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How big is the gap between Marvin Harrison Jr. and other 2024 draft WRs?

WCG’s lead draft analyst compares Marvin Harrison Jr. to other top receivers in the 2024 draft.

Ohio State v Michigan Photo by Aaron J. Thornton/Getty Images

Throughout the course of the pre-draft process, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. has been the consensus top wide receiver in the 2024 NFL Draft.

The son of the Hall of Fame wide receiver of the same name is far from just another nepotism prospect. He’s a legitimate superstar, a two-time unanimous All-American and the 2023 Biletnikoff Award winner. There hasn’t been much pushback in the way of a different wide receiver atop the 2024 class, and his resume speaks for itself.

However, there have been a couple of wide receivers who have stood out heading into the 2024 draft. That begs the question: how big is the gap between Harrison and some of the other top wide receivers in this class?

For the sake of this argument, I’m going to use two receivers with first-round grades on my board: LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze.

Nabers is the most athletic of the three, with his game-changing speed and high-end lateral quickness giving him big-play potential. He’s the smallest of the three, but he’s far from small at 6-foot-0 and 195 pounds. His agility after the catch is tremendous, and he has the ability to stretch the field that vertical offenses should love.

Odunze had the best production of the three this past season, tallying 92 receptions for an FBS-best 1,640 yards and adding 13 touchdowns to the mix. He’s a more well-rounded receiver than Nabers and has the big body scouts love. One could even argue his ball skills are a little bit better than Harrison’s, too.

Having broken down all three of the top receivers in the class in articles here at Windy City Gridiron, I decided to show how they all compare on my grading scale. As one can see, the differences between all three aren’t necessarily massive.

Grading the 3 receivers

Name School Height Weight Route running Athleticism Hands Agility 50/50 balls Release YAC Production Size Concerns Upside
Name School Height Weight Route running Athleticism Hands Agility 50/50 balls Release YAC Production Size Concerns Upside
Rome Odunze Washington 6'3" 215 lbs 16/20 12/15 8/10 7/10 8/10 8/10 3/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Marvin Harrison Jr. Ohio State 6'4" 205 lbs 16/20 12/15 8/10 7/10 8/10 8/10 4/5 5/5 5/5 5/5 5/5
Malik Nabers LSU 6'0" 200 lbs 15/20 13/15 8/10 8/10 7/10 7/10 4/5 5/5 4/5 5/5 5/5

I also decided to look to SIS DataHub and PFF to find how the three receivers compare from an analytical perspective. For the most part, Nabers seems to have had the best 2023 season of the bunch.

Comparing the analytics

Player Drop % BT+MT/Rec Targeted Rating Points Earned/Route PAA/Route Positive % PFF Grade
Player Drop % BT+MT/Rec Targeted Rating Points Earned/Route PAA/Route Positive % PFF Grade
Marvin Harrison Jr. 6.90% 0.1 118.3 0.131 10.60% 53.80% 89.9
Rome Odunze 4.80% 0.2 118.8 0.08 5.40% 62.10% 89.8
Malik Nabers 4.90% 0.3 143.7 0.121 9.50% 63.30% 92.9

From a tape perspective, I’ve deduced that Harrison is the complete package in that he’s great in three important aspects of the wide receiver position: size, speed and route-running savvy. Nabers has the elite speed and route-running savvy, and Odunze has the size and route-running savvy. With that in mind, it becomes pretty clear MHJ is the top receiver of the bunch if you trust that logic.

However, the numbers point to the gap between each of the three wide receivers not being incredibly massive.

This points comes into play particularly for the Bears, who find themselves with two top-10 picks in the 2024 draft. As things currently stand, it seems like a foregone conclusion Harrison will be selected within the first 4 selections of the draft. The consensus points to him being selected by the Cardinals with the No. 4 pick, while others see the Patriots passing on a quarterback to take MHJ third overall.

The Bears will likely not be able to select Harrison with the No. 9 pick. Hell, if they’re intent on selecting a quarterback with the No. 1 pick, the odds of Chicago drafting MHJ are slim to none, barring a trade-up from the ninth spot. That means the likelihood of selecting him comes down to their selecting him with the first pick, or trading down to the No. 2 or No. 3 pick and selecting him.

Should the Bears select a quarterback, this whole point becomes moot. Should they trade down from the No. 1 pick, though, these arguments indicate it might be better for them to trade further down, select one of Nabers or Odunze as their top wide receiver pick and acquire extra draft capital, rather than stay put or make a minor trade down to pick Harrison.

If you’re looking at this purely from an NFL-wide, macro level, then it still becomes clear that Harrison is the top wide receiver prospect in the 2024 draft. That said, Odunze and Nabers don’t seem to be too far behind. That’s a strong indication that, even if you can’t get Harrison, then WR-needy teams like the Giants, Titans, Bears or Chargers would still have the chance to acquire one of the better wide receiver prospects in recent memory.

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