Malik Nabers NFL Mock Draft scouting report: How LSU WR compares to Justin Jefferson, Ja’Marr Chase

Malik Nabers will be the latest dazzling big-play wide receiver out of LSU to be selected in the first round of the NFL Draft. He’s expected to be an easy top-10 overall pick, likely top five, on Thursday night.

Nabers will be trying to match former LSU superstar Ja’Marr Chase, who the Bengals took No. 5 overall in 2021 to pair with Joe Burrow. He will be long gone before No  22 overall, where the Vikings stole Justin Jefferson in the 2020 draft.

Because of Nabers’ pedigree and promising future, there will be natural comparisons to those two former stars in Baton Rouge, even though Nabers played in a different offense with a different Heisman Trophy-winning QB.

How good is Nabers, and can he match the immediate, elite NFL success of Chase and Jefferson? Here’s breaking down his scouting report in relation to them.

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Malik Nabers draft scouting report: Best NFL comps for LSU WR

Size

Nabers measured at 6-0, 200 pounds. Chase was just about the same size in the draft process at 6-0, 201 pounds. Jefferson was a little taller at 6-1, but he came in at 202 pounds.

Although Jefferson has shed a few pounds to come under 200 pounds for the Vikings as a young veteran, it’s clear that Nabers’ physical frame is almost a clone of his predecessors. 

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Big-play ability

Chase was off the charts stretching the field during his final season playing for LSU in 2019 as Burrow’s go-to guy, averaging 21.2 yards per catch with 20 TDs. Also that season, Jefferson averaged 13.9 yards per catch with 18 TDs Jefferson.

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Chase exploded as an NFL rookie, averaging 18 yards per catch in 2021 before defenses worked to contain him as a deep threat. Jefferson has averaged 15 yards per catch over his four seasons in Minnesota.

Both receivers have taken over games by dominating downfield with massive target volume. Nabers averaged 17.6 per catch finishing up his LSU career 2023, suggesting he will have the same kind of impact getting deep and bursting well after the catch in open field.

Fight for the ball

Beyond the obvious speed and quickness, Nabers also has the toughness and agility to come through downfield on his routes. He battles cornerbacks well for the ball using his strong hands, body positioning, and leaping ability to win vs. tougher coverage.

Chase and Jefferson have become incredibly difficult covers because in reality, the way they go after the ball makes them always open with just a little separation. Nabers has the same rare qualities.

Versatility

Nabers, like Chase and Jefferson, can be an asset either as a traditional No. 1 on the outside or a schemed-open No. 1 from the slot. Jefferson was a key slot playing off Chase at LSU, but now he runs more than three-fourths of his routes on the perimeter. That’s about the same rate for Chase as a Bengal.

Nabers was used in the slot for Daniels often, with 57 percent of targets coming from there. He also was used interchangeably when outside as an “X” or “Z” receiver in 11 personnel.

Chase and Jefferson both take advantage of Rams-like systems, as their respective offensive-minded coaches, Zac Taylor and Kevin O’Connell, came from the Sean McVay coaching tree in Los Angeles. The Titans (Brian Callahan) and Falcons (Zac Robinson) would be ideal correlated landing spots, but Nabers is unlikely to last to No. 7 or No. 8 overall for those teams.

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Nabers will thrive wherever he goes because, like Chase and Jefferson, there is negligible difference between his floor and ceiling. In drafts that didn’t have Marvin Harrison Jr., Nabers would be the easy top wideout off the board. He won’t waste much time trying to catch up to Chase and Jefferson one of the league’s best young receivers.

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