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2024 NFL Draft Prospect Comparison: Xavier Worthy vs. Brian Thomas Jr.

Xavier Worthy - Fantasy Football, Rankings, NFL Draft Sleepers, Injury News, Wide Receiver

The 2024 NFL Draft is fast approaching. This draft is known already for the depth with the wide receiver prospects, as big names like Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze are at the top of the class.

Those aren't the only big names, though. This is one of the deepest wide receiver classes in recent memory, with 10-plus guys who can make an early impact in the NFL. Fans should expect to hear a lot of wide receivers get their names called during the first and second rounds of this year's draft.

Let's compare Xavier Worthy and BrIan Thomas Jr. and figure out which is a better NFL prospect between the two fastest wide receivers from this year's NFL Combine.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Who is Xavier Worthy?

Xavier Worthy played three seasons for the Texas Longhorns. He burst out of the gate as a freshman, catching 62 passes for 981 yards and a career-high 12 touchdowns. His numbers were down as a sophomore, but Worthy had a great junior campaign in which he caught 75 passes for 1,014 yards and five scores. That performance prompted Worthy to forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft.

A lot of the hype about Worthy is about his speed. He can stretch the field with the best of them.

As you can see in the clip above, Worthy can do a lot when he gets the space to work with. On this play, the defense is giving Worthy a huge cushion at the line of scrimmage, which is...well, not what a defense should be doing. QB Quinn Ewers slings out the little screen to Worthy, who is able to find the right seam to get by his primary defender. From there, it's a foot race to the end zone between him and anyone who dares try to go out and tackle him. None of them do, and Worthy's gone for six points.

I mean, look -- this is a guy who broke the Combine record for the 40-yard dash. He's going to make some really impressive plays in the NFL. It also helps that he's shown he's a good route runner, which should help ensure he's able to get the ball in optimal spots.

The downside with Worthy is that he's small. The 5-foot-11 receiver weighs just 165 pounds, so there are definitely circumstances where that'll come back to bite him. Can he consistently win against press coverage in the NFL? What if he's matched up with a taller defender? There are a lot of situations where that size can be a hindrance.

Of course, we said the same thing about Tank Dell last year, right? And before he went down with a season-ending injury, Dell was proving that in the right scheme, a small, skinny, and fast guy can still have massive success. Worthy needs to fall to the right spot, but he definitely has tremendous upside.

 

Who is BrIan Thomas Jr.?

LSU's Brian Thomas Jr. was relatively quiet over his first two collegiate seasons, but he had a breakout season in 2023, catching 68 passes for 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns. Those 17 scores came on a team that also featured Malik Nabers, who had 14 touchdown receptions.

Thomas is another exceptionally fast wideout. Not quite Xavier Worthy speed, but his 4.33 40-yard dash at the Combine ranked ranked second among all wide receivers in 2024. He'll be able to run by a lot of NFL defenders and make plays in the vertical passing game.

As far as size goes, MockDraftable has Thomas in the 77th percentile among wide receivers for height, 67th for weight, and 89th for wingspan. Compare that to Worthy, who is 27th percentile in height, first percentile in weight, and 26th for wingspan.

The 6-foot-3 wideout has good acceleration, allowing him to get off the line well and find space. He's not the most physical guy, but he has the build to play more physically. Thomas also has some route-running stuff to work on, though that's something that can pretty easily be fixed at the next level.

Thomas could be a monster in the NFL, a fairly big-bodied receiver who can burst down the field and use his speed to create big plays. He could also struggle to really harness that speed and wind up as someone whose route-running issues hamper his upside.

 

Comparing Worthy and Thomas

Worthy and Thomas are most exceptionally fast wide receivers, but that's about where the similarities end, unless you want to include the need for improvement in physicality as something they share. Worthy's better at route running and likely will utilize his speed more effectively out of the gate, while Thomas has the better build and has the ability to be a No. 1 outside receiver. Worthy's size kind of limits him from developing into that kind of role.

I hate to bring the same comparison up again, but Worthy's path to an NFL career is to do what Tank Dell did last year. He needs to come into camp ready to show improved physicality while also taking advantage of the things that he's best at. Thomas, meanwhile, has to show he can learn the NFL playbook quickly and get sharper in his routes.

Thomas definitely has a more clear path to NFL relevance, which is why he's viewed more and more as the consensus No. 4 receiver in this class. The issues he has are much more easily fixable than Worthy's, since growing a few inches isn't really a practical path to improvement.

Worthy is still a borderline first-round pick, though, and should be viewed as a high-upside play. Sure, the size concerns are real and he has to bulk up if he's going to contend with the physicality of the NFL, but you can't teach speed. Worthy's got speed out of the wazoo.

Look for Thomas to be drafted in the mid-to-late first round in this year's NFL Draft, while Worthy is more likely to hear his name called early in the second round.



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