NFL draft: Don’t sleep on Washington’s Rome Odunze among talented wide receivers

First in a series previewing the 2024 draft
Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, right, beats Tulsa cornerback Tyree Carlisle for a 2-yard touchdown catch during the first quarter at Husky Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Seattle. (Jennifer Buchanan/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Credit: TNS

Credit: TNS

Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, right, beats Tulsa cornerback Tyree Carlisle for a 2-yard touchdown catch during the first quarter at Husky Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023, in Seattle. (Jennifer Buchanan/The Seattle Times/TNS)

Here’s the first story of our position-by-position NFL draft series. Today, we’ll look at the top wide receivers. Next: running backs.

After somewhat of a down draft at the wide receiver position last year, the group is back with a strong contingent of first-round talent in the 2024 NFL draft, which is set for April 25-27 in Detroit.

Last year, there was no wide receiver taken in the top 10 of the draft. Only four wide receivers went in the first round and were selected 20th (Jaxson Smith-Njigba), 21st (Quentin Johnston), 22nd (Zay Flowers) and 23rd (Jordan Addison).

NFL teams selected five wide receivers in the top 10 of the first round in the 2021 and 2022 drafts, and 17 overall in the first round of the 2020-22. The position was so deep in 2021 that Tee Higgins slipped into the second round.

Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr., LSU’s Malik Nabers and Washington’s Rome Odunze are considered the top receivers in the draft and are projected to go in the top 10 of the draft.

Harrison, the son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison Sr., could go as high as fourth, to Arizona.

“Marvin’s been a great player,” Arizona general manager Monti Ossenfort said. “He’s been a productive player these last couple years. It’s a strong receiver draft, it is.”

Harrison became a two-time unanimous first-team All-American last season.

“I really don’t want to get into an individual scouting report right now,” Ossenfort said. “All I can tell you is we’ve done a lot of work on Marvin. ... We’re excited to continue to work (with) him through the process.”

While a lot of the pre-draft discussion has focused on Harrison and Nabers, Odunze shined at Washington last season.

He caught 92 passes for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns last season to help the Huskies reach the College Football Playoff.

“(He’s) big, fast, physical, smart, and tough guy, who can go play above the rim and (has) some route polish to him,” NFL Network draft analyst Daniel Jeremiah said. “I love what he has from a skill-set standpoint. I think all of it translates.”

Odunze played well in Washington’s big games. He used his size to dominate.

“In games in the NFL, especially going to the postseason, I think some of that space disappears,” said Jeremiah, a former scout with the Ravens. “You have to have guys who can win with bodies around them. He can do that.”

Odunze combines his size with speed. He ran the 40-yard dash in 4.45 seconds at the NFL Scouting Combine.

“I love there’s a bounce and an energy to him that I love,” Jeremiah said. “I love the fact that even though you might have to coach some of this out of him, he hates running out of bounds. You’ll see the competitiveness in him. When he is on the sideline, he tries to get everything he can get. He is a real, real competitive football player.”

Odunze also has a high football acumen and can play all three wide receiver positions.

“He has been training with (ex-NFL player and coach) Ricky Proehl, and Proehl said he is as smart of a receiver as he has ever been around,” Jeremiah said. “Those things are great.”

Odunze hopes to play at a high level in the NFL.

“I think a successful career would be ending in the Hall of Fame,” Odunze said. “I want to go at least 10 years. That would hopefully be what it would take. But I want to be one of the best to ever play the game and end up in the Hall of Fame.”

Odunze believes he’s the best receiver in the draft.

“I just think my versatility on the field,” Odunze said. “I’ve shown all the skills that can translate to the NFL at a high level and different facets of my game. I think who I am as a person, who I am in the locker room, who I will be in the community are all A-plus.”

Odunze believes he can transition into the NFL flawlessly.

“I would just say I am a student of the game,” Odunze said. “I am always willing to learn, always willing to understand there is room for improvement regardless of where I am in my career.”

LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr., also is highly regarded.

“I am really high on him,” Jeremiah said of Thomas. “He’s a top-15 player in the draft for me.”

The defending Super Bowl-champion Kansas City Chiefs are in the wide receiver market.

“I think if you are going to take a receiver, there’s a bunch of them,” Jeremiah said. “(The Chiefs) could easily slide back from where they’re picking and go get another one.”

Former Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey had a strong Senior Bowl showing. He’s projected to go late in the first round or early in the second.

“I think I’m versatile,” McConkey said. “Kind of play inside, outside, play special teams. I can get the job done. Whatever you need, I can be the one to do it.”












WIDE RECEIVERS – Past few drafts have spoiled NFL teams looking for wide receivers | Top 10 WRs

RUNNING BACKS – Running backs Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs may have to wait to hear their names called | Top 10 RBs

TIGHT ENDS – Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer heads a dee TE class | Top 10 TEs

QUARTERBACKS – Bryce Young’s small stature no longer an issue in the NFL | Top 10 QBs

OFFENSIVE LINE – Skoronski’s short arm length being scrutinized for left tackle | Top 5 C,G, &OTs

DEFENSIVE LINE – Is Jalen Carter the real deal or a potential bust? | Top 5 DTs, DEs

LINEBACKERS – Dutchtown’s Will Anderson expected to go in the top 5 of NFL draft | Top LBs

CORNERBACKS – Former Georgia standout Kelee Ringo one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL draft | Top CBs

SAFETIES – Alabama’s Brian Branch, Jordan Battle are top safeties in the NFL draft | Top FS/SS

SPECIAL TEAMS – Michigan’s Jake Moody hopes to kick way to NFL draft | Top STs

The Bow Tie Chronicles