LSU might have found their next star wide receiver with Malik Nabers. Nabers’ ability to manipulate his speed both early and late in his routes sets him apart from his peers and could potentially pave the way for a successful NFL career. However, like any prospect, he also faces challenges that need to be addressed for his potential to fully flourish at the next level. Here is my evaluation of Nabers.
40 time (estimated): 4.45
Malik Nabers’ acceleration and seamless gear-shifting ability make him a nightmare for defenders. On tape, it’s clear that Nabers’ play speed is outstanding, enabling him to create separation and beat coverage consistently. This was particularly evident in his performance against Georgia during the SEC title game, where he showcased his explosive release and breakaway speed. Nabers torched Georgia with 5 receptions for 128 yards and a touchdown, according to CBS Sports.
Nabers’ toughness shines through, especially when faced with press coverage. His competitive ball skills allow him to win contested catches and come down with receptions even in tight coverage situations. This allows quarterbacks to put their trust in him and it’s why he is LSU’s go-to receiver in clutch moments.
Nabers’ ability to locate the football mid-stride and adjust without losing momentum proves his great ball-tracking skills. This skill set is the reason why Nabers has the potential to become a very reliable deep threat in the NFL, along with his great speed.
He has complete trust in his hands and does a fantastic job playing the ball in the air. He knows exactly when to time his jumps and has an innate awareness of when to turn back toward his quarterback if a pass is underthrown. Nabers has all of the required physical abilities to become a true number-one receiver at the next level.
While Nabers has tons of potential, consistency over a full season is his biggest red flag. In his 2022 campaign, Nabers’ displayed a tale of two halves. During the first 10 games of the season, he averaged just over 50 receiving yards per game, according to ESPN.
During that 10-game stretch, Nabers had very few explosive plays. It was only in the final four games, including a standout performance against Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, that he truly showcased his capabilities. He averaged a little more than 122 yards per game over his last four games.
Nabers’ late-season surge could be partly attributed to quarterback adjustments and settling in. Still, some NFL scouts have expressed that they are concerned about his ability to maintain a high level of performance throughout an entire season.
The NFL demands players who can consistently deliver on the field, and Nabers must demonstrate that he can sustain his productivity over the long haul and not be limited to flashes of brilliance. His potential in the NFL hinges on his ability to address this aspect of his game.
Projected NFL Outcome
Malik Nabers enters the 2024 NFL draft with a tantalizing skill set that has the potential to make him a first-round pick. His acceleration control and route-running set a strong foundation for success, making him a candidate to develop into a reliable deep threat and a favorite target for quarterbacks.
Nabers’ need for consistent production throughout an entire season cannot be understated. NFL teams will be closely monitoring his performance in the upcoming season to assess whether his late-season surge was a sign of his true capabilities or a temporary spark. If he builds on where he left off last season, he could secure his place as the second-best wide receiver in the draft, after Marvin Harrison Jr.