Not So Fast
At first, you might think that Texas WR, Xavier Worthy, is nearly identical as a draft prospect to the last WR I just profiled, Michigan WR, Roman Wilson. Both of them are about the same height, both of them are extremely fast. Worthy is universally ranked higher than Wilson as a prospect, 9 out of 9 on the draft boards or mock drafts I looked at. Some prospects we've looked at have wide spreads in how they are viewed by draft experts. Not so with Worthy. Every expert has him ranked as either a late 1st rd guy or as a 2nd rd prospect. Since I gave Wilson a 2nd round grade, it would be natural to assume that I'll slide Worthy in just ahead of him, in the same range that all the experts have him listed. Not remotely close to being right.
Before we dig into the 2023 tape, it is worth mentioning 2 major points I made about Texas QB, Quinn Ewers, in a draft introduction I wrote about him prior to this season. First, Ewers struggled to connect on deep passes in 2022. His accuracy and timing tended to be off. Second, Ewers was plagued by an enormous volume of dropped passes by his WRs and TEs. Take a wild guess as to whether Xavier Worthy factored into both of those situations. There were times where Worthy could have had more yardage and TDs, but Ewers misses him and there were times where Ewers should have had more passing yards and TDs, but Worthy blows it.
I'll also note a key reason that I'm not high on Worthy, right off the bat. Look at his body. His legs are long relative to his torso. Worthy's body type is optimized to do one thing: run very fast in a straight line. It isn't good for making quick moves, change of direction and lateral agility. That's a bad thing in the NFL for a thin and undersized WR.
To understand why I have Worthy graded the way I do, watch some tape on former Texas WR, Marquise Goodwin, who was a 3rd rd pick in 2013. At the Combine, Goodwin ran 4.27 seconds in the 40. He had a 42'' vertical jump (he went to the Olympics in the long jump) and a 6.66 second 3 cone. IMO, Goodwin was a better NFL prospect than Worthy.
Goodwin had nearly 1,000 receiving yards in 2017 for the Niners, the first year that Kyle Shanahan was the HC. It was the only season that he had at least 500 rec yards. Apart from that one year, he was essentially Tavon Austin. The Niners gave him a nice deal after that 2017 season, but it proved to be a poor investment.
Why do all the draft experts like Xavier Worthy so much? Got me. I have no idea. I have him as a Day 3 prospect.
Name: Xavier Worthy. Turns 21 years old in April of 2024. True Junior.
School: Texas. Physical culture and sports major.
Size: Listed 6'1'' tall, 172 pounds. Was listed at 160 pounds as freshman.
4 star recruit from Fresno, CA. Flipped from Michigan to Texas. Made state track finals in 100 meters as a sophomore in HS, with a personal best time of 10.55 seconds and 21.41 seconds in the 200 meters. His 2020 track season was cancelled due to covid. Ran a laser timed 4.46 second 40 in HS. Recruiting profile listed DeSean Jackson as his pro comp.
Left ankle injury in 2023 conference title game vs OKST. Played with broken hand 2nd half of 2022 season. Lower leg injury vs TT (4th game of year) in 2022.
Hit 22.7 mph in GPS tracking in game in 2022.
2021: 62-981-12, 2 fumbles
2022: 60-760-9, 1 fumble. Dropped 7 passes.
2023: 73-969-5, 3 fumbles
7 career rushes for 56 yards. 3 career pass attempts. 2 KO returns. 39-551-1 punt returns, 14.1 career average, long of 74 in 2023. Had 21 PR attempts in 2023 with 17.0 yard average. 4 career tackles.
PFF 36th overall, 8th WR
PFN 44th overall, 9th WR (Dalton Miller 59, Ian Valentino 31, Ian Cummings 47th)
Steve Shoup 21st
Buffalo Fambase 32nd
NFLMDD 35th, 7th WR
Shane Hallam mock draft 31st overall
Luke Easterling mock draft 57th
Josh Edwards (CBSSports) 32nd
Very young. Currently only 20 years old.
Has good arm length relative to his overall size.
Crazy fast long speed. Opens up space for other WRs by drawing attention from deep S.
Kiss him goodbye in the open field once he hits full speed. You have no hope of catching him. Give him a lane where he can turn on the afterburners and run in a straight line and it can quickly turn into a TD.
Raced past CB, split 2 DBs, but Ewers is off target with deep ball, ruining likely long TD bomb.
Tracked ball on deep post and made over the shoulder catch. Had other nice deep catches where he tracked the ball well.
Can set up and beat CBs with double moves to get behind them.
Caught comeback routes after getting the CB to back off and give him a cushion.
Energetic competitor. Not afraid of contact. Can stiff arm opponents.
Has some spring in his legs, like a track and field high jumper.
Maintained concentration on deflected ball to make catch.
Lines up both left and right of formation, outside and in slot. Lined up as HB at times and released out of backfield for passes.
Adequate vision as runner. Will take on defenders as runner and go directly into them. Sometimes switches the ball to appropriate hand in open field.
Productive. Nearly 1,000 yards in 2 of his 3 seasons in college, with no redshirt.
Has punt return experience. Might be a decent ST player on multiple units, because he's fast and isn't afraid of physical contact, so maybe he could be a gunner on punt coverage.
Leggy, long strider. Loses balance when accelerating or dodging tackles, prone to slipping and falling. Has a high center of gravity. Route tempo sometimes not fast enough, which is odd for a WR who is supposed to be very fast, but that's what happens if you don't run hard, with full effort. Doesn't run clear out routes at full effort and proper tempo.
Doesn't explode off the LOS. Leggy start, takes time to get up to speed. Leggy in cuts.
Sluggish change of direction. Slow on pivot and jerk routes. Plays upright, doesn't sink his hips and explode out of breaks. Average body control. Gears down and loses balance trying to snap off routes. Dodged tackle, then slipped and fell down. Break point is not sharp. Slipped and fell making juke. Leaks speed and momentum if he tries to weave or juke when he runs.
Not a shifty runner. Not instantly elusive after the catch or when he fields a punt, which limits his ability to escape tackles at a critical moment, so he's not overly dangerous with YAC, despite his speed. His very first step in a start/stop situation is not powerful or explosive.
Has no bulk or running power. Caught pass on 4th down, but stuffed short of end zone, unable to drive through defenders and score.
Doesn't craft the route well, angle of his break is not detailed. Drifts on simple underneath routes, doesn't attack the ball back towards the QB to defend the catch point. Fails to win at the catch point, resulting in PBUs. Quick slant route, the WR drifts away from the QB, allowing the CB to reach around him and contest the catch point.
Doesn't create good separation or leverage. CBs stay glued tight to him and run in his hip pocket. Xavier Worthy is an example of why speed by itself doesn't allow a WR to separate from the CB.
Bland releases, not deceptive, doesn't win at LOS. Body is too upright on release, exposing chest. Gets ridden and rerouted by jams, sent off course on his route. Gets hung up on jams and delayed getting off LOS. Not deceptive in his stem, unable to create leverage or separation. Transparent fakes not effective at top of route. Upper body not coordinated with lower body, so fakes aren't deceptive. Doesn't properly stack the CB behind him.
Unreliable hands. Poor hand eye coordination and ability to track the ball, then place his hands to meet the location of the ball. Wildly bobbled very simple smoke screen. Double catch on slant route. Several other double catches. Terrible drop in end zone, pass right on his hands. Dropped high pass, reaching up for catch. Multiple times, Ewers dropped gorgeous deep balls right into the bucket and Worthy had ugly drops to ruin TDs. Doesn't high point the football. Below average effective catch radius. Struggles to adjust to off target throws. Notable dropped passes each of his 3 years in college. Having a broken hand in 2022 didn't cause all his drops, because when you miss the ball and allow it to go through your hands, it doesn't matter if your hand is broken or not, you're not going to make the catch. Hands sometimes too far apart, doesn't frame the ball properly. Doesn't actually catch the ball some plays, he just traps it against his body, the ball ricochets off his hands or arms and is crooked or loose. Over the shoulder catch, the ball nearly dropped completely through his hands, but he grabbed the very back of the ball and brought it in. Odd play where he knocked the ball out of his own grasp with his other hand.
Gets system production, with WR screens and catches underneath with manufactured space. Easy RPO catches. Only a few plays where he beats man coverage and generates his own separation.
Ball swings low when he runs, not tucked tightly to his body. Has 6 career fumbles.
Not sudden or particularly elusive as a punt returner. Has long speed, but benefits from blocks and room to accelerate. Let punt bounce that he should have caught.
His PFF season grade in 2023 is the same as WRs that PFF ranks as late rd to UDFAs on their draft board.
Lousy, terrible blocker to the point of being nearly useless. Poor effort. Very weak play strength. Doesn't try to sustain blocks or defend angle. Very lazy getting to blocking angle, often just walking and not running, allowing the defender to cleanly run past him. Habitually late to adjust his assignment. Poor effort blocking downfield, including one time preventing long TD. Doesn't look for work, relaxes and takes plays off blocking. Patty cake block on S, lets him go by to tackle the RB. RPO, the WR sees that it is a run and not a pass, but doesn't even try to block his CB, he just stands and watches. WR is supposed to block the S, but the RB cuts to the outside and the S runs laterally to pursue, so WR stops in the middle of the play and doesn't do anything, even though if the RB had cut back towards the middle of the field, there might have been an opportunity to block the S and spring a big run. Xavier Worthy is so lazy as a blocker that it borders on being incompetent. He does this even in a very tight game. Got rag dolled and thrown to side. Pathetic and feeble effort to throw his shoulder into S.
Coverage rotation on run play, WR doesn't adjust, lets S run by him to tackle the RB. Counter run, a nice lane is developing for the RB, the WR doesn't block the S, who chops down the RB. On 2 plays I watched, WR blatantly misreads the defensive formation and blocks the wrong player, allowing an unblocked defender to tackle the RB, including on a short 3rd down run. Relaxes on his block at POA, allows CB to slip past him and tackle the RB short of the 1st down marker. Over and over, it is unbelievable how many run plays WR messes up in their games by not doing his job blocking.
Two poor plays by Worthy on the same drive prevented his team from scoring a TD. First, on a long run by the RB, the WR gets lazy on a simple stalk block, doesn't keep hands on the CB, allowing the CB to run down the RB from behind and make TD saving tackle. Great lesson for kids not to assume that your block doesn't matter, just consistently do your job and don't assume anything. Then in RZ, he's the 4th read in the progression. QB doesn't like the initial reads, so comes all the way across the field and looks at Worthy, but WR didn't even try to run a route, he's just standing there, not doing anything, even though there is plenty of space for him to have tried to slip inside of the CB, so QB has to eat the ball for a sack. Kids, don't assume that your route doesn't matter, do your job consistently and you might get the ball for a TD. Team has to settle for a FG, where if WR just gave 20% more effort (instead of virtually zero) and done the little things properly, they could have had a TD. Xavier Worthy is a coaching teach tape for what not to do on the field.
What is his position? He doesn't have the size to play outside WR. He doesn't have the agility or athletic traits to play inside as a slot WR. How are you supposed to use him in an NFL scheme?
Comes across as immature and lacking in football knowledge in interviews. I question whether he even watches NFL football based on his answers. Does he really know how to study game film and improve his technical skill? Some college players, they just play, they aren't really students of the game.
Draft Grade and Pro Comp
4th round grade. (Danny Gray, compensatory 3rd round 2022, Niners, SMU)
In March of 2022, I wrote a draft profile about Gray. At that time, virtually every board and simulator had Gray ranked as a 5th to UDFA prospect. I often drafted him for the Rams in the late rounds in draft simulators.
The only expert at that time that had a higher grade/projection on Gray was Lance Zierlein. In terms of the actual draft, LZ was right about Gray and everyone else was wrong. LZ isn't right about everything, but one reason I read his profiles is that for whatever reason, he seems to be plugged in with NFL scouts/FO people and has a pretty good pulse on how teams actually feel about certain players. His radar isn't on 100% of the time, but it sure feels like he's a better predictor of actual draft projections than most other draft experts.
While I really liked Gray as a late rd flyer type pick, I still only gave him a 6th round draft grade. I said that he had a low floor, but that he had dangerous deep ball potential. Nearly everything I said about Gray is very similar to what I just wrote above about Xavier Worthy. If there is one notable difference, it was that Gray had instant acceleration off the line, while Worthy takes more distance and time to get up to full speed. Other than that, the 2 WRs are very similar.
As a rookie, Gray was a preseason star. It didn't carry over to the regular season. He only had one catch for 10 yards in 2022, with 1.4 yards per target. He went on IR in 2023 with a shoulder injury and it is notable that the Niners haven't activated him, despite him returning to health. Essentially, they don't need him, they don't want to use a roster spot on him, so they are just stashing him. So, to this point in his career, Danny Gray has contributed essentially nothing to the Niners. He might as well have been an UDFA. Not a very productive 3rd rd selection.
Roman Wilson and Xavier Worthy are only similar on a very superficial level. If all you looked at was Relative Athletic Scores, combine 40 measurements, height and weight, you might think that they were nearly identical. They aren't. Roman Wilson does almost every "small thing" on the football field extremely well. Xavier Worthy does almost every "small thing" on the field poorly. Roman Wilson has sudden quickness and agility that translates to being a slot WR. If I were an OC, my mind would dance with different play designs I could dream up to use Wilson. Xavier Worthy is like trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. What can you do with him other than have him run a bunch of vertical routes? He's not a particularly versatile player. In college it works, because to be frank, many college defenders are garbage. If all you needed to succeed in the NFL was pure speed, Tutu Atwell would be an All Pro right now.
IMO, Tutu Atwell and Xavier Worthy are on a similar tier as draft prospects. I hated the Atwell pick, so it really shouldn't come as any surprise that I don't think the Rams should target Worthy early in the 2024 draft.