Nabers, Odunze state cases to be draft's top wide receiver; Harrison skips interview

Former Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze will participate in combine drills this week in Indianapolis. File Photo by Kevin M. Cox/UPI
1 of 5 | Former Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze will participate in combine drills this week in Indianapolis. File Photo by Kevin M. Cox/UPI | License Photo

INDIANAPOLIS, March 1 (UPI) -- Rome Odunze and Malik Nabers were among the top wide receiver prospects to speak Friday at the NFL scouting combine. The prospects each explained why they should be the first wide receiver drafted.

Former Ohio State star Marvin Harrison Jr., who participated in medical tests, decided to skip his media availability, scheduled for 8:20 a.m. EST Tuesday in Indianapolis. Harrison also isn't expected to participate in on-field drills at Lucas Oil Stadium.


The other prospects used the media session as an opportunity to boost their draft stock. Many will participate in drills, including the 40-yard dash, to further boost their perceived value to NFL decision-makers.

"That's what it's about: saying you are the best and going and competing for it," Odunze said at the Indiana Convention Center. "I do feel that way. It's a competition, but all of these dudes are ballers.


"I'm super honored to be part of the conversation."

Odunze led college football with 1,640 receiving yards last season at Washington. He also logged 92 catches, including 13 touchdown grabs, helping the Huskies reach the College Football Playoff title game.

The former Huskies star is known for versatility and his ability to separate from defenders and complete contested catches. He also possesses deceptive speed.

Odunze, who plans to participate in all of the combine drills, said he visited this week with the New York Giants and Tennessee Titans. He is targeting a sub 4.4-second 40-yard dash time.

"I've shown all the skills that can translate to the NFL, at a high level, in different facets of my game," Odunze said. "I think who I am as a person, who I'll be to a locker room and who I'll be in the community are all A+."

Former LSU stars Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. will be among the other wide receivers competing with Harrison and Odunze to be the first one picked in the draft.

Nabers, who also visited with the Giants and Titans, will not participate in combine drills. He plans to workout at LSU pro day alongside Thomas and former Tigers star quarterback Jayden Daniels -- the 2023 Heisman Trophy winner.


Nabers trailed only Odunze with 1,569 receiving yards last season. He also scored 14 touchdowns and logged 89 receptions. He said "of course," when asked Friday if he is the best wide receiver in the draft class.

"I'm able to play outside and inside, go against eight [different] cornerbacks in a game and still put up big numbers, at the end of the day," Nabers said.

Nabers (6-foot-0) is a bit shorter than Odunze (6-foot-3), Harrison (6-foot-3) and Thomas (6-foot-4), but possesses premier explosiveness as a playmaker. He started his career at LSU in the slot before moving outside.

Thomas, who led college football with 17 touchdowns last season, hauled in 68 total grabs for 1,177 yards last season for the Tigers.

"I feel like I would be a great teammate for a team and a great leader in a wide receiver room," Thomas said.

Thomas visited with several teams this week, including the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Buffalo Bills, Pittsburgh Steelers and Dallas Cowboys.

The former Tigers star said he thinks some experts are underrating him ahead of the draft. He said his ability to read coverages is among his strengths.


"Everybody is good in their own way on the field, but me being able to pick up on the little things is giving me an advantage," Thomas said of the wide receiver class.

Harrison, who totaled 67 catches for 1,211 yards and 14 scores last season for the Buckeyes, also is not expected to participate in Ohio State's pro day.

The two-time All-American, who was a Heisman Trophy finalist, totaled 77 catches for 1,263 yards and 14 scores in 2022. He remains the betting favorite to be the first wide receiver picked in the draft.

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