2024 Skill Position Draft Review Part 2

This first set of post draft reviews will examine the second tier of WRs, roughly in the order they were ranked pre-draft. Ricky Pearsall and Ja’Lynn Polk, being unexpected risers (at least to these methods) will be profiled in the next set of WR reviews. Tier ranks will be established in the final postings after all the reviews have been completed and uploaded. So while the below reviews are posted in rough descending order of efficiency, final tiers/ ranks are yet to come

Profiling as a potential future star WR, Ladd McConkey (lateral oriented anterior dominant) is one of the few receivers in this class to show high levels of efficiency in both thoracic and lumbar areas, and in practice combines superlative route running with excellent hands (albeit not a particularly large catch radius). His overall lumbar efficiency appears near the top of the class, and he shows both extremely quick acceleration and excellent change of direction ability. Along the anterior, McConkey also shows excellent independence between lumbar and thoracic areas which allows him soft hands even when making quick lower body adjustments. Although McConkey shows good posterior development overall (particularly lumbar), the one caveat to his high level profile is that his posterior areas appear quite tight and somewhat interwoven. Lacking posterior independence means that McConkey’s ability to extend his arms away from his body to make catches while running full speed is quite limited. And while having a tight posterior system means that his whole body moves very abruptly (which is a plus for generating separation and evading tacklers), it also means that he lacks play strength and can be bullied by stronger corners at the line of scrimmage or while running routes (and his blocking is not generally very effective). This tight overlapped posterior system may also predict elevated injury risk. Overall, McConkey appears likely to be extremely difficult to defend, both in running routes and with the ball in his hands, especially if used as a Z or slot (to help avoid press coverage). With proper usage and health permitting, it seems likely that McConkey will be very productive. And in LA, he will likely become the number one target sooner rather than later.

Brian Thomas Jr (lateral oriented anterior dominant) appears to be of the most impressive athletes in the 2024 NFL draft. Showing a rare combination of superlative lumbar efficiency and excellent thoracic efficiency/ independence (in favored lateral anterior areas) with excellent size and height, Thomas appears to have succeeded to this point in his career largely off the back of this truly high end base athleticism. In terms of speed down the field while showing soft hands (with a reasonably large catch radius), Thomas Jr likely has no peer in this class– an absolute terror on go routes. Likewise, Thomas Jr shows excellent stopping ability (via highly efficient medial posterior areas), and this combination of elite speed (with very good acceleration) and quick stop ability make Thomas Jr extremely hard to defend along the boundary– play him close and he can blow by you, give him cushion and he can stop on a dime and make an easy reception. Where Thomas Jr doesn’t excel is with his cuts/ sharp changes of direction– although his lateral posterior lumbar areas don’t appear particularly underdeveloped, neither do they appear very efficient, and this likely contributes to Thomas Jr failing to generate significant separation on hard breaking routes. While Thomas Jr will likely be very effective right out of the gate at the sorts of boundary routes he ran successfully in college, for Thomas Jr to reach true alpha receiver status, he will likely need to generate significantly more efficiency in his lateral posterior lumbar areas (to enable harder cuts) and widen his route tree. Given his overall level of biomechanical slack (reasonably high) and lack of apparent stunting in lateral posterior areas, improving this way would appear to be in his range of outcomes.

Javon Baker (medial centric anterior dominant) already appears to be one of the more nuanced route runners in the 2024 class. Baker shows truly high level medial anterior efficiency (both lumbar and thoracic) which translates to excellent short area control– Baker shows quick controlled feet and excellent upper body independence/ control. In addition, Baker shows long efficient lateral posterior thoracic areas and as such shows arguably the largest catch radius (per body size) in the 2024 draft, with long highly efficient arms. Baker’s one notable weakness is that his posterior lumbar areas, while not apparently stunted/ underdeveloped, also do not appear to be particularly efficient (particularly along medial pathways). Meaning that Baker’s leg drive/ push does not appear to be particularly strong (especially straight ahead) and this lack of leg burst can be seen in Baker’s somewhat underwhelming long speed. Where Baker wins on his routes is with quick controlled feet and misdirection (and at the catch point) as opposed to blowing by people/ generating separation via bursts of speed. Nevertheless these quick nuanced feet do often appear to misdirect defensive backs, he can make reasonably sharp cuts, and with a quarterback who trusts Baker to win downfield at the catch point even without huge cushions of separation, Baker may become very productive, especially as he further refines his route running over time. Although Baker does not appear to be a bursty enough runner to become a true alpha (at least early in his career), Drake Maye appears to be exactly the sort of accurate aggressive downfield thrower who can mesh very well with Baker’s skill set. And with the ability to run a full route tree very effectively, Javon Baker may prove to be one of the biggest steals in the 2024 draft, possibly even rising to alpha receiver level over time.

Xavier Worthy (medial centric anterior dominant) shows an interesting combination of high levels of medial anterior efficiency with superlative lumbar development and efficiency, and as such appears to be a nuanced short area route runner with extraordinary straight line speed. In fact, as a straight line runner, Worthy likely has no peer in this class (and he set the all time combine 40 record). It is Worthy’s medial anterior efficiency in general that affords him excellent short area control. However, Worthy’s posterior areas appear so tightly wound and centered towards his lumbar areas that his otherwise stellar profile must be downgraded significantly. His posterior thoracic tightness and borrowing from thoracic to lumbar areas likely explains why Worthy struggles so often to make strong catches while running full speed– any degree of contact (or even contortion) is often enough to dislodge the ball from hands that have lost strength in favor of leg drive. Likewise, Worthy appears to struggle to change direction powerfully via posterior lumbar areas that have developed so tightly to power straight ahead but not laterally. As a receiver who can utilize short area control and shiftiness to get open in the near/ intermediate areas and then run straight ahead like a cheetah, Worthy will likely become quite productive if schemed creatively. And with such incredible speed, Worthy can generate significant separation deep (although making any sort of deep catch through contact may be difficult). So with arguably the league’s pre-eminent playcaller scheming him touches in KC, Worthy will likely become quite productive for stretches. But with such important relative weaknesses in size, play strength, and lateral leg drive, Worthy seems unlikely to become an every-game primary threat, rather than a home run hitting deep threat/ schemed touch player.

Troy Franklin (lateral oriented anterior dominant) presents a profile that may suggest struggles in the transition to NFL play, despite Franklin’s prolific college career. Franklin appears to be very strongly oriented around his lumbar areas, with thoracic areas that are somewhat borrowed towards these areas. While this means his lumbar areas appear highly efficient (particularly along lateral anterior and medial posterior pathways), it also means that Franklin shows very little independence between upper and lower body, and takes an extra beat to accelerate from a stop. This lacking independence between thoracic and lumbar areas could be seen most clearly during Franklin’s disappointing combine gauntlet drill, where he was unable to easily pivot his upper body and make catches while simultaneously running straight ahead. Likewise on the field, Franklin generally struggles to make contested catches and to cleanly/ easily pivot his upper body while running. Where Franklin excels (and appears to be the source of much of his college success) is in his combination of high anterior and medial posterior lumbar efficiency– Franklin combines superlative top end speed with quick stopping ability, and powerful (albeit somewhat rounded) changes of direction. While Franklin’s apparently underdeveloped lateral posterior lumbar areas mean that Franklin shows somewhat stiff hips and inability to make sharp cuts cleanly and easily (which appears to limit his effectiveness on slants and out routes), when running routes that allow for more rounded cuts and particularly if they involve hard stops, Franklin generally excels. The one other caveat to Franklin’s profile is that his skinny frame and light weight (and lack of upper body efficiency/ control) mean that corners can often throw off his routes with only subtle tugs or holds (subtle enough to evade referee notice) and prevent his gaining separation. Overall, Franklin offers some truly top level traits (speed, stopping ability, leg drive, separation on favored routes) but with enough meaningful caveats (stiff hips, difficulty with contact both at the catch point and while running routes) that he will likely struggle at least at first in the transition to playing against NFL defenses. And would appear to be better served running as a secondary threat with a somewhat limited route tree, rather than the primary target role he played in college.

Keon Coleman (lateral oriented posterior dominant) is one of the youngest draftees in this class and is still transitioning from a basketball background. As such he is one of the rawest highly-drafted prospects in the class, with a profile that reflects this rawness. Coleman shows high level thoracic efficiency, and a system that is generally oriented around these thoracic areas (which can be seen via his low waist line). However, even in his preferred medial lumbar areas, Coleman does not show great efficiency as yet. In fact in general, Coleman does not show great lumbar efficiency overall, whether it be due to some level of underdevelopment (Coleman’s medial posterior lumbar areas), or simple lack of maturity/ training time (likely due to age/ background). As such, Coleman does not show very high level short area control/ quickness, and his straight line speed/ burst appear noticeably subpar. Coleman did not appear to generate a great deal of downfield separation in college, relying instead on his large catch radius and reasonably strong hands to make downfield contested catches. Coleman however does show quite a bit of biomechanical slack for continued development/ technical tightening, and his raw unrefined athleticism can be seen via his high level run after catch ability. Additionally, Coleman shows well developed lateral posterior lumbar areas (capable of increased future efficiency) and makes reasonably sharp cuts/ changes of direction for someone who is still in such a raw state overall (and in combination with Colemsn’s high levels of thoracic efficiency/ independence, gives him some nice wiggle/ burst in the intermediate areas). In general, Coleman seems likely to struggle in transitioning to NFL level play, other than some RAC, intermediate, and contested catch production. But he shows the capacity to grow into a quality secondary target over time, even if it seems that he will be unlikely to rise above complementary player status early in his career.

Adonai Mitchell (medial centric posterior dominant) shows the sort of profile that is generally quite rare but of which there appear to be several in this year’s draft. Specifically, Mitchell shows the (usually) rare combination of superlative straight line speed, soft hands, and good size/ height. However, unlike several of the other receivers who show this combination this year, these appear to be Mitchell’s only noteworthy strengths. While Mitchell runs very fast in a straight line (due to apparently high level medial posterior lumbar efficiency), he does not show much short area quickness/ control (without particularly high anterior lumbar efficiency), nor does Mitchell appear to change directions particularly sharply. Furthermore, Mitchell doesn’t show much independence between anterior thoracic/ lumbar areas (although he does show soft hands and a reasonably large catch radius), and his upper body control also does not appear to be particularly noteworthy. Mitchell does change directions powerfully for more rounded cuts, and there are downfield routes he can run effectively. And having landed in the perfect spot with a downfield oriented QB in Anthony Richardson, Mitchell may become very productive at times in an important downfield role. But his lacking anterior lumbar efficiency/ independence likely precludes his rising above complementary receiver status over time, even in Indianapolis.