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2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report: Malik Nabers

If it weren't for the freak of nature that Marvin Harrsion Jr is, Malike Nabers would be the #1 wide receiver taken in this year's loaded receiving class. Although Jayden Daniels was unreal this past season, a large part of it was because of Malik. In his sophomore season (2022), he wasn't putting up crazy numbers, around 30-70 YPG, but with four games left in the season, they started to feed him. To end the season, he had four games in a row with seven catches for 129 yards, seven catches for 69 yards, five catches for 128 yards, and nine catches for 163 yards.

That is when LSU knew they had their new star wide receiver for the coming year. Malik had a sensational 2023 season, totaling 1,569 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns on 89 receptions. That results in 17.6 Yards per reception. He is a fantastic talent and is being overlooked because of MHJ. But when you break it down, the gap between them is the smallest of margins.

Player Bio

Name: Malik Nabers

Jersey: No. 8

Position: WR

School: LSU

Class: Junior

Height: 6'0

Weight: 200lbs.

Games Watched: Alabama (2022), Georgia (2022), Mississippi St. (2023), Alabama (2023), Florida (2023)

Player Breakdown

Hands/Ball Security (8/10)

Malik Nabers played for three years and never once fumbled. His ball security is as good as it gets, and his hands are as sure as they come. However, he isn't the greatest jump ball/contested-catch type of receiver. He dropped five passes out of 94 "catchable balls" and finished with 89 catches. He always finds a way to get open and continuously finds the soft spot in zone coverage, making him a very reliable target.

Contested Catch (7/10)

Nabers can definitely make contested catches here and there, but compared to other players in the draft, like Rome Odunze or even his teammate Brian Thomas Jr., he ranks a little lower. He is more of a YAC type of player. He loves to make defenders miss and excels in the open field. Malik had 22 contested catch opportunities and only came down with 10 (45.5%).

Tracking/Body Control (8.5/10)

There isn't a catch that Malik can't make. He has everything you could want a WR to have in their arsenal, and his tracking is a big part of that. Whether that's tracking a deep ball with precision or if it's readjusting his body to make a perfect sideline snag. He makes phenomenal play after phenomenal play, making him a projected top 6 pick. Look at him here, putting on a tremendous display of body control.

Route Running (9.5/10)

If you haven't done so already, look at Malik Naber's route running and try to tell me it isn't one of the most beautiful things your eyes have seen. He consistently finds a way to get open. If he is facing man coverage, he'll hit them with a combination of moves to make them look silly. And if he is facing zone coverage, he will always find a way to fit right into the soft spot of the zone. His break in and out of routes is so explosive that it leaves defenders stunned for a second. He has every route in his bag, but the Sluggo route is his most effective. Teams are expecting him to get the ball in space, so they bite on the slant, and that's where he makes them pay and turns upfield, burning his defender.

Separation (9.5/10)

It's pretty much the same thing as route running. Nabers separates himself at such a high rate, which results in him getting open so often. With 4.4 speed, he canoves faster than most of his opponents, quickly leaving them in the dust. He separates himself on every route. He can stop on a dime when running a hitch, leaving himself wide open. He can quickly move on the cornerback at the line and create space on his slants. And he can just run straight down the field with his blazing speed and become open as well.

Release (9/10)

Being an elite route runner starts with an elite release. His first step off the line is quick and deceiving. It is more effective on shorter routes than on deeper routes, as he is better at coming across the field than he is vertical. He has the whole release package, but if there is one spot to improve, it would be to become more effective when selling the deep route.

Run After the Catch (10/10)

This is easily the LSU standout's best feature. They designed lots of slants/in-routes for Nabers because of his jaw-dropping ability with the ball in space. When he has open field after the catch, he will make defenders miss and turn it upfield for extra yardage. He can make something out of nothing, whether it's from a handoff or just a screen pass. This is what makes him so dangerous.

In this clip, he demonstrates turning a little handoff into a 75-yard touchdown, making every defender miss.

Vertical Speed (9/10)

Having 4.4 speed pretty much separates a player from many of his opponents. Just because he is best in the shorter game doesn't mean he isn't an excellent deep ball receiver as well. As I mentioned at the start, there is a reason he would be the first WR taken in most drafts if it weren't for Marvin Harrison Jr. He and Jayden Daniels connected multiple times for deep touchdowns this season, and it was a thing of beauty every time.

Acceleration (5/5)

Nabers' instant explosion allows him to shift defenders so that they are off-balanced. Then, after the route, once he gets the ball in his hands, he turns it up another notch and can make a special play every time he touches the ball— with similar burst after the catch, such as Deebo Samuel or Tyreek Hill. I'm not saying he is as good as them yet, but the style of play reminds me a lot of those two, especially how he accelerates after the catch.

Athleticism (5/5)

Malik did it all in high school. Not only did he play football, but he also competed in basketball and track at high levels. He is 6'0, 200lbs. with a 4.4 speed and a 40-inch vertical. Not much else needs to be said here. As soon as you watch him play, you'll realize he is the ultimate athlete.

Blocking (4/5)

Nabers doesn't have the longest arms, but he sure gives maximum effort when blocking for his teammates. The blocking didn't just come from run plays, either. When another WR caught the ball, he would do his all to ensure his teammate could gain maximum yardage or score. Here's an example of that.

Versatility (5/5)

Malik Nabers can be used in jet sweeps, slants, curls, posts, and go routes. He can be used in every aspect of the game. Oh yeah, and he's a pretty good blocker as well. I sound like a broken record right now, but seriously, there is nothing that this freak athlete can't do.

Player Summary

One of the most polished wide receivers in recent draft history. He is such an elusive weapon that can be used in any type of offense. He is mainly known to be a YAC type of player, but don't be fooled; he is also a scary deep threat. If there is one area of his game to work on, it would be contested catches. He has made spectacular plays when given that opportunity but only hauled in 45% of those chances. Rome Odunze (projected WR3) had a 74% contested catch rate. Malik can track deep balls well and control his body in ways that will wow you, but he needs to become a better jump ball guy consistently. Other than that, he is as good as they come. His burst, route running, and twitch makes him so effective. He doesn't need much room; get him the ball, and good things will happen.

I can easily see Malik Nabers going top 5 with how the draft is set up this year. The first three picks will be quarterbacks, and then the Cardinals seem to be set with Marvin Harrison, which leaves the Chargers at 5. They just got rid of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen, who were their two best wide receivers so that they will be looking for as much help as possible in that department. Malik getting a gunslinger like Justin Herbert could be the best thing to happen for him. We know Herbert loves to feed his number one option, so Nabers could be set up for a prolific start to his career.

Rookie Projection: Day 1 Starter/OROTY Upside

Third-Year Projection: Pro Bowl Reciever

Final Grade: 89.5 (Top-10 Talent)

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