Xavier Worthy

WR Notes: Allen, Bolts, Colts, Bills, Browns, Falcons, Jets, Panthers, Saints, Bears

Nearly dealt to the Texans, Keenan Allen will soon team with D.J. Moore on the Bears. Only Malcom Floyd enjoyed a longer WR tenure with the Chargers, who surprised Allen (per ESPN.com’s Kris Rhim) by requesting a pay cut after a 1,243-yard season (career-high 95.1 per game). The process that ended with Allen shipped to Chicago for a fourth-round pick stunned the 11-year veteran, whose camp presented the Bolts with a counteroffer that would have made the 31-year-old talent one of the NFL’s highest-paid wideouts. The team quickly rejected that proposal, Rhim adds.

Cutting Mike Williams to move under the cap, the Chargers had already restructured the deals of Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. The team asking Allen for a pay cut despite moving well under the salary ceiling surprised the wideout’s camp, per Rhim, though the Bolts wanted more room to work in free agency. Because of a 2023 restructure, Allen was due to count more than $34MM on Los Angeles’ cap. The Bears, who paid Allen’s $5MM roster bonus shortly after acquiring him, have the six-time Pro Bowler on the books at $23.1MM. As of now, Allen is due for free agency in 2025.

Shifting to the draft, here is the latest wide receiver news:

  • The Bills and Colts are taking a close look at this draft’s fastest player. Xavier Worthy recently visited Buffalo and is now in Indianapolis for a meeting, Bleacher Report’s Jordan Schultz tweets. Blazing to a Combine-record 4.21-second 40-yard dash, Worthy is coming off a 75-catch, 1,014-yard season. The ex-Texas speedster added 12 touchdowns as a true freshman in 2021. Buffalo certainly needs receiving help, after losing Gabe Davis in free agency and trading Stefon Diggs to Houston, while Indianapolis has been Michael Pittman Jr.-dependent for a while. The Colts did see intriguing rookie-year work from Josh Downs (771 yards), but the 5-foot-8 wideout profiles as a slot player.
  • Georgia wideout Ladd McConkey has now met with the Browns and Falcons, according to NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport. McConkey has spoken with at least 14 teams, Rapoport adds. Several teams have placed a first-round grade on McConkey, who also fared well in his Combine 40 (4.39). The 5-foot-11 target took a backseat to Brock Bowers at Georgia, never eclipsing 800 yards in a season. While McConkey totaled 762 in 2022, that number came in 15 games. Debuting late because of a back injury last season, McConkey finished with just 30 catches for 478 yards. Viewed as a strong route runner with untapped potential, McConkey could be an outside or inside option for his NFL team.
  • The Jets, Panthers and Browns are among the teams to have hosted Oregon wideout Troy Franklin on a “30” visit, NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo tweets. Franklin had previously met with the Bills and Patriots. Franklin broke through for a 1,383-yard season alongside Bo Nix last year; the 6-3 target should be on the radar as a second-round pick in this deep WR class.
  • The Saints are the latest team connected to Western Kentucky target Malachi Corley, Rapoport adds. Corley will make a Saturday trip to New Orleans for a “30” visit. The Saints made an effort to trade up in last year’s first round but did not make a major investment at receiver in the draft. They have since signed Stanley Morgan and Equanimeous St. Brown, but considering the Michael Thomas release, it would not surprise to see New Orleans make a bigger move in the draft. Corley is expected to be a second-round pick.
  • Bears GM Ryan Poles has broken the front office and coaching staff into pods debating the merits of choosing a wide receiver, tackle or defensive end at No. 9, ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin notes. This makes for an interesting behind-the-curtain look for a team that has done some work on wideouts pre-draft. Worthy, Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze appeared on Chicago’s docket of “30” visits. Odunze or Nabers being available at 9 would certainly be tempting for the Bears, though the Allen trade provides the team some flexibility following Darnell Mooney‘s free agency exit.

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.

Bears Set To Host Top WRs, DE On Monday

We already heard today that the Bears are bringing in LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers for a “top 30” visit this Wednesday. Now, Kevin Fishbain of The Athletic informs us that Chicago plans to host Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and Texas speedster Xavier Worthy, as well. Both wideouts are set to be at Halas Hall tomorrow and will be joined by UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu.

The Bears’ most pressing concern for the 2024 NFL Draft is obviously at quarterback. With only Tyson Bagent and Brett Rypien on the roster at the position, it has become a foregone conclusion that the Bears will use the first of their two top-ten picks (and the first overall selection of the draft) on USC passer Caleb Williams. This week’s visitors, though, provide a bit of insight into what the team is planning to do with their second pick of the draft, the ninth pick.

Nabers makes sense as a target if the team intends to sit pat and select in the ninth position after drafting Williams. There’s a chance he may not make it that far, but with a run of quarterbacks expected in the first four picks and teams in the next four picks having needs that aren’t wide receiver, it’s not insane to believe that Nabers may drop to ninth overall. Harrison, on the other hand, will not be around that long. As the top wide receiver available in this year’s draft, according to nearly every ranking, Harrison likely won’t be available after the fifth or sixth pick. If Chicago is seriously considering adding Harrison to the team, they will need to trade up to get him.

Targeting Worthy and Latu provides the alternate opportunity to the Bears. Both players are seen as mid- to late-first-round picks, so it could actually really benefit the team to trade back, as Chicago may have two top-ten picks, but their next selection after that doesn’t come until the 11th pick of the third round. Adding a top receiver or edge rusher with a second first-round pick while bringing in a bit more draft capital by trading back could be a perfect storm for the Bears.

It’s clear that adding a third wide receiver is a priority in Chicago, though. With top returning receiver D.J. Moore now paired up with Keenan Allen, a third top wideout could give the Bears their best receiving corps in a very long time. Both Nabers and Worthy would provide a level of speed to the passing attack that could easily take the top off any defense already covering Moore and Allen. Harrison hasn’t been officially timed, but there are few (if any) facets of his game that are a demerit on his draft stock. Latu, on the other hand, with 23.5 sacks in his final two collegiate seasons, could pair nicely opposite Montez Sweat in their efforts to meet at the quarterback.

Trading up for Harrison would be difficult but could be worth it to bring in a potentially generational talent at receiver. Staying pat won’t cost them any more than they’ve already given, and adding Nabers would be a great compliment to their current corps. And trading back while still being able to add a day one contributor like Worthy or Latu could work wonders for their pick totals. Regardless, it’s clear that the Bears are making an effort to bring in even more weapons for their presumed 2024 starter under center, Williams.

Cardinals Rumors: Brown, Moore, Humphries

The Cardinals are open to trading the No. 4 overall pick in next month’s draft, a move which would net them additional high-end draft capital while still allowing them to select one of the best wide receivers in a class full of receiving talent. And given that Arizona has parted ways with Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore this offseason, the club’s need for multiple pass catchers to support quarterback Kyler Murray is particularly glaring.

Here’s the latest from the desert, starting with a couple of notes on those recently-departed wideouts:

  • Brown ultimately signed a one-year, $7MM contract with the Chiefs, a deal that includes an additional $4MM in incentives. “Hollywood” had previously expressed interest in re-signing with the Cardinals, and Mike Jurecki of Arizona Football Daily confirms that Brown indeed hoped to return to Arizona even as he was garnering league-wide interest. However, the Cardinals never attempted to match or better KC’s offer, so the speedy wideout will work alongside Patrick Mahomes & Co. as he eyes a lucrative multiyear pact in 2025.
  • Moore, meanwhile, was traded to the Falcons, and he will apparently welcome the change of scenery that the Kirk Cousins-led outfit will provide. Despite working with two different play-callers over his first three professional seasons, Moore felt he was not given enough opportunities in the vertical passing game and ran too many horizontal routes, as ESPN’s Josh Weinfuss details. Moore will also be eligible for free agency in 2025, and while there are a number of talented skill position players on Atlanta’s roster, the soon-to-be 24-year-old could become a key ancillary target in a high-upside offense.
  • Even if the Cardinals select a top-tier WR prospect like Marvin Harrison Jr.  or Malik Nabers, the club could certainly add another receiver or two later on in the draft, especially given their need at the position and the strength of this year’s class. To that end, as Jurecki notes, the team recently scheduled a “30” visit with Texas WR Xavier Worthy, who set a Scouting Combine record with a 4.21-second 40-yard dash and whom NFL.com draft guru Daniel Jeremiah referred to as a taller version of Brown. The Colts also have a visit scheduled with Worthy.
  • Earlier this month, the Cardinals released OT D.J. Humphries, who had spent his entire career with the club since being selected in the first round of the 2015 draft. Financially, the release was an easy call for GM Monti Ossenfort, as Humphries tore his ACL at the end of the 2023 campaign and is therefore uncertain to play in 2024, when he was due to carry a $22MM cap charge. Emotionally, however, Ossenfort called the move “brutal,” saying, “the salary cap and the way things are set up and the way contracts work, it put us in a very tough situation. I can’t say enough about how I feel about D.J. as a football player and moreso as a person. His energy, and the leadership he brought to this team, we are certainly going to miss him. I hope nothing but the best for him in his recovery and his rehab” (via Darren Urban of the team’s official website).
  • The Cardinals added Jonah Williams in free agency this year and drafted Paris Johnson with the No. 6 overall pick in last year’s draft, and they are still rostering veteran Kelvin Beachum. Nonetheless, Ossenfort left to the door open to a Humphries reunion once Humphries’ rehab is complete.
  • Ossenfort has been busy fortifying his defensive line this offseason, adding Bilal Nichols, Justin Jones, and Khyiris Tonga in free agency. Nichols and Jones landed notable multiyear deals, while Tonga signed a one-year, $1.75MM accord, per CardsWire’s Howard Balzer. Still, Ossenfort thinks highly of Tonga and cited his size and the strength of his performance near the end of his tenure with the Vikings as reasons for his belief that the former seventh-round pick could carve out a meaningful role in the desert.

Texas WR Xavier Worthy Sets Combine 40-Yard Dash Record

Records are meant to be broken, and we just saw John Ross‘ seven-year record for the 40-yard dash fall. Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy set NFL history today. After watching Worthy deliver the day’s top 40 time of 4.25 seconds on his first run, the internet took notice. Worthy decided to challenge Ross’ record and ended up besting his first run with an unofficial time of 4.22 seconds, tying Ross’ long-standing record. Matt Miller of ESPN was the first to report Worthy’s official, record-breaking time of 4.21 seconds.

Top 40 times have been a mixed bag over the years. Sprint times like that don’t typically take a relatively unknown prospect and turn them into a first-round pick, but rarely does speed like that not improve a player’s draft stock. Players already seen as Day 1 picks may climb a little further up the board. Fringe top prospects could push their way into the first round. Mid-round prospects could work their way up to Day 2, late-round up to mid-, and undraftable prospects either sneak their way into the late rounds or became priority free agents.

The previous record-holder fell into that first group. Already considered a top wide receiver prospect following a redshirt junior year at Washington that saw him catch 81 passes for 1,150 yards and 17 touchdowns, Ross found himself getting selected in the top 10 draft picks. Injuries and an inability to crack the starting lineup in Cincinnati hindered Ross’ first two years in the league, though he proved effective as a redzone target in his sophomore season, catching seven touchdowns. He had a career-high of 506 receiving yards the following season, but ultimately, his rookie fifth-year option was declined, and after a one-year stint with the Giants and a futures deal with the Chiefs, the speedy receiver announced his retirement this past November.

Worthy falls into the second category of the prospects listed above. ESPN’s Mel Kiper lists him as the ninth-best wide receiver prospect in the draft, while Dane Brugler of The Athletic slots him in as the 10th-best wideout and the 46th-best prospect overall. In theory, that would land him securely in the second round of this year’s draft. With today’s record-setting performance, there’s a chance that some teams may be sliding him up their draft boards. It may not be enough to move him into Day 1, but if he interviews well and satisfies in other workouts, he could earn himself a fifth-year option.

Worthy proved in his first two seasons with the Longhorns that he could score, catching 21 touchdowns over the two-year span. He lost some touchdown catches to teammate Adonai Mitchell in 2023, with Mitchell snagging 11 touchdown grabs, but Worthy led the team in receiving yards and receptions every year he played in Austin. Mitchell is widely expected to be a first-round selection this April, and after today’s strong showing, Worthy may just join him there.

WR Xavier Worthy Declares For 2024 NFL Draft

Not long after falling just short of a national title game appearance, Xavier Worthy has decided to turn pro. The Texas wideout announced he has declared for the NFL draft (video link).

Worthy enjoyed a highly productive three-year run with the Longhorns, establishing himself as a major part of the team’s offense as a freshman. He posted 62 catches for 981 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2021, demonstrating his potential and securing multiple school records along the way. Over the following two seasons, Worthy remained a notable contributor to the team’s attack.

The 6-1, 160-pounder took a step back statistically in terms of receptions and yards last year, but he still managed to find the end zone nine times. In 2023, he rebounded with a 75-1,014-5 statline. Those totals helped him earn first-team All-Big 12 and third-team All-American honors while contributing to Texas’ conference championship. Despite a quiet showing in the Sugar Bowl (only 45 yards scoreless yards on two catches), he is one of many wideouts on the first-round radar.

Worthy’s decision to forgo his senior season puts him alongside the likes of Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State), Malik Nabers (LSU), Rome Odunze (Washington) and Keon Coleman (Florida State) as receivers likely to hear their names called on Day 1 of the draft. Worthy is ranked 25th on The Athletic’s consensus big board (subscription required). Likewise, the speedster is slated at the No. 19 spot in ESPN’s Matt Miller’s latest mock draft.

In a draft dominated by blue-chip prospects at the quarterback, receiver and offensive tackle positions, Worthy could find himself being selected behind a number of other offensive prospects and pass-catchers. Still, his big-play ability and potential shown in terms of yards after catch ability will make him an intriguing addition to any interested NFL team. He should be able to make an impact at the pro level as a rookie and for years to come after that.