June 13, 2024

2024 NFL Draft: Top Wide Receivers Part 1

9 min read
Who are the tight ends to know about in the 2024 NFL Draft? @CodyFolden breaks it down with the first part of his top ten list.

2024 WR Prospects Part 1

By: Cody Folden

 

We have finally seen the ending of the 2023/2024 NFL script. The Chiefs have won the Super Bowl and now dynasty season truly begins. I will be ranking the top 10 of each position. It breaks down from 10 to 1, into two articles from 10 to 6, and 5 to 1.

 Film breakdowns and testing will factor in. But, as of now, this specific article is for BEFORE the scouting combine. We will release new and updated articles after the combine and the draft. These other two major events will tell us a lot of information.

This wide receiver class is deep. Like others doing rookie spotlights, there are arguments for many guys. We have some elite prospects we will get to in part 2, and we have some guys that will be good in this one. It is very interesting to see how many teammates will be on this list. 

I would expect about 20 to 25 wide receivers to go in this draft. Therefore, I assume this will be the top 10 list with the most movement, especially around the 9 and 10 spots. Before then, you could argue the order of the top 8 but I will assume they are the top 8 regardless. 

With that let’s start the list off with number 10:

 

#10 – Jalen McMillan (Washington)

 

 

 

This will be the controversial one. Based on some senior bowl highlights and other stats, to me, right now, Jalen McMillan gets the nod over his teammate Ja’Lynn Polk and the Florida receiver Ricky Pearsall. In his 4 years at Washington, he accrued 164 receptions, 2143 yards, and 17 touchdowns.

McMillan may be a little slight at 6 foot 1 and 185 pounds. However, this doesn’t affect him as much as it should. He has a problem in contested catch situations. If the defender is bigger than him, he will be pushed off his route. He also has a problem tracking the ball in this situation.

However, what he does well is he doesn’t put himself in many contested catch situations. This is based on the style of wide receiver he is. His versatility is going to get him drafted higher than people expect. He is one of the only wide receivers in this draft who can play the outside, slot, or motion receiver, and do them all well.

Jalen has a problem tracking the ball with the defenders on him. However, he uses his explosiveness and his naturally gifted hands. He thrives. McMillan is fluid at the run after the catch. He has phenomenal spatial awareness that makes up for some of his route-running flaws. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bhbofkXee4U

His route tree is diverse. I would like to see his footwork get a little better. He has a problem stopping and planting his foot on routes that need that (ie. Crossing and Comeback routes). I would have a tough time going into the late second round not taking him in the draft. 

Yet, that’s why I am writing fantasy articles and not in the situation rooms for the draft. I will be excited to see the Washington Pro Day for many reasons and the scouting combine to see how Jalen McMillan tests. 

 

At number 9: 

#9 – Ladd McConkey (Georgia)

 

 

McConkey is one of the senior bowl participants that helped his stock. Although, after watching his tape, we should have seen him coming. I would assume that Georgia being the juggernaut they were probably hurt that for Ladd. They did not have as many nationally televised games. 

At 6 foot 185 pounds, he has a lot of the same issues as Jalen McMillan. His career stats at Georgia are 119 receptions, 1687 yards, and 14 touchdowns. He also had 216 rushing yards with 4 touchdowns. 

Bigger defensive backs and his size can be a problem where if McConkey doesn’t beat the defender, he gets off track. Defensive backs often can knock him off his routes and take him out of a play. Ladd is a vertical threat however, he has great footwork and can vary his speed to create separation. 

His short area quickness gets him open in those slant routes and the vertical route. His route running is great for short yardage and the long ball. Where he needs to improve are the intermediate routes. He will need to learn how to sit down in zone and win over the middle of the field to succeed. 

McConkey is getting hype right now and he should be. I believe he will test well at the combine. If he does, I would not be surprised to see him going in the late first or early second round. Every team needs playmakers and wide receivers are the hot commodity. A team is going to fall in love with him. He will be one of the first 10 wide receivers drafted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhhdedLEL3U

 

Here comes the arguments. As I said above, the next 8 receivers (3 in this article), can be argued in and will. Let’s start it off with number 8: 

 

 

#8 Keon Coleman (Florida State)

 

 

Keon Coleman is the first one on this list that has the size 6 foot 4 and 210 pounds. He has the prototypical wide receiver build. A transfer, he spent 2 years at Michigan State before coming to Florida State. He put up solid career numbers. With 115 receptions, 506 yards, and 19 touchdowns. Coleman was productive and consistent in two different conferences.

Coleman is a different receiver than the other two already listed. His pros come with cons and vice versa. He does a lot of things well but with some improvement could propel him to the top of the list. Let’s start with the contested catches.

He is very good in these situations. He reacts, creates, and tracks the ball well to create catches. While he has good body control in these situations, the lower half of Keon gives him some problems.

I question his flexibility and footwork regarding this. He has great acceleration. Yet, when he needs to cut across the field or in motion, it seems his hips fail him. He becomes a slip, trips, and falls montage.  While he is a yards-after-catch (YAC) monster, he doesn’t have the breakaway speed that scouts would love to see. Keon Coleman is the classic, needs to get his core to NFL ready. He needs to train and get flexibility in his hips to truly be elite at the next level. He is explosive now. Just think what he could do if he refines his body.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1UmROLQKSE0

Another concern is his route running. While his tree being limited hurts him, I believe he can run any route effectively if he wants to. I don’t like to see him round off his routes, especially on the 7-yard in or out routes. He doesn’t (yet) show enough moves or explosiveness to beat an NFL defender in those routes. He needs to plant and set first. 

Cleaning up the route running will not only help his draft stock, but his entire NFL career. Defensive backs are only getting faster, stronger, and more physical. Knowing the route you need to run before the defender is the obvious, and most of the time, forgotten way to beat a defender. Use that advantage to your advantage and win. 

Keon Coleman is again one of those receivers on the fringe of the first round but could fall to the fourth round. It all depends on how the media takes it. If he interviews and tests well at Florida State Pro Day and at the scouting combine, expect him to be drafted early.

Coming in at number 7:

 

#7 – Adonai Mitchell (Texas)

 

 

Mitchell is an interesting prospect. He is 6 foot 4 and 200 pounds. He spent his first two years of college at Georgia. He transferred and spent his last year at Texas. His career numbers were 93 receptions 1405 yards and 18 touchdowns. Adonai has the build of the wide receiver you want with the speed to go with it. 

When you watch Adonai’s tape you fall in love. One of the things I like most about Mitchell is his twitchiness. He is a good route runner and has what I will call happy feet. His feet are always moving and he has some of the best coordination. 

While on the ground or in the air he is coordinated to always know where his body is and adjust if he needs to. With this though, he sometimes has a tough time tracking the ball. Especially on the vertical routes. 

Sometimes he only has one gear: fast. He struggles to locate the ball and make big plays. While we like the route running and his “bag of tricks” to get separation. He sometimes does too much and moves just to do them. Resulting in some wasteful route running. 

Ewers could’ve gotten the ball out multiple times if he had just taken one quick step and crossed over the field. Instead of scrambling to make a play or get negative yards. 

He’s a natural-born athlete with elite lateral movement and quickness. He can get to the outside to block or hit the edge for a big gain. That is where he thrives and knows how to do it. As long as he gains separation Mitchell could be a weapon. 

I would love for Mitchell to play with more physicality. He can use his build to let defenders know this is his field and use it to his advantage. Getting in the way of blockers is fine. However, refining his blocking could be a big aspect that gets him drafted.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aFteC7APDzo

I have no doubt the Texas receivers will ball out during this draft process. While I like Worthy. I hope people are not paying attention to Mitchell. Then, you can get a quality receiver in the late first round of fantasy drafts.

Coming in at 6, the final spot for this article: 

 

#6 – Brian Thomas Jr. (LSU)

 

 

Brian Thomas is the tallest guy on this list so far. He stands at 6 foot 5 and weighs 200 pounds. He had a 3-year career at LSU. Finishing his career with 127 receptions, 1897 yards and 24 touchdowns. The hope is that it wasn’t just a flash in the pan. This year he had 68 receptions for 1177 yards and 17 touchdowns, so you could see why people would say this.

It may have taken Brian Thomas 2 years to finally get going. But, a full year in the system with the same quarterback and coach did him wonders. While Nabers will be a top-20 pick in the NFL and worth it, I believe Brian Thomas shouldn’t be too far behind him.  Thomas has a few advantages that he uses to be the best receiver he can be. These are his speed, body control, and length. He was Jayden Daniels security blanket. When Nabers was covered or in double teams, Thomas used his length and body control to make completions. This helped keep the drives rolling.

Daniels’ rushing ability gives Thomas an advantage. LSU exploited it on many occasions. Thomas has deceptive speed that if he is behind the defender no one will catch him. Thomas feasted on bootlegs and broken plays. He did so when the defender committed to the shallow routes and the quarterback.

Like almost every wide receiver on the list so far, we have to bring up the physicality. If there is a knock with his wide receiver class it is that they let defenders dictate their pace/decision-making too much. They need to learn to play through hand fighting or tugs of the jersey. In the NFL, it is called even less than in college. 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDvz0oFdZ7U

Athletically, Thomas is everything you want. The problem with the NFL is that everyone is athletic. So there are certain things you need to do to gain advantages. For Brian, it is his footwork and route breaks. He has beautiful release points at the top of his routes and at the line of scrimmage. 

He uses his speed and length to his advantage. However, he gets lackadaisical in his route breaks. For example, he may not turn around fast enough or round off his routes. As a result, he lets the defender back into the play. 

If he fixes his footwork and balance, he can dictate where the ball will go by winning off the line of scrimmage. He does this not just through athleticism, but also through hard work. 

 

This year’s draft has something different from others. The number of teammates on the list is bigger. Spoiler alert, NIL may be a big culprit for this. Players want to put up numbers, win, and get to the NFL. We can’t fault them for that.  

Thank you for reading part one of the 2024 rookie wide receiver class. Do you feel someone should be on the list? They still could be with part 2 right around the corner. Come back to read part two. It will have the top 5 rookie wide receivers of the 2024 class.