Devy Battle: Huskies Heavies, Rome Odunze vs. Jalen McMillan
Welcome to Devy Battle: Huskies Heavies. This is a recurring series in which we pit two college players against each other and advise you on the strategy necessary to acquire each. At the end, we'll help you choose which player to prioritize, but by all means, if you can get both, do that.
An NCAA football program can have much bigger problems than which of your 2024 NFL draft locks at wide receiver should your 2024 1st round quarterback prioritize in the passing game. Welp. That's the conundrum that the University of Washington Huskies football program and star quarterback Michael Penix, Jr. are dealing with.
The Huskies receiving corps is led by Rome Odunze, Junior wide receiver who was a 4-star recruit from Bishop Gorman High School in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Jalen McMillan, another 4-star recruit from San Joaquin Memorial High School in Fresno, California. Much like the Ohio State Buckeyes with Marvin Harrison, Jr. and Emeka Egbuka, both of whom are competing for touches, the Huskies are in the enviable position of trotting two of the 10 best college receivers onto the field every Saturday. This puts US in the UNENVIABLE position of figuring out where to devote our energy in Devy and College fantasy leagues.
That's why we're here. We want you to be primed to make the best decision. Will it be Odunze? Will it be McMillan? The answer may surprise you. LET'S GET IT ON!
If there is an edge to be found here, I haven't found it. Production differences are negligible with no advantage to either. Odunze is little taller, McMillan is a little faster. This matchup reminds me of Harrison/Egbuka in almost every way.
The Case for Rome Odunze
I want to build a prototypical NFL WR prospect. He needs to produce. I'm looking for speed below a 4.6 second 40-yard dash. Odunze ran a reported 4.45. I want a minimum size of 175 pounds or over 6 feet in height. Odunze clears both of those easy. Lastly, I want a receiver to have competition on his team from other NFL projectable receivers. Odunze has McMillan. The only two places where Odunze falls short is in breakout age and as an early declare. He didn't breakout until he was 20 years old, and that may have been as a Sophomore, but it was his 3rd year in the program, after red-shirting. He also will be declaring after 4 years, not 3.
Those profile boxes left unchecked matter a little, but not significantly. Sometimes, as is the case with both Odunze and McMillan, they can be subject to the system and it's not a matter of talent. The point is, Odunze's profile is good.
On the field, where it matters most, Odunze is a very polished receiver. He is good against press coverage and wins at the line of scrimmage with explosive acceleration and violent hands. He has enough wiggle to separate before the catch and to evade tacklers and create YAC. He's also a legitimate deep threat with good ball-tracking skills, uses his hands well, and is acrobatic. There's a lot to like, and in 2022 he averaged 15.3 yards per catch.
As far as how you should strategize your draft, Odunze doesn't rise to the level of his Ohio State counterparts, but he is still a nice 2nd round target. If MHJ or Egbuka are on the board, but if not, look for Odunze. His Fantrax ADP of 15 leaves room for volatility as I've seen him taken with the 21st pick and the 26th pick which hints at mild value.
The time to trade for him is now, as another huge year and high draft capital next Summer will put him in a range similar to where Zay Flowers or Jordan Addison are right now.
The Case for Jalen McMillan
Let's now take a look at how McMillan fits into my profile. Speed? Check. Size? Check. Breakout age? Same. Declare? Same. Competition? Same. It's almost like we're dealing with clones. Where Odunze has the edge, barely, is in his size and production. McMillan, however, is faster. He also has a knack for route running and using a DB's technique against him to create space. He's a human joystick-type with quick feet and stop-start ability. He reaches his top speed quickly and smoothly coming out of breaks and uses his hands well to catch. He can jump and has long arms for his size so he can high-point in contested catch situations.
To contrast the two teammates, they both can do a lot of the same things, but I think McMillan has just a few more tools in his toolbox. That doesn't necessarily translate to value, it just gilds his profile a little bit and moves him closer to Odunze, in my eyes as opposed to consensus.
McMillan is an incredible value. He has the potential to overtake Odunze statistically, but he doesn't have the ADP or cache. A firm late-2nd round ADP and creating some 3rd round value allow you to take other players earlier and not sacrifice production. He's in the perfect position to allow you to target the elite QBs and RBs first, and take him later.
If you own him, hold. If you can trade for him, do it now.
Push. You're going to get production from both. They're ridiculously even. If you have a later round pick in your Devy draft, don't be afraid to take them both as your WRs 1 and 2. If you have an early pick in the first round, take an elite QB, an elite RB, Marvin Harrison, Jr. or Emeka Egbuka in the 1st and then be pleased if Odunze falls or McMillan is available. In our DynastyPros C2C Writers League, I took Odunze at 2.09 and McMillan went at 3.10.
Brendon is from Northern California and has been playing fantasy sports for over 25 years. He started sports writing 10 years ago. He is an alumnus of Arkansas Tech University, and follows the UC Davis Aggies, Cal Bears, and Arkansas Razorbacks in the NCAA. He is a die-hard fan of the Raiders, wherever they are, the San Francisco Giants, and Sacramento Kings. To fill his time outside of sports, he acts, writes and directs, and does sketch, improv, and stand-up comedy.