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Why Rome Odunze is a slam-dunk WR target for NY Jets

Rome Odunze, Getty Images

Rome Odunze’s film displays why he would be a fantastic pickup for the New York Jets

Rome Odunze has been a hot name in recent New York Jets mock drafts, and it’s not surprising why. The real question is whether he will be available at pick No. 10 when the Jets are on the board.

The thought of Aaron Rodgers throwing to Rome Odunze, Garrett Wilson, and Mike Williams has to be a dream for Jet fans. It remains to be seen if he will be available at 10 and whether Joe Douglas prefers to take an OT or a WR with that selection. The Jets could also consider trading up for Odunze.

In the meantime, let’s make it clear how absurd of a prospect Odunze is.

Odunze caught an unbelievable 21-of-28 contested targets in 2023, a 75% (!) success rate. For reference, Chris Godwin led qualified NFL wide receivers with a 59.3% (16/27) contested catch rate last year. Odunze’s 75% success rate is miles ahead of any other first-round WR prospect.

In addition, Odunze only had three drops on 92 catches and 140 targets. This is especially impressive with all of the contested opportunities he had.

Odunze lined up wide on 81.8% of the snaps at Washington in 2023. He averaged 2.93 Y/RR, which ranked 16th out of 102 WRs in 2023.  Rome also led the FBS with 1,639 receiving yards in 2023, including an FBS-high 783 receiving yards on deep passes. Odunze also tied Brian Thomas Jr. for the FBS lead with 12 touchdowns on deep passes.

Rome is unreal in 50/50 ball situations, and while it may seem redundant to add him to the Jets’ WR group because of Mike Williams’ contested catch ability, this is a pick that will give the Jets an elite WR tandem for years to come, while also having a positive impact on their push for a title in 2024.

Odunze is primarily a boundary WR but he also works the middle of the field well. On top of that, he is an underrated route runner, as he runs the complete route tree. Above anything else, what really stands out is his insane body control, ball tracking, and elite release package against press coverage.

I went back and watched every single target Odunze got in 2023. Here are some reps that stood out to me.

Rome Odunze film

This rep is a perfect example of how elite Odunze’s ball tracking is. Texas is in quarters coverage, and Rome is running a post at the top of the screen. The ball would and should be more toward the middle of the field, but Rome gets his head turned early and sees that Penix is leading him upfield. He seamlessly changes the direction of his route, bending it upfield, and tracks the ball for the reception through contact. Unreal rep.

Another rep that is stupidly impressive, and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Rome is running a seam route here and beats the DB right away with elite speed. Penix sees the MOF safety so he throws Rome open to the corner of the EZ. The intelligence of Rome to see this early is remarkable. He then shows the athleticism to do a complete turn over his outside shoulder, finally finding the ball and finishing through the ground for the touchdown. As elite of a rep as it could get from Rome.

He isn’t just elite at contested catches and ball tracking. Rome has a lot of route running savvy as well. Here in the RZ, he is singled up with the DB. He puts a double move on the DB, who bites on the slant just for Rome to speed past him on the go for the easy pitch and catch touchdown.

He also has great vision and good YAC ability. Here on the tunnel screen in the RZ, Rome does a great job letting his blocks develop.  Then, he breaks the first tackle and powers through two other defenders to get in for the TD.

Here, Rome is running a deep post route with the Huskies backed up. Not the best acceleration on the route as the CB is playing top down, but Penix sees one one-on-one and wants to give Rome the chance. In Mike Evans-esque fashion, Rome pulls in the 50/50 ball with ease, showing elite high-pointing ability even with the CB draped on his back. Helluva catch.

Does this look familiar? Just such a smooth adjustment to the back shoulder throw from Penix with Odunze singled up against a DB.  Rome easily contorts his body to make the catch against the sideline. Rodgers would love another elite back-shoulder WR to target in single coverage.

Lastly, another 50/50 ball, this time in the RZ. It’s single coverage and Penix knows he’s going to Rome. Not the best ball on the fade route, but Rome has elite strength to make the catch through contact. It’s almost a back-shoulder jump ball as Rome has to stop his route and play through contact, but no problem for him as he makes the catch and rips the ball away from the DB for the score.

The Huskies used Rome everywhere. Tunnel screens, shallow crossers, go balls, fades, stop routes, deep comebacks, you name it. And Rome rewarded them by putting up the most yards in the FBS last year.

Odunze is as polished of a WR prospect as I can think of in recent years. Sometimes he could be quicker in and out of his breaks, and he gets pushed around in press coverage a little bit. But those are the only two real knocks I have. He is a complete player with a real chance to be a WR1 for any team that drafts him. I would love him at 10 for the Jets.

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1 month ago

It doesn’t matter how many great receivers a QB can target when he is flat on his back or being chased by a 300-pound lineman within 2 seconds every time he drops back to pass. The OL comes first, then the receivers.