On Thursday, Rome Odunze hopped onto an Oregon Twitter space and threatened to return to Washington if the Ducks fans weren’t nice to him. While it was one of the funniest moments to come out of the Alabama coaching search, it turns out it was an empty threat.
Just one day later, Odunze, who finished the year with 92 catches for 1,640 yards and 13 touchdowns for the Huskies declared for the 2024 NFL draft, forgoing his final season of eligibility.
Odunze will is projected to be taken early in the first round, even in a draft loaded with wide receiver talent. ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. has the 6-foot-3 215-pound junior receiver as his fifth-best player in the entire draft and his No. 2 receiver, behind Biletnikoff Award winner Marvin Harrison Jr. of Ohio State.
Michael Penix Jr. can credit a lot of his breakout year to his dynamic receiving corps, but especially Odunze. The physical receiver's biggest strength was turning a 50/50 ball into about a 90/10 proposition in his favor.
Well, maybe more like 74.1/25.9 as he hauled in 20 of his 27 contest catch targets this season according to PFF. Those 20 contest grabs were the most in the country, three more than Rice wide receiver Luke McCaffrey and his contest catch percentage was the highest among receivers with at least 20 contested targets.
John Ross currently holds the distinction as Washington’s highest-drafted wide receiver. Ross went ninth to the Cincinnati Bengals in 2017 (as did Reggie Williams to Jacksonville in 2004) after breaking the combine record for the 40-yard dash. However, Ross last played in the league in 2021 and only made 62 career catches.
Odunze has a chance to be drafted even higher and will be the first of the Huskies trio of wide receivers to be selected. Ja’Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan both declared for the draft earlier this week.