Player Spotlight: LSU WR Malik Nabers

Nabers accounted for more than 1,500 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns in 2023.
Nabers accounted for more than 1,500 yards receiving and 14 touchdowns in 2023. / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Name: Malik Nabers
Position: Wide Receiver
School: LSU
Age (Draft Day): 20
Height/Weight: 6'0", 200 lbs


A former four-star recruit out of Louisiana, Nabers decided to stay home and play for LSU. He stuck around despite a coaching change that saw Brian Kelly take over the program. Along the way, he ended up putting himself into the same conversation as the elite receiver prospects that came before him. Nabers ended up surpassing all of them, setting the LSU all-time receiving record. We've seen how prolific Ja'Marr Chase and Justin Jefferson have been in recent years. Nabers figures to be the next in line to take the NFL by storm.

The moment you turn on Nabers' tape, his speed will jump out at you. However, unlike some of the deep threats we have seen come out in recent years, Jalen Reager, KJ Hamler and Jalen Hyatt all come to mind, he is a well-rounded receiver who can be a true No. 1 target in an offense. He put up eye-popping numbers during his true junior season, hauling in passes from Heisman-winning quarterback Jayden Daniels while forming one of the best receiver duos in the country with Brian Thomas Jr. In an offense full of playmakers and stars, Nabers is the best of the bunch and seems set to be a star.


Speed: Few players alive display the effortless speed that Nabers can unleash on any given play. He can run past and away from defenders with ease. His presence forces defenses to adjust, rolling safety help his way or playing off coverage. He can take the top off the defense at any moment.

Acceleration: Nabers has frightening top speed, but what might be even more impressive is how quickly he can reach it. When he turns the corner or he finds an opening, he jets past defenders and makes them look foolish for the angles they take in his pursuit. He can throttle up and down the tempo of his routes depending on the coverage he is facing.

Yards-after-catch ability: Much of Nabers' ability as a playmaker with the ball in his hands comes from his incredible athletic gifts. However, he is also willing to take on contact and runs hard through arm tackles. He keeps his legs churning for extra yardage and protects the ball well. He will be a massive threat on screens, jet sweeps and other manufactured touches at the next level.

Hands: What sets Nabers apart from so many other supremely athletic receivers is that he also has great hands. He catches the ball away from his body and displays the ability to adjust well to the ball in the air. Nabers still has the occasional concentration drop, but they are few and far between.


Route running: Consider this more room for improvement than truly a weakness. In fact, Nabers excels in creating separation in his routes because of his excellent burst. However, his routes are not always especially crisp and his route tree while playing at LSU was fairly limited. Jayden Daniels threw outside the numbers on a vast majority of his snaps, so we did not get to see Nabers work over the middle as much as many other receivers in this class. It is something I believe Nabers will quickly learn at the next level, but something he has to learn nonetheless.

Footwork: Nabers takes some false steps in his release. His quick feet and change of direction mask the issues, but he definitely can get off the line and into his routes faster. Nabers also slips while running routes or looking to pick up yards after the catch. Not all the time, but enough to be noteworthy. Improving his footwork should resolve those issues.

NFL Comparison: D.J. Moore

Moore is one of the best playmakers in the league with the ball in his hands. He ranked eighth among receivers in 2023 in yards after the catch in the league. He is also capable of taking over games, evidenced by that 230-yard, three-touchdown performance this past year against the Commanders. Moore and Nabers have a similar body type as well. I could see Nabers having a lot of success in a similar role to the one that Moore has thrived in since reaching the NFL.

NFL Draft Outlook: Top 10 pick

In any other draft, Nabers would be the first receiver on my big board. There is a lot of buzz that Nabers still is the top receiver in this draft for a number of teams despite Marvin Harrison Jr. also coming out this year. It is hard to envision a scenario where Nabers makes it past the Bears at No. 9, much less the Jets at No. 10. He could wind up being the first non-quarterback selected in this draft class.

Grade: 92