The 2024 NFL Draft Class has the potential to be one of the better classes we’ve seen at the top. Of course, the headliners are the QBs, with USC’s Caleb Williams and North Carolina’s Drake Maye getting all the accolades and hype for being the potential top picks in the class.
However, the best player in the 2024 NFL Draft class regardless of position isn’t a quarterback, it’s Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr. Yes, the son of Indianapolis Colts legend Marvin Harrison is finally draft eligible, and for my money, he’s the top player in the 2024 class. We can look at the numbers, sure. In 2022 Harrison Jr. had 77 catches for over 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in a loaded wide receiver room that included first round pick Jaxon Smith-Njigba and Emeka Egbuka. Yet, Harrison Jr. was the best of all of them.
So, what makes Harrison Jr. the preliminary best player in the 2024 draft class? Well, let’s hop into what makes him special.
Grace and body control + athleticism
Harrison Jr. is listed at 6’4 and 205 pounds, and he’s about as long and wiry as they come. His long arms allow him to extend way outside of his frame to make catches, turning 50-50 passes into 60-40 balls in his favor. The ability to line up as a true X (the wide receiver normally isolated by himself in 3×1 formations) and win against the best competition consistently makes him the best receiver in this current draft class and the top overall player.
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Marvin Harrison Jr. made one of the most ridiculous catches I have ever seen in person last season against Michigan State
— The Victory Bell (@VictoryBellOSU) August 15, 2023
However, he’s not only a big jump ball receiver. He has the speed, agility and most importantly the body control to win at every level of the field.
Here, he’s lined up against Penn State cornerback and future first rounder Kalen King, and he effortlessly just glides right past him, separating vertically and creating a big play down the field.
Marvin Harrison Jr. active hands to swat away Kalen King’s hands while he is in press man. Harrison Jr. is able to stack him and come down with the catch pic.twitter.com/IRgUKZaDqT
— Tyler Browning (@DiabeticTyler) November 2, 2022
Among all pass catchers with 30 targets as the isolated X receiver, Harrison Jr. finished third in first down rate, meaning 88.5 percent of the time Harrison was targeted, it resulted in a first down.
The grace and body control he operates with as a larger receiver is something that really isn’t seen as often in larger receivers entering the draft. Harrison Jr. has received comparisons to AJ Green, and they’re apt. His ability to be such a sudden and smooth mover at that height is rare, and makes him a true game changer at the wide receiver position.
I know it’s been said before, but Marvin Harrison Jr. being this fluid and sudden of a mover at *checks notes* 6’4 is so impressive pic.twitter.com/SHWz5kv9K2
— JP Acosta (Pug Dederson Stan Acct) (@acosta32_jp) August 2, 2023
Technical prowess as a route runner
Harrison Jr. is a very clean route runner at his size. His ability to sink his hips and make cuts laterally is awesome to see. Against Iowa, he won on multiple whip routes, where the receiver runs inside then quickly bursts back to the outside. Harrison is able to do this like a smaller receiver, despite being a lot larger.
Watching Iowa CB Cooper DeJean, and came across this rep from Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr.
6’4″, 205-pound receivers should not be able to sink this much on whip routes. Just an absurd talent. pic.twitter.com/DOUyDGzpXu
— Ian Cummings (@IC_Draft) June 1, 2023
I mean, it’s impressive watching him make catches outside of his frame and be able to keep his entire body inbounds to move the chains. His footwork and coordination at that size make him special, and extremely difficult to defend. His ability to go over the top of you, while also being able to beat you on the in between routes makes him the best player in this upcoming draft class.
Consistently breaking off coverage cushion, creating separation, shows his sideline footwork on the 2nd catch.
— Devin Jackson (@RealD_Jackson) October 24, 2022
Now, Harrison isn’t a perfect prospect. I think he can improve in his ability to create after the catch (329 yards after the catch per Sports Information Solutions, 80th among all college football pass catchers). He’s not the best receiver in that category, and Ohio State didn’t ask him to do that very often; SIS doesn’t track Harrison Jr. with any routes run or targets from the slot. You would like to see him be more versatile, but with how good and successful Harrison Jr. is from the outside, it doesn’t have to be his specialty.
What we do know about Harrison is this: he is a truly dominant boundary receiver, potentially entering the draft with more guys who were slot only or No. 2 receivers. Harrison Jr. is an alpha outside receiver who’s game looks like it can translate easily to the next level.