The 2023 NFL Draft class might not have the talent as in years past, but there is a surprising amount of depth and upside to be found in the middle-to-late rounds. That’s right where Ole Miss WR Malik Heath hopes to hear his name called. While most of the conversation has been focused on the top names in the class, what does Heath’s scouting report suggest about his NFL Draft stock?
Malik Heath NFL Draft Profile
- Position: Wide Receiver
- School: Ole Miss
- Year: Senior
Heath was a stand-out receiver for Callaway High School in Jackson, Mississippi, where he averaged 24.3 yards per catch over his career. A four-star prospect, he was labeled the No. 1 player in Mississippi and the No. 22 wide receiver by ESPN in the nation. Unlike most high-ranked prospects, Heath played for Copiah-Lincoln Community College, where, in two seasons, he totaled 61 receptions for 835 yards and seven touchdowns in 17 games.
Having made a name for himself in JUCO, Heath was the No. 11 JUCU prospect — No. 2 in the state — and the No. 2 wide receiver by 247 Sports.
Heath joined Mississippi State in January 2020 and went on to see action in 21 career games for the Bulldogs over two seasons. Making nine starts at wide receiver, Heath totaled 71 receptions for 749 yards and eight touchdowns as part of the late Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense.
However, Heath did something that many would call treasonous in the South. He transferred to Ole Miss ahead of the 2022 season, making him part of a very exclusive club to play in the Egg Bowl for both teams. In fact, he’s the first player in the transfer portal era to do so.
“I just like the offense,” Heath said. “I think Lane Kiffin is a great play-caller, (wide receivers) coach (Derrick) Nix is a great coach. He pushes you every day. That’s something I didn’t have over there at the other school. At first, I was skeptical about it because of the rival school and all the media and all that. But I’ve seen a lot of other folks (transferring), and I thought, ‘Why not?'”
“I’m glad it’s not at the other school,” Heath said. “They’ve got to come here. I ain’t have to hear the cowbells. I’ve been thinking about it ever since I came. I didn’t like the cowbells. The cowbells are too loud.”
It was a move that paid off for Heath as he started 12 games for the Rebels and was one of Jaxson Dart’s top targets as he led the team with 60 receptions and 917 yards while adding five touchdowns. His total receiving yardage ranked third in the SEC, while his 74.7 yards per game put him second in the conference. Additionally, he recorded five games of 100+ yards, with four coming in the last six games.
At the NFL Combine, Heath measured in at 6’2″ and 213 pounds with 32 1/2 inch arms and 9 1/8 inch hands. While those are great numbers, his testing numbers did not help his case, as he ran a 4.64 40-yard dash, jumped 34″ in the vertical, 10’4″ in the broad, ran the three-cone in 6.96 seconds, and the 20-yard shuttle in 4.46 seconds for an underwhelming 6.58 RAS.
But as a big-bodied receiver, there’s more to Heath’s game than simply what the stopwatch will tell you. To better understand this and where he fits into the 2023 NFL Draft class, we turn to the scouting report to find Heath’s strengths and areas for improvement.
Tony Pauline’s Scouting Report for Malik Heath
Strengths: Underrated wide receiver who consistently comes away with the difficult reception. Quickly releases into pass routes, easily adjusts to the errant throw, and makes the reception in stride.
Tracks the pass in the air, gets vertical, and snatches the ball away from his frame. Nicely makes the reception on crossing patterns, takes a big hit, and holds onto the throw. Uses his frame to shield away defenders and protect the pass. Wins out for the contested throw.
Weaknesses: Must be more consistent catching the ball away from his frame rather than letting passes get inside him. Lacks downfield speed and cannot run to the deep throw.
Overall: Heath was outstanding at Mississippi last season and really developed his game. He possesses next-level size and will be a solid possession receiver on Sundays if he learns to consistently catch the ball with his hands.
Malik Heath Combine Measurements and Results
- Height: 6’2″
- Weight: 213 pounds
- Arm Length: 32 1/2″
- Hand Size: 9 1/8″
- Bench Press: DNP
- 40-Yard Dash: 4.64 seconds
- Vertical Jump: 34″
- Broad Jump: 10’4″
- Short Shuttle: 4.46
- Three-cone: 6.96 seconds
Ole Miss WR Malik Heath’s Current Draft Projection
Opinions appear split on this year’s wide receiver class, and the trend seems to be going downward as the draft approaches. Sure, there’s no dominant alpha, but the depth of this class should be celebrated.
But this is smoke-screen season, and when push comes to shove, we’ll see wide receivers fly off the board early and often. Those who wait a bit could turn into even greater values, given the level of NFL coaching compared to what they’re likely used to at most schools.
Heath could be one of those players, as he currently comes in as the WR35 and the No. 239 ranked player on Tony Pauline’s Big Board. With a draft grade of 3.30, Heath has an estimated draft projection that places him at the fringe of Rounds 6 and 7.
Heath’s size and length will undoubtedly appeal to an NFL team, especially given the potential to improve his contested-catch rate, which sat at 36.1%. While he does show the ability to separate vertically, Heath’s route running needs to improve to become a complete receiver. Additionally, his release package can be predictable.
At his size, most teams can find a role from within their schemes, but Heath must develop a way to win consistently. That’s easier said than done in the NFL. Being big and quick is not as significant of a separator at this level compared to both JUCO and even the SEC. But if Heath can quickly develop a rapport with his next quarterback, he could be a name to remember as the 2023 NFL season approaches.
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