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Mel Kiper Jr. calls Xavier Worthy a 'nightmare' to defend

On3 imageby:Suzanne Halliburton04/02/24


xavier worthy nfl draft
Ricardo B. Brazziell / USA TODAY NETWORK

The big three receivers seem to be locked in stone for the NFL Draft, with all likely going in the top 10. But Mel Kiper Jr believes Xavier Worthy should be right behind them when teams start picking wideouts.

It took Worthy a shade longer than four seconds to place himself in first round NFL Draft contention this time a month ago. By running a record-breaking 4.21-second 40 at the NFL Combine, the former Texas Longhorn forced scouts to debate whether a wafer-thin receiver should be taken so highly mainly because of his swift feet.

The top three need no debate, except for the order in which teams take them. Early in the first round, Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze will hear their names called. The drama will be which receivers are amongst the next three.

Kiper, the ESPN NFL Draft guru, has an idea of where Worthy will fit.

“I think it will be either right where Brian Thomas Jr from LSU is, are slightly ahead of Brian Thomas Jr,” Kiper said this week on his First Draft session. “After we talk about the big three, Okay … He can be … that that next guy. You can’t teach or coach (a player to have) speed.

xavier worthy nfl combine
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Then Kiper suggested the questions scouts are asking themselves now as they view the Worthy game tapes.

“When you have a guy like this — can he control his speed? He can control it,” Kiper said. “Is he consistent catching the football? Yes, for the most part. He had a broken hand and he had some drops two years ago with that (broken hand) late in the year. When he’s healthy, he is a fear factor player. (His) 4.21 speed translates to the field. You can get him on jet sweeps, reverses, get him in space, move him around and he is a nightmare to try to corral in the open field.”

Kiper says it’s OK, in Worthy’s situation, to look past his 165-pound physique.

“Would you like him to be 175? 180?” he said. “Yep, OK. But what you have here is a guy who will give you a great attitude, great approach. He is tough.

“I watched this kid on tape … and he’s a guy who doesn’t shy away from contact.,” Kiper said about Worthy. “You wish he would a little bit, protect that body at 165. But he’s a tough kid. We know how tough Malik Nabers is, right? Xavier Worthy is right behind him. So I love the kid I think people will knock him for being 165. Fine. I think you’d make a strong argument after the big three, he’s next in line. You also have his return ability. You are going to get production with this kid (because) you can utilize him in a lot of different ways.”

Field Yates, another ESPN NFL Draft analyst, doesn’t like Worthy quite as much as Kiper. Yates said he ranked the former Longhorn somewhere between 30 and 39 of the top overall players.

“It’s the body type,” Yates said. “There are just so few players who have thrived and excelled at 165 pounds. I believe strongly, about this … Xavier Worthy needs to go somewhere where he’s not expected to be the number one wide receiver, in short order. … There are some teams that are picking pretty high that need a number one wide receiver.

“I think Xavier Worthy would be better suited to be a number two wide receiver in a capable, thriving offense. When you get into the 20s (of the first round) there are a bunch of teams that already have that number one pass catcher that could really use some help. But (it’s) at that number two or number three complementary spot.”