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NFL Draft Profile – WR Malik Nabers

By Doug Orth | 4/17/24 |

Malik Nabers


College: LSU
Height/Weight: 6' 0"/200
Hands: 9 7/8"
Age: 21 (at the time of the 2024 season opener)

Important NFL Combine Numbers

40-Yard Dash: 4.38 (pro day)
Vertical Jump: 42" (pro day)
Broad Jump: 10’ 9” (pro day)
20-Yard Shuttle: N/A
3-Cone: N/A

College Production (Stats)

High-end NFL Player Comp(s): CeeDee Lamb

Low-end NFL Player Comp(s): Terry McLaurin

Best Scheme Fit: Universal. Classic Z (flanker) should see plenty of time in the slot in 11 personnel. More than capable of being a dominant X (split end) as well.

Best Team Fit(s): Chargers, Giants, Cardinals, Broncos, Bears

Non-bolded times - Good examples of attribute
Bolded times - Average/poor examples of attribute

Position-Specific Attributes and Grades
Attribute Att Grade Scale Examples
Ball Tracking 9.0 10.0

4:16, 4:32, 5:44, 7:11, 16:34, 19:51, 22:03

2:30, 16:46

Contested Catch/Body Control 8.5 10.0

1:08, 1:45, 4:16, 7:11, 16:34, 19:37, 19:51, 22:03


Hands 9.0 10.0

1:45, 7:11, 8:55, 16:34, 19:51

0:23, 9:14, 11:39

Release 8.0 10.0

0:05, 8:00

Route-Running 9.0 10.0

5:15, 14:39, 18:50

3:51, 13:17, 21:18

Run After Catch 9.5 10.0

8:07, 8:33, 8:55, 13:05, 13:39, 17:50, 22:30

Physicality/Competitiveness 8.0 8.0

0:56, 6:13, 7:26

Separation 5.0 6.0

2:36, 4:32, 5:15, 13:03, 18:50, 19:51

12:35, 16:55

Speed 4.0 4.0

8:00, 8:33, 10:25, 14:39, 15:10, 22:30

Blocking 1.0 2.0

0:20, 0:40, 8:07

5:10, 5:42, 17:23

Film Grade 71.0 80.0

Pre-Draft Fantasy Prospect Grade* (out of 50): 43.5

* - How well does his skill set carry over to the fantasy game? For receivers, a player needs to be a realistic threat for 70 catches and 1,000 receiving yards at some point early in their career to be a candidate for a perfect grade. Positional scarcity at the pro level is also a part of the equation.


  • Although he did not run the most elaborate route tree in college, he is a true threat at every level (short/intermediate/deep).

  • Very explosive athlete who instantly flips the switch from pass-catcher to playmaker once the ball is in his hands; high-level run-after-catch threat who ranked fourth in FBS with 30 missed tackles forced (one MTF per every three catches in 2023).

  • Stellar stop-start ability and tempo changes allow him to sell the double move well and he has the speed to make his man look silly if he bites.

  • Spatial awareness is off the charts; has an instinctual feel in the open field - both against zone coverage and after the catch.

  • Seems to be very much in tune with his quarterback on scramble-drill opportunities.

  • Very respectable 5.3 percent drop rate in each of his two high-volume seasons.


  • Plays much bigger than he is after the catch, but how long can he do that in the NFL at 6-0 and 200 pounds?

  • Allows the ball to get into his frame a bit too often.

  • Will likely need some time to expand his route resume at the pro level, as more than 40 percent of the routes he ran in 2023 were either go routes or curls. Also lined up in the slot more than half the time during his college career.

  • Not the most proactive receiver when it comes to contested-catch situations; needs to show a "my ball" mentality more often.

  • Did not see the defense through his quarterback's eyes on several hot-route opportunities.

  • Has an arrest on his record (a misdemeanor illegal weapon charge in February of 2023); the charge was later dropped.

Bottom Line

Whereas Marvin Harrison Jr. is more of a finished product, there is a fair amount of meat left on the bone as far as what Nabers could be at the next level. For better or worse, nearly half of the routes Nabers ran in college - at least in 2023 anyway - were built off the same concept (not unlike a young DeSean Jackson): respect the curl/stop route and get beat by the speed or respect the speed and get beat by the curl/stop and let run-after-catch skills come into play. The polish to his release and crispness to his overall route-running could use some work as well, although we can probably assume he has been able to rely on his raw athleticism to get by more often than not. The one area in which the high-end comp to Lamb falls short is as a contested-catch receiver. Simply put, he is not on that level yet (where Lamb was in that regard in college). He shows flashes, however, so the possibility of it happening down the road exists. One final note to keep in mind regarding Nabers' production: 60 percent of his yardage and 10 of his 14 touchdowns came out of the slot in 2023. Likewise, almost 30 percent of his total yards and nine of his scores came on slot fades.

There are at least two areas where Nabers is exceptional. Think of the receivers with the quickest feet in the league in recent years, such as Justin Jefferson and Antonio Brown. Nabers' foot quickness is at or near that level. The 2023 Citrus Bowl MVP's quick feet also contribute to his other superpower: his run-after-catch ability. Not only does Nabers put defenses in a bind by trying to corral him in the open field, but he also plays the position as if he is 215 pounds when he has the ball in his hand. LSU regularly featured him on jet sweeps/tap passes to take advantage of this very quality. His contact balance is on par with some of the best college running backs. His innate ability to make the right move in the open field consistently and the awareness he possesses for feeling the soft spot in zone coverage round out some of his other very impressive qualities. He even brings a bit of a trick-play element, as he was used on a reverse pass a couple of times in 2022. (Here is the best example.)

LSU has done an impressive job recruiting and molding receivers over the last 10-plus years, including but not limited to Justin Jefferson, Ja'Marr Chase, Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry. Nabers has that kind of talent, although I think it would be unwise to expect that level of success right away from him. For example, Jefferson was a refined route-runner in college, while Chase has always been more physical than what Nabers put on tape. Nabers should be an immediate high-level contributor out of the slot the moment he steps out on the field, but he may need a bit of time to work on his release and ability to play through press against some of the league's most physical corners on the perimeter. As with most elite talents who show they want to be great as much as Nabers does, it should only be a matter of time before that happens. When it does, Nabers could easily emerge as the most dynamic playmaker in this draft class from what appears to be a loaded group of players at his position.

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Doug Orth has written for FFToday since 2006 and been featured in USA TODAY's Fantasy Football Preview magazine since 2010. He is also a high-stakes player who often appears as a guest analyst on a number of national sports radio shows, such as Sirius XM’s “Fantasy Drive." Doug is also a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.

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