NCAA Football: Michigan State at Ohio State

Quarterbacks are clearly the NFL's, and every level of football's, most valuable position. That's not debatable.

Wide receivers, a quarterback's primary pass-catcher, aren't too far behind and definitely ranking inside the top five most valuable positions in the sport. The 2024 NFL Draft prospect rankings here at CBS Sports reflect that with nine wide receivers inside our consensus top 50 player rankings

Let's examine who those prospects are and where they could land in the 2024 NFL Draft. 

Team match: Cardinals (4th overall pick)

No one had more receiving touchdowns across all of college football over the past two seasons (28) than Marvin Harrison Jr., who enters this draft cycle as the clear-cut WR1. Harrison (6-foot-four, 2-5 pounds) has drawn comparisons to Larry Fitzgerald and Justin Jefferson early in the draft process. His talent will give Kyler Murray a much-needed top target. 

Harrison caught passes from C.J. Stroud and Kyle McCord in college at Ohio State, two passer who did most of their work from the pocket. Murray is much more of a dynamic scrambler than either of those two were in Columbus, Ohio, but Harrison is the best receiver prospect in a generation.

His footwork, change-of-direction, and ability to win at the point of attack on jump-balls and contested catches are what you would use in a lab if concocting an ideal receiving prospect from scratch. Even if a defensive back gets luck enough to stay with Harrison Jr. step-for-step, his length and strong hands allow him to corral the football even when it's thrown well away from his body. All defenders can do is pray and hope Harrison Jr.'s quarterback makes a mistake. Otherwise, the wideout makes the play. He is a virtual lock to be the first non-quarterback drafted in 2024. 

The Cardinals didn't get the top-flight wide receiver they were hoping for when they traded a first-round pick to the Baltimore Ravens for Marquise Brown, but Arizona provides Murry with a legit WR1 in Harrison with the fourth overall pick come April. 

Team match: Chargers (5th overall pick)

The Chargers will likely be in the market for another wideout after possibly needing to make tough salary cap decisions with wideout Mike Williams, who tore his ACL in 2023. Los Angeles selected TCU's Quentin Johnston (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) in the first round in 2023, and in 2024, they take a receiver with a different build in LSU's Malik Nabers (6-0, 200). 

Nabers is a killer after the catch. His blend of speed and lateral quickness in the open field leaves defenders laying down wondering where their ankles went. Nabers' 51 forced missed tackles leads all SEC wide receivers and ranks as the fifth-most among all Power 5 wide receivers since 2022. He seems to almost never go down on first contact, and Nabers is a master at finding the hidden yards each play. His ability to stop and cut on a dime downfield after hauling in a deep ball is special. Nabers' acceleration is high-end and makes it seem like he's being fired out of a cannon. Nabers' speed, agility, and tenacity with the football in his hands make him one of the best receiving prospects in the entire country. 

He was the most electrifying receiver in the nation last year, and Justin Herbert has one of the strongest arms in the NFL. Nabers will allow him to let it rip.  

Team match: Giants (6th overall pick)

No one had more receiving yards in college football last season than Washington's Rome Odunze. The New York Giants are starving for receiver production. The Giants last had a player rack up 1,000 receiving yards back in 2018. Odell Beckham Jr. capped his final year in the Big Apple with 1,052 that season. 

Odunze, standing at 6-3 and weighing 215 pounds, runs like a high-end sports car, adeptly gear-shifting from fast to slow and then back to fast in a hurry, and can provide immediate help to whomever New York has under center in 2024.  

Team match: Eagles (22nd overall pick)

Brian Thomas Jr. is massive, standing tall at 6-4 and weighing 205 pounds, and he used that frame well in 2023, leading the nation in receiving touchdowns with 17. LSU didn't have him run the full array of routes last season since he functioned as the Tigers' Robin to Malik Nabers' Batman, but Thomas was phenomenal going deep, averaging 17.3 yards per catch last season. 

The Eagles struggled to find a reliable third receiver after A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, which hindered what they were able to do through the air last season and certainly factored into their late-season collapse where they lost six of their final seven games. Thomas fixes those issues and provides Philly with an explosive trio of wideouts.  

Team match: Ravens (30th overall pick)

Coleman is the bigger-bodied target (6-4, 215) at wide receiver that Lamar Jackson needs. Coleman can line up anywhere, and he is a solid route runner with phenomenal knowledge of how to best utilize his body to maintain leverage against defenders. Coleman has an argument for being the best contested catcher in this class.

Coleman stylistically profiles to DK Metcalf: he's a great athlete, and he will be a red zone monster in the NFL. His presence alongside wide receiver Zay Flowers and tight ends Mark Andrews and Isaiah Likely will provide Baltimore enough firepower to hang with the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs in 2024. 

Team match: Chiefs (32nd overall pick)

Speaking of the Super Bowl champs, they could use some receiver help. The Chiefs' 2023 receiver unit led the NFL in drops (28) and drop rate (12%), according to SportRadar. The 2023 Big 12 Offensive Newcomer of the Year could make a major impact in Kansas City as a rookie. 

Mitchell led the Big 12 in touchdown catches (11) last season, showcasing his deep ball and red zone chops (he is 6-foot-four and weighs 196 pounds). He also had a knack for playmaking in the clutch, including a catch to keep the Longhorns' College Football Playoff hopes alive against TCU and another that kept them within reach of the Washington Huskies in their CFP semifinal. Mitchell's timely play is exactly what K.C. needs since it will continue playing in big spots for as long as they have Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes. 

Team match: Panthers (33rd overall pick)

The Carolina Panthers are desperate to find 2023 first overall draft pick quarterback Bryce Young some playmaking help for an offense that averaged the second-fewest points per game in the entire NFL (13.9). Oregon wide receiver Troy Franklin (6-foot-3,187 pounds) provides the dynamic ability to generate big plays deep with 17 catches of 20 or more yards in 2023. 

Eight of those went for touchdowns, the third-most receiving scores of 20 or more yards in the country last season among Power 5 receivers last season, trailing only LSU's dynamic duo of Brian Thomas Jr. (12) and Malik Nabers (10). Franklin also has the stop-and-start agility to accel on curls and comeback routes. His weight is a question mark, but new Carolina head coach Dave Canales has made lemonade out of lemons at his last two stops with the Seattle Seahawks and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. 

Team match: Commanders (36th overall pick)

If someone could use just one word to describe Xavier Worthy's game it would be speed. Any time the football is in his hands, he has the ability to take it to the house. Getting him out in space via screens, wide receiver reverse plays and horizontal runs puts defenses in a bind with his electrifying lateral movement and acceleration. 

His 571 yards after the catch in 2023 ranked as the sixth-most in the country among Power 5 receivers, a testament to how dangerous he truly is. Worthy is also capable of moving around the formation in the slot as well as out wide. Whichever quarterback Washington selects second overall in the 2024 NFL Draft could use more help to go along with Pro Bowl receiver Terry McLaurin. Worthy certainly provides an extra dose of playmaking. 

Team match: Titans (38th overall pick)

The Titans are short on reliable pass-catchers after DeAndre Hopkins. No other player on Tennessee could muster at least 600 receiving yards besides Hopkins, who totaled 1,057 yards. 

Second-year quarterback Will Levis could use a legit second option, so why not draft one of the quickest route runners in the draft in Washington's Ja'Lynn Polk (6-foot-2, 204 pounds)? He is strong with his shoulders to toss defenders aside, which he pairs nicely with polished route-running that manifests in quick cuts plus a lengthy catch radius. 

Polk could become a Levis favorite on intermediate routes over the middle, an area where any quarterback needs to thrive in order to keep defenses honest.