SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 21: Rome Odunze #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on during warmups before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Husky Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)
SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 21: Rome Odunze #1 of the Washington Huskies looks on during warmups before the game against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Husky Stadium on October 21, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Rome Odunze Compares to Jets Legend Al Toon

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ANAHEIM,CA-CIRCA 1992: Al Toon of the New York Jets against the Los Angeles Rams at Anaheim Stadium circa 1992 in Anaheim,California. (Photo by Owen C. Shaw/Getty Images)

I know I’m dating myself when I compare Washington Huskies wide receiver Rome Odunze to former New York Jets wide receiver Al Toon.

However, that’s the name that kept going through my mind while watching Odunze on game film.

For the younger generation, Packers wide receiver Romeo Doubs is another good comparison, who I compared to Packers legendary wide receiver James Lofton, pre-draft.

Either way, Odunze is pretty darn good.

He’s also improved.

He was improved in 2022 when I put a second-round grade on him, but he was even better on 2023 game film.

Toon (517) ranks as the third all-time leading receiver for the Jets behind receivers Don Maynard (627) and Wayne Chrebet (580). Ironically, current Jets receiver Garrett Wilson has been ‘trying to recruit‘ Odunze (The Jet Press). I just can’t see how the Jets can do anything but draft offensive linemen with 40-year-old starting quarterback, Aaron Rodgers coming off season-ending Achilles surgery (because team GM Joe Douglas failed to draft an elite-level left tackle in the 2023 NFL Draft). But, I guess we’ll see.

Doubs has turned out to be a steal for the Packers (2022 fourth-round).

How did Odunze look?

CORVALLIS, OREGON – NOVEMBER 18: Wide receiver Rome Odunze #1 of the Washington Huskies catches a touchdown during the first half against the Oregon State Beavers at Reser Stadium on November 18, 2023 in Corvallis, Oregon. (Photo by Tom Hauck/Getty Images)

Enough with the comps, now let’s get to the good stuff, how Odonze looked on game film.

Smooth as butter.

He’s a classic No. 1 receiver lining up outside with the size and strength to fight through corners, but he can also slip into the slot pre-snap. Odunze has a sleek release, which enables him to achieve inside route leverage (meaning he can gain a positioning advantage against the cornerback he’s matched up against giving him a better chance to make the catch).

The thing that makes Odunze a problem for corners is his size (6-foot-3, 215 pounds) to play the ‘big man’s game,’ with the rare combination of hip fluidity of a smaller receiver to quickly change direction.

It’s not all ‘moonlight and canoes,’ however, as my two biggest criticisms are he can struggle to create separation and he has an average catch-radius.

He makes up for it with PHENOMENAL concentration, ball-tracking skills, and his hands are made of glue. I found myself saying, “Wow,” or “Damn” quite a few times.

Odunze is a natural catcher.

Here’s a look at his annual catch rate.

2020: 6 catches on 10 targets (60%)

2021: 41 catches on 72 targets (56.9%)

2022: 75 catches on 112 targets (66.9%)

2023: 92 catches on 132 targets (69.9%)

College career: 214 catches on 326 targets (65.6%).

Odunze better than Marvin Harrison Jr.?

Some believe Odunze is a better prospect in the 2024 NFL Draft than big-reputation receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State).

Unfounded thought?

According to ABC NEWS:

Odunze’s 44% contested catch rate was tied for fifth among players with at least 40 contested targets, well ahead of Harrison’s 32%. Odunze’s 20 forced missed tackles were well ahead of Harrison’s six.

#1 Rome Odunze 6-foot-3, 215 pounds

Daniel Kelly’s 2024 NFL Draft Grade: First-Round (I would select him)

Projected by 81.7% of the NFL Draft Community to be a first-round pick as of January 17, 2024 (nflmockdraftdatabase.com)

Is Huskies’ Receiver Rome Odunze a First Round Talent? (5 games evaluated in 2022)

Game film reviewed (2023): Oregon, Boise State, Arizona, USC, Utah, Oregon State, Tulsa, and Michigan State (click to view games watched to form this evaluation)

2024 NFL Draft Scouting Report

A dynamic athletic receiver who is a threat at all three route levels (short, intermediate, and deep). Dependable hands. Consistent improvement on the deep ball and YAC this season versus 2022. Strong proportioned frame. Good deep film Utah, Oregon State, and Michigan State. Quick choppy feet release and at breakpoints. Agile. Glides into secondaries with explosive sports car acceleration. Nice routes. Struggled achieving outside release route leverage or separation. Kills zone coverage ⎯nose for soft spots. Contested catch clinic versus Oregon. Flashed second gear at full throttle. Competitive YAC. Plays like football is important to him. Occasionally takes end around. Decent blocker.

Final words

Odunze looked like an All-Pro wide receiver on college film.

Daniel Kelly is a former NFL Scout with the New York Jets. He was hired on the regime which featured Bill Parcells, Bill Belichick, Scott Pioli, Mike Tannenbaum, and Dick Haley. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief for First Round Mock, contributes at Yardbarker, and has written for Sports Illustrated Lions, Jets, and 49ers, as well as a featured guest on ESPN Radio and Fox Sports Radio. For more information about him visit his website at whateverittakesbook.com. He can be followed on Twitter @firstroundmock.

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