Could a Wide Receiver Be Selected First Overall in the 2024 NFL Draft?
In recent years, there has been a trio of positions that own the No. 1 overall pick in NFL Drafts: quarterback, offensive tackle, and EDGE. In fact, no other position has been selected first overall in any of the past 27 NFL Drafts from 1997-2023. The last player to be taken first overall that didn’t play any of these positions was WR Keyshawn Johnson in 1996, being selected first overall out of USC by the New York Jets.
In 2023, we saw three quarterbacks taken within the first four picks once again, and seven of the top 10 picks were used on QB, EDGE, or OT. However, is there a chance that we could see a new position take over that top spot next spring in 2024?
Since 2016, only two receivers have been selected with top-five picks: Corey Davis and Ja’Marr Chase. With how chock-full of talent the receiver position has gotten in recent years, NFL teams have not been forced to use a ton of draft capital on it. That being said, there is one player in the 2024 Draft class that fans should be keeping an eye on as the fall approaches, and that player is Marvin Harrison Jr. out of Ohio State.
Harrison was one of three players in all of FBS during 2022 to be targeted 100+ times and earn a receiving grade of 89.0 or better from Pro Football Focus. He did this while playing against some of the toughest defenses in the country within the Big 10 conference, recording 77 receptions for 1264 yards and 14 TDs over 13 games played. In the CFP game against Georgia, the Ohio State receiver had five catches for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Former Vikings GM Rick Spielman recently spoke about the receiver’s talent as well for The 33rd Team, saying,
“I think Marvin Harrison is a unique receiving draft prospect that rarely comes along. You know, when you watch the tape at Ohio State, you see all the great receivers…the more you watch, and you’re trying to evaluate the guys coming out in this year’s draft, your eyes gravitate toward watching Marvin Harrison Jr. He’s got unique size. I think he is so smooth as an athlete.”
Harrison certainly looked like the best player on the field during many occasions this past season, and he absolutely has a chance to be the next receiver taken with a top-five pick. But can he break the 27-year streak and be a first overall pick. Here’s Spielman’s answer to that:
If it wasn’t for the quarterback class with Caleb Williams, he may be the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s draft.
By no means does this answer mean it’s a done deal that Williams should be the top pick over Harrison. Last spring, many folks were hyping Tyler Van Dyke out of Miami as a potential top selection in the 2023 Draft before a disappointing season sent him back to school for another year. Williams still has to have another strong year to fully secure that top pick in next year’s draft.
There are also other QBs to be wary of from the 2024 group, namely Drake Maye out of North Carolina, Michael Penix Jr. out of Washington, and even Quinn Ewers out of Texas.
We are still 11 months away from the 2024 Draft wrapping up, so there will undoubtedly be plenty of change over the months as next April comes closer. However, it appears Harrison may be the best chance that we’ve had in awhile of a receiver potentially cracking the top of the draft board.
Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho and managing editor of PurplePTSD.com. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.