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2024 NFL Draft: 16 Wide Receiver Prospects to Watch

2024 NFL Draft: 16 Wide Receiver Prospects to Watch

With the college football season approaching, it’s time to take a deeper look at some of the top NFL Draft-eligible players at each position. This will help us assemble an early list of prospects to watch this fall.

Below are 12 Draft-eligible wide receivers who I’ll be keeping an eye on this coming season.

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2024 NFL Draft: Wide Receiver Prospects to Watch

Jacob Cowing (Arizona)

After back-to-back seasons with over 1,000 yards between UTEP and Arizona, it was somewhat surprising that Cowing decided to return to school, as he’s a polished receiver prospect with impressive quickness and route-running chops out of the slot and who ran a higher rate of intermediate and deep routes than is usual for a slot. Although he lacks elite speed, he can create opportunities downfield off of double moves. Without much left to prove at the college level, staying healthy and putting together another solid season could earn him a selection in the third round or so as a relatively pro-ready prospect with a clear role at the next level.

Emeka Egbuka (Ohio State)

The seemingly endless procession of high-end Buckeyes receiver prospects continues. Egbuka emerged as a top receiver prospect last season, with a 74-1,151-10 line, primarily as a replacement for injured 2023 first-rounder Jaxon Smith-Njigba. Just over two-thirds of his routes came out of the slot, where he showed smooth acceleration and the route-running savvy to attack an opponent’s leverage and use speed changes to uncover. He shows the hip sink and agility to uncover on the underneath routes he typically ran last year but has the speed to threaten deep as well.

Troy Franklin (Oregon)

With a tall, skinny frame at 6’3″, 178 pounds, Franklin looked dominant at times last season, making major strides over his freshman campaign and significantly reducing his drop rate. He can take snaps both inside and outside and offers an impressive radius with good awareness and footwork when working near the boundary. His size and focus allowed him to come down with contested catches, and he has enough explosiveness to uncover downfield, tracking the ball well. Adding strength to his frame and producing more consistently should be his next priorities.

Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State)

The consensus top wide receiver prospect heading into the draft, Harrison has the type of well-rounded game you’d expect, given who his father is. He’s got a big frame, shows suddenness and polish with his releases at the line, can deal with physicality, gets good hip sink at the route stem, and has the flexibility and catch radius to adjust to balls thrown away from his frame or win contested catches. He racked up a 77-1,263-14 line last year without dropping a pass until Week 13.

Jalen McMillan (Washington)

McMillan operated almost exclusively from the slot last season, ending up with an outstanding line of 79-1,098-9 as a safety valve underneath for Michael Penix. He’s not quite as big, fast, or flexible as some of the other receivers in the class, but he has a strong build to stay on track through contact and is able to identify and settle into soft spots in zone coverage to create easy completions for his quarterback. He runs hard after the catch and was able to break some tackles and grind out tough yardage to move the chains. Cutting down on focus drops will be one area to focus on in 2023.

Adonai Mitchell (Texas)

One of the receivers with the most to prove this year, Mitchell transferred from Georgia after an ankle injury limited him to just nine catches over six appearances. The former four-star recruit stands 6’4″ and has flashed the ability to make highlight-reel grabs, showing impressive flexibility and body control. With the concentration to come down with catches in traffic, Mitchell doesn’t need to be wide-open, but it would be nice to see him do a better job of stacking defenders when working down the sidelines, presenting bigger windows for his quarterback.

2023 Fantasy Football Best Ball Draft Advice

Malik Nabers (LSU)

With his teammate Kayshon Boutte struggling last year, Nabers picked up the slack, finishing with 72-1,017-3 in a season that saw him take over 40 percent of his snaps out of the slot. He’s sudden at the line of scrimmage, with nice snap at the route stem to create windows for his quarterback. Playing with a conservative quarterback in Jayden Daniels, he still managed to break some big plays with the ball in his hands, with an impressive combination of quickness, strength, and contact balance. Look for the Tigers to make scheming the ball into his hands a priority this season.

Rome Odunze (Washington)

Odunze looked destined for a Day 2 selection before deciding to return to school following his 75-1,145-7 line last season. The big-bodied receiver cut down significantly on his drops and showed the ability to beat defenders downfield in what was a pretty aggressive offensive attack, primarily by relying on double moves and nuance. He presents a big target with a wide radius and the flexibility to make adjustments as needed. Surprisingly, Odunze caught just a quarter of his contested catches, so that will be something for him to work on this season.

Dorian Singer (USC)

The Trojans’ primary slot receiver, Mario Williams, is another notable receiver, but Singer was the more productive of the two last season, racking up 66-1,105-6, albeit while playing for the University of Arizona. Like Williams and 2023 first-rounder Jordan Addison, Singer can play both inside and outside, creating separation at the line of scrimmage with suddenness and explosiveness. Despite dropping six passes in 2022, Singer made some incredible catches on throws away from his frame, plucking high passes and selling out for throws away from his body. It’ll be fun to see what he can do with Caleb Williams.

Antwane “Juice” Wells Jr. (South Carolina)

After spending two seasons at James Madison, Wells transferred to South Carolina and continued to produce, catching 75 percent of his targets for an impressive 69-941-6 line. He’s a thickly-built receiver who can play both inside and outside, offering a very reliable pair of hands. He’s capable of working comebacks and back-shoulder throws down the sidelines or coming over the middle of the field at different levels, using his lower-body strength and contact balance to break tackles and hit home runs after the catch. Look for Spencer Rattler to lean on him even more heavily this season.

Johnny Wilson (Florida State)

Receivers don’t come as big as Wilson, who, at 6’7″, 235 pounds, has unparalleled size. He caught just 43 passes last year but totaled 897 yards on them, averaging just under 21 yards per catch on the year in his first season with the Seminoles. Much of his production came in the team’s Bowl against Oklahoma and in an early-season matchup at Louisville, and he struggled with drops, so showing consistency this season will be vital. Surprisingly, he didn’t dominate in contested-catch situations last year, but is a veritable battering ram, bullying defensive backs with the ball in his hands.

Xavier Worthy (Texas)

Worthy has been used differently in each of his first two seasons, operating as a dynamic weapon after the catch as a freshman and then running mostly deeper routes last season. He shows very impressive speed and flexibility; when he finds a crease or beats a defender with his release at the line, he’s capable of hitting home runs. Last season, Quinn Ewers’ struggles with processing and placement limited his production, but with a return to form in 2023 and some additional weight on his frame during the pre-draft process, he could end up being one of the top receiver prospects.

Honorable mention: Ja’Corey Brooks (Alabama), De’Corian Clark (UTSA), Oronde Gadsden II (Syracuse), Mario Williams (USC)

Notice any prospects I missed? Feel free to let me know on Twitter @draftexaminer!

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