NFL Analysis


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2024 NFL Draft: 7 Prospects With Most Boom or Bust Potential

UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu
UCLA Bruins defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) looks on before the game against the San Diego State Aztecs at Snapdragon Stadium. (Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports)

Part of the charm of the NFL draft cycle is the optimism that builds for fanbases from the Super Bowl through the actual event. Every player that your favorite team picks will at least be a starter, if not an All-Pro, right? Unfortunately, we know that's not true, and the 2024 NFL Draft class has its fair share of boom-or-bust prospects.

We've identified seven high-profile names who could find themselves on either side of the coin in several years. A player's career can be altered by injuries, playing in the wrong scheme or a regime change at the wrong time. These prospects are especially susceptible if the playcalling doesn't maximize their strengths or the rise in competition exposes weaknesses more.

These seven players might become Pro Bowlers or be on their second team by the end of their rookie contract.

7 Boom-or-Bust Draft Prospects

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

A remarkable 2023 season redefined what we thought we knew about Jayden Daniels. Always a gifted athlete, Daniels started to piece together his physical tools in his first year at LSU. His running impact translated from the Pac-12, and his passing was sharper and more reliable.

In 2023, Daniels took the next leap as an explosive star. The fifth-year starter became the best deep passer in the nation and paired that ability with devastating rushing numbers. It's not an accident that Daniels, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. formed the best trio of playmakers in the country. 

However, beyond Daniels's 72.2 percent completion rate, 4,946 total yards and 50 touchdowns, there are some questions about how it all translates to the NFL. Daniels notably attempted only 9.3 percent of his throws over the middle of the field from 11-20 yards, and that area is critical for his NFL success. His passing splits most closely mirror Justin Fields', and Fields has struggled to play in a timing-based offense and evolve his game. 

Daniels might have just been executing the offense, and he'll quickly adjust at the next level. But he'll also have to protect his body better because he often ran right into direct hits from larger defenders. His slight 210-pound frame comes with obvious injury concerns.

Finally, critics focus on Daniels' play against top-25 competition. Against four top-25 foes in 2023, his completion rate dipped to 65.8 percent. His touchdown rate dropped from 13.8 percent to 8.3 percent, and his interception rate jumped from 0.9 percent to 1.7 percent. LSU's defense was so bad that Daniels had to engage in high-scoring affairs, but his play dipped in high-pressure games.

It might not matter because he's usually the fastest guy on the field, improved his deep touch and showed an incredible work ethic throughout his career. He has a sky-high ceiling, but his new offensive coordinator must cater to his skill set.

>>READ MORE: Ranking Top 11 Quarterback Prospects

Amarius Mims in his blocking stance
Georgia Bulldogs offensive lineman Amarius Mims (65) and offensive lineman Tate Ratledge (69) against the TCU Horned Frogs during the CFP national championship game at SoFi Stadium. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

The 2024 offensive tackle class might be the best since the 2007 group gave us Joe Thomas, Ryan Clady, Jake Long and Joe Staley. Amarius Mims is at the top of the list of the most purely talented guys. The Georgia player is a menacing presence at right tackle, standing almost 6-foot-8 and 340 pounds and moving like a tight end who weighs 80 pounds less. 

For as polished and reliable as Joe Alt is and as nimble and robust as Olumuyiwa Fashanu is, Mims is still the most dominant blocker in the group. His immense wingspan engulfs defenders, and his ability to dip his hips and generate leverage in the run game is otherworldly. And yet, he's consistently mocked in the bottom half of the first round.

The reason is that Mims hasn't been on the field very much. He played in only seven games in 2023 due to an ankle injury. He was a reserve in 14 of the team's 15 games in 2022 and had limited duties in 2021. In total, he's played 802 snaps.

Mims could be another Greg Robinson. Robinson was the No. 2 pick in the 2014 draft, boasting similar traits and highlights in a small sample size. But Robinson was stuck in a run-heavy offense at Auburn, which led to problems with the Rams. Mims played in an NFL-style offense with more aggressive playcalling.

The inflection point of risk vs. reward with Mims will be fascinating as it unfolds on draft day. He has the profile to be the next Trent Williams, but is he too good to be true?

>>READ MORE: Ranking Top 15 Tackle Prospects

Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

We know Penn State is an athlete factory. Almost every major prospect out of Happy Valley goes to the combine and posts close to record-breaking performances. Allen Robinson, Saquon Barkley, Mike Gesicki, Brandon Smith, Odafe Oweh, Micah Parsons and Joey Porter Jr. are just a few of the many prospects who ranked near the top of their position in athletic testing. 

Chop Robinson is the latest freak athlete to enter the NFL. Plenty of Nittany Lions have enjoyed NFL success, but few have matched the expectations that have come with their testing numbers. For every Robinson, Parsons, Barkley and Chris Godwin, there's a Tariq Castro-Fields, Jordan Lucas or Troy Apke. Their pure edge defenders' lack of collegiate and professional production is especially notable.

Like Oweh, Robinson produced many pressures and quarterback hurries in college but not many sacks. If Robinson can't finish plays more effectively, he won't earn a giant second contract. His burst off the line is elite, but his play strength, lack of length and limited move set have pushed someone with top-five traits into the late first round. 

Parsons quickly combined his talent and tenacity and is arguably the league's best defender now. But Oweh is entering a make-or-break year, so the pendulum has to be at least in the middle for Robinson to thrive.

Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Midway through the 2023 season, it was hard to imagine Keon Coleman dropping out of the top half of the first round. In his first season at Florida State, he started with a nine-catch, 122-yard, three-touchdown performance against LSU. He then scored two touchdowns against Clemson and posted a 140-yard game against Syracuse.

But the 6-foot-3, 212-pound Coleman struggled to continue his torrid pace due to a minor injury and inconsistent target share. Florida State's offense failed to find explosive plays as the season progressed, and Coleman became a red zone specialist. Still, he finished with 658 yards and 11 touchdowns on 50 receptions.

His film is impressive for someone so large. He is a terror at the catch point, showing off solid and reliable hands, perfect timing on jump balls and an alpha attitude. He's not the fastest player, but he is quick for his height and generates more separation than a higher-rated player in Rome Odunze. 

The combine didn't bring the 40-time that could've boosted Coleman back into the top 20, though. His 4.61-second time was disappointing, and suddenly, concerns about whether he was just a half-season spark or a potential high-end NFL starter began. Coleman was arguably the best receiver in the combine drills, though, and GPS tracking showed he ran through the gauntlet drill faster than Troy Franklin, who blazed a 4.41-second 40-yard dash. 

The truth about players like Coleman is their situation will likely determine their fate. Going to a trusting quarterback who will serve him contested balls down the field will bode well. On the other hand, a gunshy passer or coordinator who wants to force Coleman into a different role will lead to failure.

>>READ MORE: Ranking Top 20 Wide Receiver Prospects

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

I debated listing J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix or Bo Nix here. Each has clear strengths and weaknesses, but Nix seems to get shorted the most of this group. The 6-foot-2, 214-pounder became a historically efficient passer at Oregon. Still, most can't shake his struggles at Auburn, despite forgetting Daniels' previous woes at Arizona State. 

Nix needed more structure to harness his strong arm, rushing mobility and confidence. He was prone to doing too much in a woeful Auburn offense but quickly settled into more of a game-manager role at Oregon. He finished his two seasons in Eugene with a 74.9 percent completion rate, 8,101 yards, 74 touchdowns and 10 interceptions. 

Nix didn't always have to do much to earn those numbers. But he showed up when Oregon needed him the most, including two showdowns with Penix's Huskies in 2023. He still flashed the out-of-pocket playmaking and poise under pressure required to reach a Pro Bowl level and franchise quarterback status in the NFL.

Despite this, Nix has been forgotten as a first-round talent. He'll need a good surrounding cast or else those bad habits might crush his confidence. The risk is that Nix loses his composure, takes on too much responsibility within the offense, and falls apart in accuracy and decision-making.

Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Everyone knew that while Will Anderson Jr. was busy contending for the Heisman and positioning to be a top-five pick, his teammate was the better pure athlete. Dallas Turner played a blended position across from Anderson, splitting time as a pass-rusher and in coverage. He was too fluid and rangy for Nick Saban to limit.

Alabama finally freed Turner up to focus on getting after quarterbacks in 2023. The 6-foot-3, 247-pounder often showed off his 4.46-second 40-yard dash speed, 40.5-inch vertical and 10-foot-7-inch broad jump leaping ability. His first step is excellent, and his power is directly rooted in a strong, explosive base that threatens blockers in many ways.

He finished with a respectable 10 sacks in his final season at Alabama, but he wasn't the absolute consistent force many had hoped he'd become. His pass-rush moves need refinement, and he's still learning the position. He's a better and more reliable run defender than anything else.

So why do so many mock drafts have Turner in the top 10 and as the EDGE1? It's a weak class for the position, and investing in his traits is worth it. Turner was productive in college despite not always having a plan, and the tempting belief is he'll flourish when paired with NFL coaches and teammates. 

That said, the risk is clear, as Turner can't be just a decent pass-rusher in the NFL if he's to fulfill his draft status.

>>READ MORE: Ranking Top 11 EDGE Prospects

Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

If there's someone who is a sure thing to act as a professional in the NFL in this class, it's Laiatu Latu. The 6-foot-5, 259-pounder was an unstoppable presence over the last two years, finishing with 23.5 sacks, 34 tackles for loss, and five forced fumbles at UCLA. He talked about his preparedness for each blocker every week, and that's what it takes to succeed in the NFL.

Latu's production is fantastic, and his comeback from what seemed like a career-ending neck injury at Washington is even better. He played in eight games in 2019 at Washington before medically retiring until 2022. Since returning to the field, he's become a defensive weapon who can line up off the edge, over center or take on guards.

He's quicker than fast, which works well in combination with the deepest set of pass-rush moves in the class. But he's also a part-time player, often sitting out in clear run situations. He struggled to win at the point of attack and hold his run lane. Because he's not an elite-tier athlete who reliably wins off the edge first and foremost, Latu might struggle in a more defined role. 

It might not matter that he has to move around to be his best self or that he's not an asset in short-yardage situations. Only the right defensive playcaller can make that work. Or, he'll develop beyond what he's already shown and shore up those concerns. 

As is, Latu will have to be a supreme specialist to justify his draft stock, and he might be the unique player to pull it off successfully.