Adonai Mitchell

AFC South Notes: Colts, Nabers, Texans, Jags

The Colts‘ wide receiver room includes two starters acquired before Shane Steichen‘s arrival — Michael Pittman Jr., Alec Pierce — and the team made a three-year, $70MM commitment to its No. 1 target in March. Steichen is starting to put his stamp on the WR room, however, with the Colts having drafted Josh Downs in last year’s third round and Adonai Mitchell in this year’s second. As Chris Ballard continues to run Indianapolis’ draft, ESPN.com’s Stephen Holder notes Steichen “strongly advocated” for Mitchell in the second round.

Mitchell is unlikely to stroll into a starting spot early, as Holder adds the Texas product will be expected to begin training camp as the top backup behind Pittman, Pierce and Downs. But the ex-Longhorns standout’s draft slot (No. 52) suggests he will be heard from early in his career. The Colts have seen mixed results from their second-round WRs under Ballard, with Pittman shining and Parris Campbell struggling to stay on the field. Pierce (No. 53 overall in 2022) has eclipsed 500 receiving yards in each of his first two seasons. A Georgia transfer, Mitchell blazed to a 4.34-second 40-yard dash at the Combine. Although he only topped 450 receiving yards in one college season (2023, with 845 and 11 touchdowns), plenty will be expected from a Colts team that has struggled with receiver depth for most of Ballard’s GM tenure.

Here is the latest from the AFC South:

  • Staying on the WR topic, the Titans had a contingency plan in the event one of the teams above them at No. 7 zagged. The Giants were seemingly down to QB or WR at No. 6 throughout the pre-draft process, but a post-draft report suggested they were also eyeing Joe Alt. The Chargers were both connected to Alt and JC Latham at No. 5. In a scenario in which targets Latham and Alt were off the board, ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler notes Malik Nabers would have been the Tennessee pick at 7. A Nabers choice would have left the OL-needy Titans less equipped up front, and Latham filled a bigger need. The team has since signed Tyler Boyd to team with outside targets DeAndre Hopkins and Calvin Ridley.
  • The Colts are changing some of their rookies’ positions ahead of their first NFL offseason programs. Ballard said fifth-round pick Jaylon Carlies will move from safety to linebacker, with the Indianapolis Star’s Joel Erickson indicating fifth-round safety Jaylin Simpson is sliding from safety to cornerback. Simpson has CB experience but moved to safety while at Auburn. Before Day 3 investments, the Colts did not address the cornerback position beyond Kenny Moore‘s re-signing. This leaves some uncertainty here — particularly on the outside.
  • Third-round Colts draftee Matt Goncalves spent his college career at left and right tackle, but ProFootballNetwork.com’s Adam Caplan notes the rookie will be given time at guard this offseason. The Day 2 pick will compete for a backup job as a rookie, per Holder, as it appears Indy is planning to keep its low-cost starters (Bernhard Raimann, Will Fries) in place alongside veterans Quenton Nelson, Ryan Kelly and Braden Smith.
  • The Texans will make an adjustment at a key front office post. The team did not renew director of pro personnel Ronnie McGill‘s contract, KPRC2’s Aaron Wilson notes. McGill followed GM Nick Caserio from New England in 2021; the Texans had promoted him to the director post in 2022. Teams regularly make scouting adjustments post-draft, and a notable Texans hire will be on tap.
  • A scouting veteran of more than 30 years, Tom McConnaughey is retiring from his Jaguars post. The veteran staffer, who has been with the Jags since 2021, will leave after three years as a national scout with the team, InsidetheLeague.com’s Neil Stratton tweets. McConnaughey spent 26 years with the Chargers prior to moving to Jacksonville.
  • In addition to hiring A.J. Highsmith and Keenan Agnew, the Titans are adding Sam Summerville to their scouting staff. Summerville is expected to join the team as a national scout, per Stratton. The Bears recently parted ways with Summerville, a former Fritz Pollard Alliance scout of the year honoree, after 12 years.

Bills, Patriots, Cardinals Receiving Trade Calls

Like always, the teams at the top of the Day 2 draft order hold considerable leverage. In the case of 2024, that means the Bills are a team to watch closely as the start of second round approaches.

After trading down twice on Thursday, Buffalo owns pick No. 33. To little surprise, that has resulted in calls from suitors looking to move up the board, per Ian Rapoport of NFL Network. Receiver is a position of need and despite the run at the position late last night, a number of notable options are still on the board. That includes Texas’ Adonai Mitchell and Florida State’s Keon Coleman. Those pass-catchers are the two being considered by Buffalo, Sportkeeda’s Tony Pauline reports.

The latter does add, however, that the Bills have other receiver prospects they are comfortable with, meaning a third trade-down agreement could be worked out by general manager Brandon Beane. Teams eyeing some of the defensive prospects surprisingly still available could represent a logical trade partner. In that case, the Patriots (No. 34) and Cardinals (No. 35) would be worth monitoring.

Both New England and Arizona have also received interest, Albert Breer of Sports Illustrated notes. He, too, mentions Coleman as a prospect likely to hear his name called in short order. The Michigan State transfer had a strong Seminoles career, but his underwhelming 40-yard dash time at the Combine could help explain his stock taking a slight dip. He will nevertheless provide considerable size (6-3, 213 pounds) to his new team.

The Patriots turned aside overtures from the Giants and Vikings for the third overall pick last night. That cleared the way for Drake Maye to be selected, a move which leaves receiver as a position of need entering Day 2. The Cardinals likewise decided against moving down the board and drafted Marvin Harrison Jr. at No. 4. The team followed that up by adding edge rusher Darius Robinson 27th overall, filling another notable roster hole. Either staying in place again or adding extra capital would prove beneficial, so it will be interesting to see how many pick swaps take place at the top of the round two order.

Latest On Teams Targeting WRs In First Round

We know that the Steelers have been identified as a team that could be likely to trade for a veteran wide receiver this offseason, but what about teams looking for wide receivers in the first round? A lot of focus has been placed on teams looking to draft quarterbacks, per usual, but Jason La Canfora of The Washington Post provided us with the names of a few teams targeting pass-catchers on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft. La Canfora identifies the Cardinals, Bears, Colts, Bills, 49ers, and Chiefs as the likely suspects.

Some of these, we’ve heard plenty about already. At No. 4 overall, the Cardinals sit in the line of picks that are all expected to be quarterbacks, according to most mock drafts, meaning they are expected to trade down from the position. Many see them trading back to No. 6, allowing the Giants to select Daniel Jones‘ potential replacement. This would leave them in line to draft the class’s top receiver prospect, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. This could provide Arizona with a new top receiver after the departure of Marquise Brown to Kansas City.

This would require the Chargers to pass on wide receiver, a huge position of need after watching both Keenan Allen and Mike Williams depart this offseason. While it wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see Los Angeles select Harrison, new general manager Joe Hortiz (from Baltimore) has shown an affinity for Notre Dame prospects like Ronnie Stanley and Kyle Hamilton. Combine that with the addition of new offensive coordinator Greg Roman, and connections to Notre Dame offensive tackle Joe Alt make all the sense in the world. Roman’s run-heavy offensive mentality makes tackle a bigger priority than receiver in the first round.

Wide receiver has been seen as less of a priority for the Bears after they acquired Allen in a trade from the Chargers. Still, drafting a top receiver prospect like LSU’s Malik Nabers or Washington’s Rome Odunze could give projected new quarterback Caleb Williams a strong trio of targets with Allen and D.J. Moore. Chicago could pair the draft’s QB1 with a potential WR1 as ESPN’s Matt Miller tells us that there are some teams in the NFL who see Nabers and Odunze as better prospects than Harrison. The three receivers are closer than people may think on most draft boards and their order of preference could come down to scheme and fit.

In Indianapolis, the Colts would love to bring in a first-round receiver for second-year quarterback Anthony Richardson. Josh Downs and Alec Pierce were decent options behind Michael Pittman Jr., but having a true weapon across the field could really help both Richardson and Pittman. If Harrison, Nabers, and Odunze find their way off the board by the time the Colts select at No. 15, LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. could fall into their lap, though Odunze could still be available if nobody takes a flyer on him as the best player available regardless of position.

At the back end of the first round, wide receiver has become a big need for the Bills after they watched Gabriel Davis depart in free agency and traded away Stefon Diggs to the Texans. Khalil Shakir now leads the position room, and though the top four receivers aren’t expected to be available by the 28th pick, pairing Shakir with Texas’ Adonai Mitchell, FSU’s Keon Coleman, or Florida’s Ricky Pearsall could be productive.

As for the 49ers and Chiefs in the last two picks of the draft, San Francisco is a bit of surprise inclusion after recently paying Deebo Samuel and still currently denying that Brandon Aiyuk is available via trade. Still, if Aiyuk is potentially on the way out, taking flyer on Mitchell, Coleman, or Pearsall could work out.

As for Kansas City, they’ve tried their fair share of veteran free agent additions for Patrick Mahomes, and will do so again with the addition of Brown this offseason, as well as some draft picks in the second round or later. We’ve seen the Chiefs have success with smaller wide receivers with speed, so bringing in Georgia’s Ladd McConkey, Michigan’s Roman Wilson, or Texas’ Xavier Worthy could make a lot of sense.

Whoever doesn’t hear their name called on the first night of the draft shouldn’t have to wait too long. Dane Brugler of The Athletic’s latest mock draft showed the Panthers selecting McConkey with their first pick of the draft, which will be the first pick of the second round. If McConkey is already off the board, Wilson and Worthy offer similar skill sets.

It’s a deep class for wide receivers this year. Top prospects like Harrison, Nabers, Odunze, and Thomas are considered no-brainers as first-round picks. An early run on those four could see many of the pass-catchers behind them find their way into the first round, as well. Even so, there are nearly 20 wideouts with a projected third-round grade or better. Not only is this a wide receiver class with lots of talent up top, but talent throughout will benefit teams who need receivers but will have to target other positions of need first.

Prospect Profiles: Adonai Mitchell, Xavier Worthy

While LSU’s top-ranked duo of Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. have garnered plenty of press so far and Florida State’s duo of Keon Coleman and Johnny Wilson have seen a drop in their respective draft stocks, it might be time to shine a spotlight on the two receivers coming out of Austin who both have a chance to hear their names called on Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft (Washington’s trio of Rome Odunze, Ja’Lynn Polk, and Jalen McMillan may require a profile in the future, as well).

Junior Longhorns Adonai Mitchell and Xavier Worthy have a chance to be the first Texas receivers drafted in the first round of the NFL Draft since Roy Williams in 2004. This would also make Mitchell and Worthy the third and fourth first-round receivers for the Longhorns in their storied history (Lam Jones, No. 2 overall to Jets in 1980).

Texas hasn’t had the greatest history with sending wide receivers to the NFL. Since 2008, players like Limas Sweed (second round, 2008), Jordan Shipley (third round, 2010), and Collin Johnson (fifth round, 2020) have failed to make an impact at the NFL level. Third-round picks Marquise Goodwin (2013) and Devin Duvernay (2020) are really the only pass-catchers since Williams to make a name at the professional level, though Goodwin only has one season over 432 yards in an 11-year career and Duvernay’s biggest impact has been as an All-Pro return man. Mitchell and Worthy have a chance to change the trends of their school’s history at the next level.

Worthy was a top-100 recruit in the Class of 2021 out of Central East HS (California) in Fresno. After a breakout junior year, Worthy began fielding offers from college football’s best. Despite offers from Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, and others, Worthy committed to Michigan. He initially intended to enroll early alongside quarterback signee J.J. McCarthy, but trouble meeting Michigan’s academic requirements led Worthy to defer his enrollment until June. He still found an apartment in Ann Arbor, though he couldn’t work out with the team, but moved back home to explore other options after a month, decommitting from the Wolverines in the process.

Worthy had originally chosen Michigan over the Crimson Tide, who had then-offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian. When Sarkisian was hired as the Longhorns’ head coach in 2021, Worthy committed sight unseen. Worthy immediately made an impact as a true freshman, leading the team by healthy margins with 62 catches for 981 yards and 12 receiving touchdowns. The next highest totals were 26 catches (Jordan Whittington), 377 yards (Whittington), and four touchdown catches (Bijan Robinson). He finished as a Freshman All-American, first-team All-Big 12 selection, and Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

Worthy’s production dipped a bit as a sophomore as Whittington and tight end Ja’Tavion Sanders, who had redshirted in 2021, ate into some of his production. Still, Worthy led the team in catches (60), receiving yards (760), and receiving touchdowns (nine) while earning second-team All-Big 12 honors. It was more of the same last year for Worthy. Once again, he led the team in receptions (75) and receiving yards (1,014), but he was eclipsed in receiving touchdowns (five) by the newcomer Mitchell.

Mitchell was a rare situation of a high school reclassification. Where it’s common to sometimes see recruits reclassify to enter college a year early, Mitchell reclassified from the Class of 2020 to the Class of 2021 in high school, spending his gap year training. Growing up in the Houston area, Mitchell transferred from Westbury Christian School (Texas) to Ridge Point HS (Texas) in order to get more recruiting attention. Still struggling to garner offers, Mitchell followed his father, who moved to Nashville, and transferred to Cane Ridge HS (Tennessee) for his senior year before reclassifying to the Class of 2021.

Shortly after reclassifying, Mitchell committed to Lane Kiffin at Ole Miss. Six months later, though, as the offers continued to roll in, Mitchell flipped to Georgia and then-offensive coordinator Todd Monken. He joined the Bulldogs as a three-star recruit, the 60th best wide receiver in the class, according to 247Sports.

As a freshman, Mitchell was part of a balanced wide receiving corps. While tight end Brock Bowers led the team in every receiving category, Mitchell’s stat line of 29-426-4 (catches-yards-touchdowns) was very similar to then-sophomore Jermaine Burton (26-497-5) and redshirt freshman Ladd McConkey (31-447-5). Mitchell also caught the go-ahead touchdown in the team’s National Championship victory. In his sophomore season, Mitchell was limited to only six games with a left ankle injury. He had nine catches for 134 yards and three touchdowns.

While in school in Georgia, Mitchell’s parents had been looking after his daughter (born the summer before his freshman season). After winning two championship rings with the Bulldogs (and missing most of his sophomore year), Mitchell opted to transfer closer to his family by enrolling at Texas. In his lone season as a Longhorn, Mitchell finished second on the team behind Worthy with 55 catches for 845 yards but led the entire Big 12 conference with his 11 touchdowns.

Mitchell and Worthy present as two different types of receiving options coming out of Austin. At just over 6-foot-2, 205 pounds, Mitchell is a bigger target with a wider catching radius. Mitchell doesn’t sacrifice speed or explosiveness for his size, though. At the NFL scouting combine, Mitchell put up a 4.34-second 40-yard dash, a nearly 40-inch vertical jump, and an 11-foot-4 broad jump. He has above-average acceleration to get him to that elite top speed and uses impressive agility and control in his routes to create separation with stutter routes and by lagging into open areas of coverage. He shows that extra gear when the ball is in the air and has good body control to make adjustments on the ball. When he’s not the quarterback’s target (he was not a high-volume target in college), he’s always looking for someone to block.

Mitchell will need to get stronger at the next level, though. With his lean form, Mitchell can get bullied by more aggressive cornerbacks. While he has a large catch radius, he has smaller hands and wasn’t elite at reeling in contested catches, though he only had one drop in 2023. He also got most of his yardage without the ball in his hands, only averaging 3.2 yards after catch this season, displaying a lack of ability to make tacklers miss as a ball carrier.

Worthy is a bit shorter than Mitchell at just over 5-foot-11. He’s also slight at just 165 pounds. Similar to Mitchell, Worthy had impressive explosiveness with a 41-inch vertical and nearly 11-foot broad jump. Elite speed is what defines Worthy and gives him a chance to be a first-round pick.

You’ll know the name “Worthy” because he broke the NFL scouting combine’s record for the fastest ever 40-yard dash a month and a half ago. Worthy covered the distance in a record-breaking 4.21 seconds. His speed will be his biggest asset at the NFL level. He has great agility to make cuts in his route-running and his speed makes coverage with a cushion a necessity, though often a futile one. He shows good ball-tracking on deep routes and has a good ability to make tacklers miss with start-and-stop jukes. While the smaller wideout can get knocked back at contact, his low center of gravity and strong balance helps him stay on his feet often.

His size will limit him at the next level, though. Despite his impressive vertical jump, he doesn’t show that ability on the field to climb the ladder for high throws. He doesn’t have a strong ability to make contested catches, either, and focus is often an issue that leads to drops, fumbles, and muffed punts.

Despite their weaknesses, both Mitchell and Worthy project as late-Day 1 or early-Day 2 draft picks. Mitchell has great speed with an ideal frame, provided he can put on some muscle. He also displayed a clutch gene in college, often making the biggest plays at crucial moments. His effort and athleticism will draw the attention of several clubs in the mid-to-late first round.

Worthy is much more of a specialty player at the next level, but that certainly doesn’t mean he can’t find success. He was already a second- to third-round projected pick, but his record-breaking speed may be enough to elevate him to the late-first round. Even if team’s balk at some of his shortcomings, Worthy’s speed and special teams prowess (he led the NCAA in punt return yards this season) guarantee him a draft selection in the first two days. Together, the duo will work to change the reputation of pro Longhorn receivers.

Latest On First-Round WR Prospects

The top of the 2024 draft board features an intriguing trio of wideouts (Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze). While the order in which they will hear their names called is in question, there will be other prospects at the position who are selected on Day 1.

In the case of many of the top options in that regard, the pre-draft process has resulted in positive developments. LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr.for instance, has long been ranked as a first-round prospect. The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman notes Thomas has impressed evaluators both on and off the field, something which will help his already high draft stock. The 6-3 junior posted 1,177 yards and an FBS-leading 17 touchdowns in 2023, flashing the potential to serve as a high-end secondary WR option (as he did playing alongside Nabers) at a minimum in the NFL.

Aside from the top four receiver prospects, several others have a strong chance of landing near the back end of the first round. Two candidates on that front are Texas’ Xavier Worthy and Georgia alum Ladd McConkey. Both of those wideouts have received first-round grades from a number of NFL teams, Tony Pauline of Sportskeeda reports.

Worthy broke the all-time 40-yard dash record during the 2024 Combine, posting a time of 4.21 seconds. Already known to be one of the top vertical threats in this year’s strong class, Pauline notes his Pro Day helped ease concerns about his all-around game translating to the pro level. In the case of McConkey, a faster-than-expected 40 time (4.39) has also helped his stock. Regarded as an elite route runner, the 5-11, 186-pounder will likely be destined to hold a slot role in the NFL but his floor is believed to be higher than most other prospects in the class.

Around the same time that Worthy and/or McConkey are selected, Adonai Mitchell could also very well come off the board. The latter spent his first two seasons at Georgia, making just 38 catches during that span. At transfer to Texas paved the way for a larger offensive role and a sharp increase in production, though; Mitchell posted 854 yards and 11 touchdowns on 55 receptions in 2023. Depending on how teams view him relative to other WR prospects in the same range, Mitchell could be the fifth wideout taken on Day 1.

Of course, a number of highly-regarded pass-catchers will still be available on Day 2. Pauline adds that Ricky Pearsall has seen his stock rise considerably in the lead-in to the draft. The Florida alum has received an early second-round grade from “several teams,” per Pauline and he could be one of many receivers added in the top 50 selections. As teams continue to evaluate the top options at every position over the coming days, receiver remains on track to be a very popular target throughout the top of this year’s draft.