One play helped LSU WRs Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas ‘earn a lot of money’ on path to NFL

One play helped LSU WRs Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas 'earn a lot of money' on path to NFL
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INDIANAPOLIS — Malik Nabers loves to play in the slot. The wide receiver finds it easier than lining up on the outside, primarily because he finds there’s a lot more room. And with a lot more room, there’s a lot more space when matched up against opposing cornerbacks.

And when he has a lot more space against opposing cornerbacks, he gets to run the slot fade.

And when he gets to run the slot fade, he tends to find the end zone.

“I made a lot of money on that route this year,” Nabers said Friday at the NFL scouting combine.

Nabers is about to cash in soon enough. In a matter of weeks, he’ll be one of the top 10 picks in the NFL draft. Until then, Nabers will have the chance to make even more money by convincing teams he should be selected as high as possible.

He finds himself in a loaded wide receiver class — one that includes former LSU teammate Brian Thomas — but he, Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr. and Washington’s Rome Odunze have separated themselves from the pack.

Based on film from his three years at LSU, Nabers has built a solid portfolio.

“If you look purely off of grade and not positional value … you could make a case those three highest-graded players in this draft are the three receivers,” The NFL Network’s Daniel Jeremiah said, later adding, “Nabers is a stick of dynamite. He is super, super explosive.”

No route demonstrated Nabers’ explosiveness more than the fade from the slot. The route was so effective for the LSU offense that quarterback Jayden Daniels said it was his favorite ball to throw to Nabers — and it was just as explosive for the Tigers when Thomas ran it.

Together, the trio of Daniels, Nabers and Thomas led the country’s top-ranked passing attack. Nabers and Thomas each topped 1,000 yards receiving and combined for 19 receiving touchdowns. They’re all projected to go in the first round — with Daniels and Nabers likely landing in the top 10, while Thomas is expected to go in the back half of the round.

Nabers and Thomas will have a chance to go from playing with one exceptional quarterback in Daniels to another. In Nabers’ scrum with reporters Friday, he was repeatedly asked about the possibility of playing with former USC quarterback Caleb Williams if the Chicago Bears take the signal-caller first overall and then use the ninth pick on a receiver.

Turns out, the two already have a relationship. Nabers said he talks to Williams “all the time,” saying they first formed a friendship over playing “Call of Duty” online.

“He always talks about how I’m a great receiver,” Nabers said of Williams. “I’m just waiting for that day to be called.”

Thomas could end up with Buffalo’s Josh Allen, Cincinnati’s Joe Burrow, Jacksonville’s Trevor Lawrence or Miami’s Tua Tagovailoa. Thomas confirmed he met with each of those teams. The Bengals would particularly be an interesting fit given Thomas said he models his game after Tee Higgins, whom Cincinnati recently gave the franchise tag.

At separate media sessions, Nabers and Thomas each served as the other’s hype man. Nabers called Thomas a “freak of nature,” one he realized was going to “be a problem” from the moment they were freshmen. Thomas used the same phrase.

“Malik is one of my best friends,” Thomas said.

Of the two, Thomas is more reserved. Take, for example, how they answered the question of who the best corner was they faced in 2023. Thomas, at first, paused, before naming Alabama’s Kool-Aid McKinstry.

Nabers took a different route.

“I wouldn’t say I went against any tough cornerbacks this season,” Nabers said. “Since I played, I went against six DBs a game. It’s hard to tell which one was actually good.”

The confidence shouldn’t come as a surprise. There’s a bravado to Nabers, who told reporters he’d be a black panther if he could be an animal because of the way the animal hunts in the dark. Beyond his words, Nabers’ confidence is reflected by the fact he elected to skip working out at the combine. He’ll instead perform for teams at LSU’s pro day later this month (March 29).

Nabers’ decision to skip the drills isn’t completely foreign. Harrison appeared to skip the combine entirely, while many of the top quarterbacks won’t throw.

Whether that’s something that might hurt Nabers’ draft stock remains to be seen. New Orleans Saints assistant general manager Jeff Ireland said it was “tough” to see players elect to skip workouts at the combine, but he added they usually end up doing them at a later date anyway.

Then again, if teams wonder how fast Nabers is, they just have to turn on the tape.

“When that ball is in the air, it’s mine,” Nabers said. “When I get the ball in my hands, I’m able to do tremendous things with it. Create space on different DBs and able to make explosive plays downfield. Take an 8-yard route and turn it into a touchdown.”

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About Marc Lemoine 1529 Articles
Marc is an Economist and a well experienced weightlifter who has won many championships. He intends to build a bright career in the media industry as well. He is a sports freak who loves to cover the latest news on sports, finance and economy.

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