Welcome to a post to discuss some 2024 Rookie Wide Receiver Prospects.
The 2023 NFL Draft had some elite wide receiver prospects in Jaxon Smith-Njigba, Zay Flowers, Quentin Johnston, and Jordan Addison. The reports out of training camp for all of these guys have been overwhelmingly positive. All of them seem to have locked up significant roles in their respective offenses already, and we can’t wait to see these guys in action.
Even with the 2023 class getting so much hype right now, some people have already set their eyes on next season. I have heard the quote “the 2024 class is better” more than a few times already. Is it, though? Let’s dive in and examine the 2024 rookie wide receiver prospects.
Who’s up next? Well, let me say this…it’s early, and this was an extremely difficult list to make. There are so many wide receivers that I think have the potential to get drafted on day one or day two of the 2024 NFL Draft. This list will definitely change as the college football season rolls on, however, I am confident the top two on this list will be the first two guys selected in next year's draft, and they both happen to be Ohio State Buckeyes. Shocker!
2024 Rookie Wide Receiver Prospects
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5. Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas Longhorns
This Texas wide receiver is not the biggest target in the world standing at 5’11” and weighing only 160 lbs., but his abilities on the football field are worthy of some praise. His yards after the catch (YAC) ability is what sets his game apart from other wide receivers in the 2024 draft class.
Worthy, a former four-star recruit, has legitimate 4.29 (40-yard dash) speed allowing him to take the top off a defense and be a true vertical threat, but he also excels in the screen game due to his elusiveness. Texas utilizes him all over the field attempting to get him into open space where he can make a move and then outrun the defense to the end zone. Despite his smaller frame he sheds tackles well, and can still win those 50/50 contested catches down the field. Worthy is a very sharp and precise route runner and an extremely versatile wide receiver.
After a breakout 2021 season in which he put up 998 yards and 12 TDs on 63 receptions, he had what some consider a down sophomore campaign despite leading the Longhorns receivers. It’s worth noting that he did have a broken hand in 2022 which hampered his production a bit. Worthy still put up a respectable 760 yards and 9 TDs on 60 receptions last season.
At the NFL level, Worthy may struggle to win as consistently on the outside due to his size, but that won’t matter as he can still be dominant from the slot. He has zero fear when making tough catches over the middle of the field, and he absorbs contact well. Looking forward to seeing Worthy play for the Longhorns this fall.
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4. Rome Odunze, WR, Washington Huskies
This is a “my guy” pick right here, but Odunze just has all the right tools to succeed in the NFL. I am planting my flag right here that he will be a stud at the next level. Recruited as a four-star prospect out of high school by the Huskies, Odunze has all the physical traits to be a true No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL. He is listed at 6’3”, 200 lbs., runs a 4.5 40-yard dash and plays an explosive brand of football.
Odunze makes spectacular catches routinely with exceptional concentration and ball-tracking abilities. He can beat press coverage consistently utilizing his elusiveness or his physicality, and he uses his exceptional contact balance and vision to put up a lot of yards after the catch. Additionally, he can contribute in the running game with his solid blocking technique on the outside. Odunze is truly a complete wide receiver.
After an average season in 2021 in which Odunze put up 415 yards and 4 TDs on 41 receptions, he came back to put up a massive junior season with 1145 yards and 7 TDs on 75 catches.
Odunze has elected to play his senior season for the Huskies rather than head to the NFL, which is a little disappointing but understandable seeing as he has only one year of elite college production under his belt. He will still only be 22 as a rookie so I don’t think staying for a fourth college season will do anything but help him gain more attention from NFL scouts. If he puts up an even better 2023 season I would not be surprised to see him taken in the mid to late first-round range.
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3. Malik Nabers, WR, LSU Tigers
Number three on my 2024 NFL rookie wide receiver prospects list is Malik Nabers. The four-star recruit coming out of high school stands at 6’0” and 195 lbs., and I just love this kid's game. He runs a 4.4 40-yard dash so he has the speed to get behind a defense, and he is outstanding after the catch once the ball is in his hands.
I watched film of him going against Kelee Ringo last season, and he dusted him off the ball time and time again. He has a great release off the line, accelerates quickly, and is a sharp route runner. Nabers has great hands and focus when making difficult catches in traffic. He goes up with strong hands, catches away from his body, and can turn up the field quickly.
While he does have a great release he does have trouble creating consistent separation at times in his routes. I think this is more of an issue of him not understanding when to accelerate and when to gear down a bit, but with the way LSU develops pass catchers, I anticipate this aspect of his game greatly improving coming into 2023. He also needs a little work as a blocker downfield, but he has the size and strength to improve that aspect of his game as well.
Coming off a season in which he put up 1009 yards and 3 TDs on 72 receptions, I am looking forward to seeing an even bigger college football season for Nabers in 2023. In my opinion, his potential is sky-high if he continues to develop as a route runner.
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2. Emeka Egbuka, WR, Ohio State Buckeyes
The top two guys on this list were by far the easiest to rank, and I think it is pretty much consensus right now that Emeka Egbuka is the second-best wide receiver prospect for the 2024 NFL Draft.
Egbuka is 6’1” and 203 lbs. and his 40-yard dash time is listed as 4.42, so he has the size, speed, and strength to compete in the NFL. When I think of Egbuka I just think prototypical slot wide receiver, which in fantasy could translate to a lot of volume. He is not the type of player who is going to line up on the outside and take the top off a defense, but he has a very good feel for finding gaps in zone coverages and is very subtle in his manipulation of defensive backs. He is very good at adjusting his speed through his routes which allows him to create plenty of separation as well. He’s fun to watch just because of how smooth he is, and I think his high football IQ is apparent.
Egbuka was in a wide receiver room with Garrett Wilson, Chris Olave, Jaxon Smith-Njigba, and Marvin Harrison Jr. in 2021 so he did not see a ton of action as a freshman. In 2022, however, he had a major opportunity once Smith-Njigba went down with an unfortunate lower-body injury. He had 1151 yards and 10 TDs on 74 receptions, and he also proved himself capable as a run blocker downfield as well.
Egbuka will probably try to improve his route running by adding more “suddenness” to his game in 2023. He has not demonstrated to be as twitchy as some of the best route runners in the NFL, but with Brian Hartline coaching him I am expecting even more improvement this season.
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1. Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State Buckeyes
Marvin Harrison Jr. is the best wide receiver prospect since Calvin Johnson or Randy Moss and is the clear No. 1 on my 2024 NFL rookie wide receiver prospects list. The favorite non-QB to go first in the 2024 NFL Draft and son of former Indianapolis Colts legend Marvin Harrison, this young man is a special talent and everyone is awaiting his arrival in the NFL.
MHJ, a former four-star recruit, broke out in his sophomore season with the Buckeyes, amassing 1263 yards and 14 TDs on 77 receptions. He was a finalist for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the best college wide receiver (Jalin Hyatt ultimately won the award), won the 2022 Big Ten Richter-Howard Wide Receiver of the Year Award, and was also a unanimous All-American.
Despite getting most of the attention from opposing defenses Harrison Jr. was super productive. He has every elite trait you like to see in a wide receiver. 6’4” and 205lbs, 4.41 40-yard dash speed, an extreme athlete with big, strong hands. He can win both inside and outside, is a route-running savant, and accelerates off the line much better than other receivers his size. His body control, focus, and ball-tracking skills have allowed him to make some incredible catches on the sideline and in the endzone.
My favorite aspect of MHJ’s game is his competitiveness and his drive. A lot of receivers may take a play off or not take their blocking assignments seriously. Harrison Jr. seems to want to win at everything he does. He bullies defenders during his downfield blocking assignments, and when he makes a mistake he goes out the next time and corrects it.
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