The NFL’s transformation into a passing league has turned wideouts into prized commodities on the draft board. Team builders are more committed to using top picks to acquire blue-chip pass catchers with the potential to develop into a No. 1 receiver. 

Since 2020, 21 receivers have been selected in the first round of the NFL Draft, with at least four receivers selected in Round 1 in each draft class. Though the results have been mixed due to the scattershot performances of players like Jalen Reagor, Kadarius Toney and Treylon Burks, coaches are hoping to find the next Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase or Garrett Wilson when selecting a pass catcher at the top of the draft. 

This season, the odds of landing a blue-chip wide receiver are in the team’s favor, with Marvin Harrison Jr., Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers vying for the WR1 spot. Each trio member is viewed as a “can’t-miss” prospect with a comprehensive set of elite traits that enable them to anchor a passing game. 

MARVIN HARRISON JR.

Harrison Jr. has been celebrated as the undisputed No. 1 receiver in the 2024 class for the past two years due to a rare combination of size, speed, and skill. The Ohio State standout is a natural “Z” receiver with the tools to win consistently from anywhere in a formation. Whether posted up out wide or positioned in the slot, Harrison has a knack for creating space utilizing his superior talent or flawless technique to lose defenders at the top of routes. 

Measuring 6-foot-4, 205 pounds with a long stride, Harrison glides past opponents on vertical routes. Though he displays exceptional balance and body control, executing stutter-and-go maneuvers within his route, the ultra-talented junior can win utilizing “vanilla” routes built on polished footwork and fundamentals. 

If Harrison cannot win with finesse, he possesses the size, strength, and ball skills to wrestle “50-50” balls away from defenders at the catch point. Considering how many teams like to throw the ball up to super-sized receivers in the red zone, Harrison’s superior physical, dimensional and exceptional hand-eye coordination make it nearly impossible to defend him in the scoring zone. With a pair of 1,200-yard seasons and 31 career touchdowns on his resume, the star is a dominant playmaker on the perimeter with “take over the game” potential. 

Is Marvin Harrison Jr. truly the best WR in the NFL Draft?

ROME ODUNZE

Odunze has created quite the buzz in the scouting community after posting back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons at Washington. The 6-foot-3, 215-pounder flourished as the Huskies’ No. 1 receiver, exhibiting outstanding hands, ball skills, and playmaking potential as the focal point of a vertical passing game that taxed opponents with the deep ball. 

Though Odunze excelled at running past defenders on go-routes and deep overs, the junior is a crafty route runner with exceptional balance, body control, and stop-start quickness. He routinely wins against tight coverage, utilizing his superior size and strength to create space and win “50-50” balls down the field. 

Odunze’s running skills and punt returner background show up when the veteran receiver touches the ball in space. The Washington product runs through arm tackles in traffic, leading to big plays on “catch-and-run” concepts over the middle of the field. As a versatile receiver able to align anywhere within the formation, Odunze projects as a “Z” (flanker) with some slot receiver potential at the next level. 

Considering how many teams are successfully utilizing “big” slot receivers, Odunze’s experience and versatility make him an intriguing offensive weapon for a creative offensive coordinator with a vivid imagination. 

Rome Odunze, Malik Nabers among Klatt’s top pass catchers in 2024 NFL Draft

MALIK NABERS

Nabers deserves a spot atop the charts after finishing his career as LSU’s all-time leader in receiving yards (3,003) in just three seasons. The 6-foot, 200-pound playmaking specialist is a dynamic weapon with unique traits as a pass catcher. Nabers’ combination of speed, quickness and burst frequently ties defenders in knots, but his extraordinary hands and ball skills separate him from the packet. 

Nabers makes circus catches look routine, exhibiting outstanding tracking skills and hand-eye coordination. The junior’s ability to adapt and adjust to errant passes expands the strike zone for quarterbacks, particularly in the red zone, with back-shoulder fades featured prominently on the menu. 

Although Nabers’ touchdown totals did not surge until the 2023 season (he finished with 14 scores after tallying seven over his first two seasons), he flashes touchdown machine potential as a red-zone threat. In addition, his underrated running skills make him nearly impossible to neutralize when a play-caller is committed to getting him a touch on the perimeter. Nabers’ quickness, elusiveness and burst enables him to turn short passes into big plays in the open field. 

With coaches increasingly looking for “YAC” specialists on the perimeter, Nabers’ playmaking potential will draw rave reviews in pre-draft meetings. As a natural slot receiver with out-wide capabilities, Nabers’ running skills and superb route-running ability will create problems for opponents attempting to limit his touches. The LSU standout is a tough 1-on-1 matchup for any defender. 

Marvin Harrison Jr., Brock Bowers among Klatt’s top pass catchers in 2024 NFL Draft

CONCLUSION

Given how WR1s are expected to dominate the perimeter, it is easy to envision each pass catcher enjoying immediate success at the next level. Though the quarterback and play-caller will significantly impact their production, the combination of physical traits and polished skills should enable Harrison, Odunze, and Nabers to dominate from Day 1. 

If I had to pick one of the trio to anchor my passing game for the next decade, I would opt for Odunze to fill the WR1 role. The Washington star’s size, speed, and ball skills make him an easy playmaker to feature in a game plan. Odunze is also comfortable playing any position on the perimeter, providing a creative offensive coordinator with plenty of play design options. 

Although Harrison, Jr., and Nabers are also scheme-friendly fits, there is something about Odunze’s game that reminds me of Ja’Marr Chase dominating AFC foes. Considering how the Bengals‘ star earned an Offensive Rookie of the Year award spectacularly, I can envision Odunze vying for top honors as an unstoppable playmaker on the perimeter. 

Bucky Brooks is an NFL analyst for FOX Sports. He also breaks down the game for NFL Network and as a cohost of the “Moving the Sticks” podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BuckyBrooks.


Get more from National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more




Source link


administrator