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NFL draft profile 2024: Malachi Corley (Wide receiver, Western Kentucky)

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By: Ryland Bickley

Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Could “the YAC king” be headed to the Steelers in 2024?

Approaching the 2024 NFL Draft, we’ll be scouting as many of the top prospects that the Pittsburgh Steelers could have their eye on anywhere from Rounds 1 through 7. We’ll break down the prospects themselves, their strengths and weaknesses, projected draft capital and their fit with the Steelers.

Malachi Corley is one of the most intriguing prospects in this year’s draft class, and the Steelers have shown interest. Could Corley be donning the black and gold this season?

The basics on Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley

  • Position: Wide receiver
  • Class: Senior (Western Kentucky)
  • Size: 5’11, 215 pounds
  • Age: 22
  • Projected draft round: Round 3

Offensive stats via Sports Reference

Malachi Corley scouting report

The comparison you’ll be hearing all draft season for Malachi Corley is Deebo Samuel. And although it feels lazy to compare Day 2 draft targets to some of the NFL’s top offensive weapons, in this case it’s fairly accurate.

With a running back build at 5’11, 215 pounds, Corley is a thickly-built receiver and gadget weapon. He received a lot of his touches on screens, with Western Kentucky taking advantage of Corley’s 4.46 speed and bowling ball physique to inflict YAC terror on opposing defenses (No. 11 in all clips).

WKU ran a very screen-heavy offense, meaning that when Corley wasn’t receiving, he was oftentimes blocking. He’s a willing, effective blocker who uses his size to clear a path through the secondary, with great power in his initial punch. In the play below, he’s almost a little too eager to initiate contact with the defender, but it’s a good problem to have.

Corley’s hands were a mixed bag on tape. In some instances, he’d grab the ball in stride, immediately turn his head, and find a lane, showing off his ability to quickly process the defense. Other times, there were concentration drops on easy balls. And at 5’11, Corley has a smaller catch radius and struggles with contested catches. At this point in his career, Corley is much more of a perimeter running back than a polished threat at wide receiver.

However, while Corley struggles with jump balls, he has no problems catching over-the-shoulder passes when they hit him in stride.

As a route runner, Corley is similarly a work in progress. He has a quick first step off the line, but he doesn’t create much separation on his routes. He lacks elite acceleration and doesn’t vary his speed much or cut quickly.

On the play below, he struggles to break away from the defender and can’t haul in the pass.

Against zone, Corley is better, with a good feel for finding open spots in the defense.

Corley is at his most dangerous on short screens. He has fantastic open field vision, contact balance, and power, rarely going down on first contact against defensive backs.

As a result, WKU often used Corley as a gadget player, with the receiver getting occasional reps as a running back and constantly receiving touches at or behind the line of scrimmage. He isn’t the fastest receiver in the class, but at full tilt he can easily blow by linemen and linebackers, while still having the compact build to hold up in that area of the field.

However, separation remains the name of the game for most NFL receivers, which is where Corley remains incredibly raw. He’s unlikely to be an immediate starter, but he has the unique build and athleticism to be an exciting gadget player at the next level who, with the right coaching, could develop into a Deebo Samuel-level weapon.


  • Running back build, runs through defensive backs
  • Excellent at following blocks in open field
  • Good speed for size (215 pounds)
  • Great blocker


  • Not a sudden route runner
  • Inconsistent hands, poor catch radius
  • Incredibly raw, limited route tree
  • Didn’t play much against top-notch competition

What others are saying about Malachi Corley

Lance Zierlein of

Corley is a big, physical wideout who has been asked to carry a heavy workload for Western Kentucky using his talent after the catch. Corley’s highlight reel will be full of broken tackles and general carnage left in his wake. He’s an average route-runner with the tools to improve, but a disappointing drop rate and contested-catch rate are concerns relative to the way he plays the game in space. Like Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel when they were prospects, Corley has had a heavy percentage of his targets schemed around him and he will need to prove he can become more than just a quick-game bully or gadget guy. He’s good at what his team asked him to do, which is a great jump-off point for evaluators considering him as a Day 2 selection and future starter.

Chris Pflum of Big Blue View

Corley’s greatest upside will be in offenses that weaponize spacing and alignment to create traffic on the defense, while also scheming opportunities to get the ball to skill position players in space. Modern “West Coast” offenses could make particularly good use of Corley and he has the potential to be a high-volume and high-upside option for them.

Offenses that ask receivers to beat one-on-one matchups or value more conventional receivers will likely look elsewhere. However, Corley has the potential to be a highly productive and versatile weapon as a slot receiver or slot-back (to use an older term) in the right situation.

Rob Gregson of A to Z Sports

Corley is a bowling ball from the perimeter which creates problems for defenses as they aren’t prepared for his level of physicality and dense frame.

When given manufactured touches you can see how Corley is a Swiss Army knife that can align in the slot or out of the backfield and make plays with the ball in his hands.

Teams will be concerned about how long he can play the way he wants before getting injured, along with his rawness as a true WR. But for organizations that need a spark or influx of dynamic talent, Corley fits the bill.

Malachi Corley’s fit with the Steelers

Corley doesn’t seem like the greatest fit for the Steelers at first glance. The team has plenty of slot/gadget types already, with a gaping hole at WR2. However, at this stage in his career, Corley seems much more suited for the former than the latter due to his inability to separate and incomplete skillset.

However, the Steelers have shown a lot of pre-draft interest in Corley. While he might not be a great fit on the outside, at least initially, his blocking prowess and tough-nosed style of play is a philosophical fit for the Arthur Smith offense. If schemed correctly, Corley could be something special at the NFL level. If he’s available at one of the Steelers’ two third-round picks in the upcoming draft, he’d be worth a look.

TL;DR: Corley is a raw wide receiver prospect who’s built like a running back. A tough, hard-to-bring-down runner in the short passing game, he’ll have to greatly improve his route tree to take his game to the next level.

What are your thoughts on Western Kentucky wide receiver Malachi Corley? And which draft prospects would you like to see profiled next? Let us know in the comments below!

Originally posted on Behind the Steel Curtain – All Posts