Press "Enter" to skip to content
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during the first round the 2017 NFL Draft at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo courtesy of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

NFL Draft 2024: Two Sleeper Picks and One Bust

By: Krish Gupta, Jackson Juzang, and Chauncy Wadsworth

It is a foregone conclusion that USC’s Caleb Williams will be taken first overall by the Chicago Bears in next week’s highly anticipated NFL draft. In a seemingly top-heavy class, it is easy to fixate on the quarterbacks who will go off the board early. However, every round has its gems. We each picked two later-round sleepers and a potential early-pick bust heading into the draft. 


Photo courtesy of Dan Sanger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Sleeper 1: Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin
Watching the 6’2, 245 pound running back’s highlights, it’s hard not to draw an immediate comparison to superstar Derrick Henry. A projected Day Three pick behind running backs like Blake Corum and Trey Benson, Allen can be a late gem that develops into a top running back in the league. He ran for 984 yards and 12 touchdowns in 2023, averaging over five yards per carry. His massive frame, quick 4.40 40-time, and vision allows him to bully defenders downhill. Allen is also only 20 years old, at a position where age matters more than any other. Running backs may be the most expendable position in the league, but having a top one will transform any offense. Allen will make an instant impact wherever he lands. 

Sleeper 2: Jalen McMillan, WR, Washington
Rome Odunze may be the Washington Husky wide receiver getting significantly more attention at the top of draft boards, but McMillan could be a sneaky good second round pick. Playing in a high-powered offense behind Michael Penix Jr., McMillan caught for 559 yards in an injury-limited 2023 after topping 1,000 in 2022. Scoring touchdowns in big games against Michigan in the CFP and Texas, McMillan has proven his ability against good defenses and can be a top WR2 in the NFL. Equipped with a 4.47 40-time and elite route running ability, McMillan played in the slot as well as anyone in the nation and that production should continue in the NFL.

Bust: Michael Penix, QB, Washington
This is a bold pick considering Penix’s expected top 15 draft position, but the combination of having two great receivers in Odunze and McMillan, a very strong offensive line, and an injury history, means he is being overvalued on draft boards (not to mention he is already 23 years old). While he has the potential to develop into a starting quarterback, he is not a first-round caliber quarterback at this point and rather a boom-or-bust flier. Penix has put up impressive numbers for the past two seasons but struggled when playing strong defenses— he went 27/51 with two picks against Michigan in the CFP Semifinals. There is arguably a steep dropoff after Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, and Drake Maye in this year’s quarterback class, but the premium on the position has allowed typical Day Two players like Penix, JJ McCarthy, and Bo Nix to see their stocks rise into the first round.


Photo courtesy of Athletic Republic

Sleeper 1: Blake Corum, RB, Michigan 
Blake Corum is one of the best running backs in Michigan history and was a major reason why the Wolverines won three straight Big Ten championships and the national championship in January.In terms of vision and decision-making, you won’t find a better runner in this class than Corum. He consistently picks out the right rushing lanes and rarely wastes time behind the line of scrimmage, both of which limit negative plays. Corum is also very willing to ram forward to get the yards that are there rather than risk wasting plays. Corum also does an exceptional job using his blocks. All of that is made even better by Corum’s quick feet and shifty lateral agility. Corum is projected to go late in the third round or early in the fourth round by most major sports sites. If a franchise can overlook his lack of height, the two-time All-American will be a very productive weapon for whatever team that drafts him. 

Sleeper 2: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State 
Keon Coleman is a throwback X receiver. Physicality and ball skills are the name of the game for Coleman. At 6’4″ and 215 pounds, he always has his way with defensive backs, especially in one-on-one situations. He excels at fighting through the press at the line of scrimmage, as well as using his length and strength to buy space at the top of route breaks. Coleman is even a pretty chippy blocker. Coleman also leverages that strength when it comes to playing the ball in the air. He had the second-slowest 40-yard dash time at his position, which in ways plummeted his draft stock to be a mid-second round to mid-third round draft pick this year. Although his slow 40-yard dash time, he was one of the fastest receivers in the Gauntlet drill, showing great hands and setting the top speed. His rough combine contributed to his draft stock dropping, but his pre-draft performance isn’t enough to determine his bright future in the NFL.

Bust: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina 
Did the Commanders and Patriots not see what a UNC Quarterback could do in the NFL this past season, in Sam Howell? Those are the two teams that are possible landing spots for Drake Maye, where the other franchise will pick Jayden Daniels out of LSU. NFL teams should not be drafting QBs from basketball schools, and Drake Maye is not an exception. Maye posted respectable stats this past season, with 3,608 passing yards, 24 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, which should be a frightening stat line to see considering they did not play a very competitive schedule this year. However, this represented a decline compared to his 2022 performance, where Maye excelled with 4,321 yards, 38 touchdowns, and seven interceptions, leading North Carolina to an ACC Championship game appearance. His high draft stock can be credited due to Maye’s size and arm talent, comparable to the Chargers star quarterback Justin Hebert. He can make every throw, but he is prone to make throws that he shouldn’t attempt, making many of his throws susceptible to interceptions. He may be getting away with those types of throws in college but in the NFL, defensive backs will be waiting for the interception. Maye also has moments where he doesn’t see or react to post-snap movement, making him easy to sack. Maye’s athleticism is certainly a good component of his draft profile, but his “Superman Syndrome” in big moments is going to make a franchise very unhappy. Drake Maye can be seen more as a project, rather than an immediate success, but considering the quality of these franchises at the moment, he may not progress smoothly. 


Photo courtesy of Amanda Loman via OregonLive

Sleeper 1: Khyree Jackson, CB, Oregon
Khyree Jackson is the definition of a “raw” prospect. At 6 ‘3, 197 lbs with a 6’ 5 wingspan, there’s no doubt Jackson will strike fear into the heart of any receiver that he guards at the pro level. However, having played at 3 different schools in the last 4 years (one of which was a community college), Jackson has never had access to consistent coaching. As a result, his poor hand technique in press coverage is a major problem in the eyes of NFL scouts. Moreover, even after finding a home at Oregon, Jackson continually struggled to cover speedy receivers, which would make him a possible liability when lining up against the likes of Tyreek Hill and Ja’Marr Chase in the NFL. In recent years, several NFL teams have achieved great success with the raw athletic ability seen in Jackson. One great example is the Jets’ Sauce Gardner, who was described in a very similar fashion to Jackson when he came out of college in 2022. All things considered, with some of the best coaching talent in the world at all levels, the NFL is made for the development of polymers like Jackson. 

Sleeper 1: Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan 
In any normal NFL draft, you’d expect that the top receiver on the National Championship-winning team would be a top prospect. However, in a “loaded” 2024 wide receiver class, it’s much more difficult than it usually would be. Luckily, Michigan star WR Roman Wilson is used to being overlooked. As a lowly 4-star recruit from Hawaii (which isn’t known for the talents of its football prospects), Wilson was able to play for one of the greatest Michigan teams of all time. With incredible straight line speed, an impressive football IQ and leadership abilities that were seen as major catalysts for Michigan’s success in the 2023 college football season, I see Roman Wilson as a diamond in the rough. His stats may not jump off the page in comparison to prospects like Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison, but in an offense based entirely around Michigan RB Blake Corum, what else was Wilson to do? Even though he may be a projected 2nd or 3rd-round pick, as a fast, smart receiver, on the best team in the country, I see Roman Wilson as one of the best receivers in the draft. 

Bust: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon
Over the past few weeks, you may have heard the name “Bo Nix” pop up in conversations surrounding the best QBs in the NFL draft. Often praised for his video game-like stats (only second to those of Jayden Daniels), there’s no doubting that Nix had a career year in 2024. However, Nix is also the spitting image of what NFL fans have dubbed the “system quarterback.” For instance, while he may have led Oregon to success in the past, the offense run by Oregon head coach Dan Lanning makes life very easy for QBs like Nix. With an emphasis on quick, low-risk passes, Lanning’s offense has often been criticized for making the lives of his quarterbacks “too comfortable.” Moreover, while at Oregon, Nix had access to top receiver talents like Troy Franklin, and one of the best offensive lines in the country. As a result, when thinking about Bo Nix’s time at Oregon, NFL fans shouldn’t look at what he produced, but the easy situation he was put into. In fact, when he was faced with adversity, during his first position at Auburn, Nix put up mediocre stats and was widely considered by fans of the team to be a bust. Although Nix may be in the draft conversation as a possible first round pick, I give him a 4th round grade, with his ceiling being that of a below average NFL backup.  

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.