Ranking top 12 wide receiver prospects: Who will the Carolina Panthers draft?

The Carolina Panthers would be wise to take advantage of an outstanding draft class.
Adonai Mitchell
Adonai Mitchell / Aaron E. Martinez/American-Statesman /
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2. Malik Nabers

Malik Nabers is a flip-of-a-coin type of player in the ongoing debate for the No. 2 wide receiver in the draft. He wins in a way that few can and this is something that translates to the NFL very well.

A unanimous All-American in 2023, Nabers displayed incredible playmaking ability, averaging 18 yards per reception for over 1,500 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns. There are times when the box score doesn’t translate on film, but that is the complete opposite for the LSU sensation, who is just as advertised. 

Nabers best trait is his elite run-after-catch ability. He plays like a running back after the catch, sporting high-level vision and contact balance. He turns short route concepts into explosive plays due to his incredible explosiveness and burst. It’s safe to say that his 4.38-second 40-yard dash at his pro day translates smoothly to his tape.

The play-style pro comparison I have for Nabers is a popular one, yet it is a comparison that makes too much sense, D.J. Moore. Both have terrific ball skills and play like running backs after the catch. However, the incoming prospect is more explosive and is a much better route runner.

With his combination of elite ball skills, route-running ability, RAC creativity, separation skills, and football acumen, Nabers projects as a No. 1 receiver in an NFL offense and a potential cornerstone offensive talent.

1. Marvin Harrison Jr.

Imagine an alternate reality where the Carolina Panthers still have the No. 1 overall selection in this year’s draft. There will be a lot of conversation around trading back with a quarterback-needy team, especially with the Washington Commanders sitting at No. 2 overall.

However, if they were to sit tight in this reality, I believe they would make Marvin Harrison Jr. the first wide receiver to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL Draft since Keyshawn Johnson in 1996. 

Harrison is the best wide receiver prospect in over a decade and is more than deserving of being labeled a generational talent. He is easily the highest grade wideout since I began doing draft evaluations in 2018 over the likes of CeeDee Lamb and Ja’Marr Chase. 

The Ohio State phenom has very few flaws in his game. Even if he did, it’s more nitpicking than anything. The son of Pro Football Hall of Famer Marvin Harrison Sr. is physically and athletically gifted as a player. His ball skills are arguably the best in the league and can come down with almost any ball thrown his way. 

The two-time unanimous All-American is an elite route runner and separator, sporting detail and craft in his tempo, releases, and movements that allow him to win consistently before the catch. After the catch, Harrison has the speed to beat pursuit angles even though he isn’t entirely creative in space. At the catch point, his body control is exceptional along with terrific sideline awareness and contested catch ability.

Overall, Harrison offers the best combination of physical traits and tools I’ve seen entering the league. His skill set is complete, displaying incredible nuance as a route runner, ample quickness as a separator, superior body control, high-level ball skills, and elite athleticism that allows him to be a deadly three-level threat.

He projects as an immediate No. 1 target in an NFL offense and has the potential to be an All-Pro performer in no time at all.