Top Potential 2024 NFL Draft Busts: Drake Maye, Michael Penix, Brian Thomas, and More

Who are the top potential NFL Draft busts from this year's class? Let's dive into some of the riskier prospects, including three QBs.

Optimism rules the days after every NFL Draft. Teams and their fans want to believe each pick will work out, and that each player somehow will reach their potential. Of course, it never works out that way. The reality is most drafted players won’t pan out, and some picks will be considered disastrous.

But who are the top potential NFL Draft busts from the 2024 class? Let’s get into a few.

2024 NFL Draft Busts: Ranking Riskiest Prospects From This Year’s Class

Drake Maye — QB, New England Patriots

Drake Maye, who was drafted third overall, might go on to be the best quarterback in this draft. He’s got the arm talent, athleticism, and size to become a superstar for the Patriots. However, Maye is flawed and inexperienced, with his disappointing final season at UNC raising concerns about his ability to play quarterback in the pros.

Don’t take our word for it. Take Bill Belichick’s:

It’s not just about Maye’s technical and decision-making shortcomings, though. It’s also about the situation he’s being placed into.

The Patriots have a better roster than many believe, but they have major questions at left tackle and receiver. They also have a new, unproven offensive coaching staff.

That’s a strong recipe for ruining a young, promising quarterback — just ask Mac Jones.

Michael Penix Jr. — QB, Atlanta Falcons

Regardless of what you think about Maye, it’s hard to argue that he was overdrafted. The same can’t be said for Michael Penix Jr., who went eighth overall to the Falcons despite many viewing him as a Day 2 talent.

The lefty QB has plenty of arm talent and is a natural leader. But his checkered medical history — multiple ACL tears — and inconsistent pocket presence are concerning. Penix also will turn 24 next month, meaning he might be 26 by the time he finally supplants Kirk Cousins, who signed a lucrative contract but isn’t guaranteed anything past 2025.

Speaking of Cousins, the dynamic between him and Penix will be worth monitoring. The Falcons invited a ton of drama by drafting Penix, who’ll begin his NFL career under awkward circumstances.

Bo Nix — QB, Denver Broncos

Broncos head coach Sean Payton reportedly feels as strongly about Nix as he did Patrick Mahomes. We’ll see about that.

Most draft experts placed a Day 2 grade on Nix, who was No. 35 on the Pro Football Network Big Board. The Oregon product has enough potential to develop into a strong NFL starter, but there isn’t much “star” in his game. He’s less of a gunslinger and more of an efficient distributor who excels with intermediate throws.

No matter how you slice it, Nix feels like a reach as the 12th overall pick.

Laiatu Latu — EDGE, Indianapolis Colts

Laiatu Latu was arguably the best pure pass rusher available in the draft. Colts general manager Chris Ballard, who used the 15th pick on Latu, will tell you all about it.

If Latu stays healthy, he likely will be a great pass rusher in the pros. His talent is real. But will he stay healthy?

A neck injury forced Latu to retire before the 2021 collegiate season. After transferring from Washinton to UCLA, he returned for the 2022 campaign and re-established himself as an elite prospect. But teams still are wary of Latu’s neck issue, so much so that some took him off their boards entirely.

Latu is one of the top boom-or-bust players in this draft class, but not because of his ability.

Brian Thomas Jr. — WR, Jacksonville Jaguars

Brian Thomas Jr. isn’t on this list because of where he was drafted. The Jaguars might’ve found great value in using the 23rd overall pick on Thomas, who felt like someone teams could’ve reached for in the middle of Round 1.

No, Thomas is on this list because of who he is as a prospect. The LSU product is undeniably fast and capable of making big plays, but he’s not a polished route runner and has issues against tight, physical coverage. He also struggled with drops in college.

Will Thomas be a one-trick pony in the NFL, or will he polish his game and become a well-rounded receiver? The answer will determine whether Thomas was worthy of being a first-round pick.

Braden Fiske — DT, Los Angeles Rams

Unlike Penix and Nix, Braden Fiske didn’t make this list because of where he was drafted. And, unlike Thomas, he’s not on this list because of questions about his overall ability.

Rather, Fiske is on here because of how he was drafted by the Rams.

Los Angeles traded up in Round 2 to select Fiske with the 39th overall pick. In return, the Carolina Panthers received pick Nos. 52 and 155, plus a second-rounder in 2025. That’s a major overpay.

Just look at this graphic from ESPN’s Seth Walder:

Fiske, who was 65th on our big board (and higher on others), has the talent to be a great defensive tackle in the NFL and a worthy second-round pick. He’s got the size and athleticism that teams are looking for.

However, Fiske will need to be a borderline star to justify that trade package.

T’Vondre Sweat — DT, Tennessee Titans

This is a tough one.

On talent alone, T’Vondre Sweat could’ve been a first-round pick. However, concerns about his weight management and a recent DWI arrest caused Sweat’s stock to plummet ahead of the draft. Many believed he’d slip into Round 3; we had him 131st on our board.

And yet, the Titans drafted Sweat with the 38th overall pick. That’s a major gamble on a player with legitimate off-field concerns and major bust potential.

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