inside and outside. He contested catch ability with a decent ability to separate. He’s another prospect who’s value will be determined at the Senior Bowl. Projection: Late 3rd – 5th

Xavier Restrepo, Miami – A slot-only WR that has been the epitome of reliable the last three seasons. His major fault is can’t stay healthy. This will be his first fully healthy if he can complete the season. So far, Restrepo has been a safety blanket for QB TVD and the reliable option. Projection: 5th-6th

Brendan Rice, USC – He has played well this year so far, but there still isn’t anything special to his game. He does have very good speed for his size, and he is Jerry Rice’s son. Projection: 5th – 6th

Ladd McConkey, Georgia – Banged up this year but working his way back into the lineup, McConkley’s a gadgety WR with some athleticism. Gadgety players are always fun, but the only two with fantasy success at the next level in recent memory are Deebo and Curtis Samuel. If Ladd’s last name were Samuel, I’d make an exception (joking). Projection: 5th-6th

Xavier Legette, South Carolina – Legette has erupted onto the college football scene with the injury to Atwane Wells. Unfortunately, he is doing this as a fifth-year product with a lackluster production profile. His footwork is sloppy. There is nothing Legette does in his route or at the line that is impressive. He’s got some nice build-up speed and is hard to bring down after the catch. He will need to be scheme touches to get value out of him at the next level. Projection: 5th-6th

Johnny Wilson, Florida State – He did not beat the Year 1 Zero theory. In 2022, Wilson had big games against Louisville, Georgia Tech, and a bowl game-depleted Oklahoma. He’s huge, but his body catches and does not attack the ball with his hands. He’s certainly no separator, but he’s not a lethargic mover, either. Wilson is a fine straight-line athlete, but he should’ve converted to TE as a freshman. 247Sports came to the comp of Collin Johnson, and I think that’s spot on. Coleman hasn’t taken the spotlight and operating in the way Wilson should be used as well. Projection: 5th-6th

Will Sheppard, Vanderbilt – He’s another big man who’s a jump ball specialist. Projection: 5th-6th

Jalil Farooq, Oklahoma- He’s a short-area YAC specialist. Farooq is a very unrefined technician, and I don’t believe he’s going to find that development at this point in this collegiate career. Projection: 5th-7th

Tory Horton, CSU – The most productive G5 wide receiver of the season. I find him to be a stiff mover and a lot of wasted movement at the steam of his routes. I have trouble identifying what he does well, but his production is undeniable. Projection: 5th-7th

Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington – He’s been an excellent fill-in for when Odunze or McMillan goes down. His playstyle is not translatable to the NFL. Polk is an average build WR who struggles to separate but excels in the contested target. he boasts some excellent hands and ball-tracking ability. The athleticism and refinement are not there. Projection: 6th-7th

Jacob Cowing, Arizona – Why did he not declare last year? He went from G5 to P5 and still produced. Cowing is a slot-only type, but last year, I thought he exceeded expectations and received a late Day 2 grade for me. I’m reading the tea leaves and know I’m missing something. I’m never thrilled about fifth-year G5 prospects. Projection: 6th-7th

Jahmal Banks, Wake Forest – He’s going to take over that productive AT Perry role. They have a ton of similarities, but I’m not personally confident he’s even better than AT Perry, who went in the sixth. Projection: 6th-7th

Malik Washington on Pace to Put Up Historic Receiving Numbers at Virginia -  Sports Illustrated Virginia Cavaliers News, Analysis and More

Malik Washington, UVA – Malik Washington has been the backbone of Virginia’s receiving core. The lack of NFL traits leaves little to be desired, and he’s benefitted from an easy schedule. Projection: 6th-7th

Jermaine Burton, Georgia – He’s an athlete, with no finesse. He is very raw and entering his fourth year. Burton is going to show up to the combine, perform well, and get drafted solely for his performance there. Projection: 6th-UDFA

Tahj Washington, USC – The current leading receiver in this room knows how to get deep. I think he has a role on special teams but there really isn’t much else here. Projection: 7th – UDFA

Keep the Faith

I left out some hot names, at this point, I believe they’ll be going back to school. This list will be a combination of younger guys with NFL tools who just need more time to put it together. They could be suffering from a changing offensive system, or just bad QB play. Maybe the offensive line can’t give the QB time to make a throw. The point is to keep the faith. I’m not out permanently, I just don’t think this year is their year.

Adonai Mitchell, Texas, Wide Receiver
Photo Courtesy of Tim Warner / Getty

Adonai Mitchell, Texas – AD Mitchell has all the tools to be a 1st round WR, but he lacks refinement and consistency. I do believe some of the issues could come from his QB. If he entered the 2024 draft at this rate, I would put him as a third-round grade, but he may go back to become the lead WR with a more experienced QB in Quinn Ewers.

Malik Benson, Alabama – Bama’s passing offense has been non-existent the last two seasons. Bama will probably do everything in their power to get a QB next season. Benson has the traits that Saban usually develops, he is a rotational starting WR for them. Let’s see if they could look like the Bama of old next season.

J. Michael Sturdivant, UCLA – Sturdivant is a size/speed specimen of a prospect. He’s playing with a struggling true freshman. His market share numbers have been fine, but overall, that production profile is non-existent. Give this system another year to develop some chemistry.

Antwane Wells, South Carolina – Wells has been hurt all year, and I’m not going to pretend I know what’s going on. If he doesn’t touch the field and goes nuclear the last half of the season, then he’s coming back, and he will be six years removed from High school, which is very undesirable.

 

 

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