Five 2024 NFL Draft Picks Most Likely to Be a Bust in the AFC

It’s time to put the conference’s selections under the microscope and evaluate which incoming rookies may not pan out the way teams expect.
Maye enters a roster without a proven, star weapon on the outside.
Maye enters a roster without a proven, star weapon on the outside. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In the 2024 NFL draft, there were 257 players selected.

Some are going to become solid role players. Others will make a Pro Bowl or two. Then there are the select stars who become perennial Pro Bowlers and even see some All-Pro teams. Finally, a couple will be fitted for gold jackets in Canton.

Unfortunately, there’s the opposite reality as well. For every star, there will be 20 players who don’t make an impact. Of those, many will be late-round fliers. But a few will come from the first few rounds, players expected to make a difference only to fade into football oblivion.

So which of the AFC picks surrounded by hype could be cautionary tales in the coming years? It’s time to take a hard look at not only the player but the team and situation, along with potential pitfalls out of their control.

5. Drake Maye, QB, New England Patriots

Why he’ll be a bust: To be clear, Maye has a very good chance of succeeding. He has all the tools. This is more about the situation around him, and the pressure on Maye because of the past few years under Bill Belichick.

Maye is going to a team with a first-year, defensive-minded head coach in Jerod Mayo. He’s also entering a roster which doesn’t have a proven, star weapon on the outside. It’s a big ask of Maye, although it’s not impossible. Want proof? Look at C.J. Stroud and the Houston Texans.

4. Keon Coleman, WR, Buffalo Bills

Why he’ll be a bust: Coleman is a massive receiver. At the combine, the Florida State product checked in at 6'3"and 213 pounds. With the Seminoles in 2023, he was the top receiver for a team which almost made the College Football Playoff.

The problems, though, are evident. He struggled to separate against college corners, largely because of his 4.6 speed. And his contested catch rate was 33% last season despite a size advantage on almost every snap. For the Bills, this is a gamble on measurables and Josh Allen. Fair enough, but the bust potential is there.

3. Amarius Mims, OT, Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals offensive tackle Amarius Mims
Mims started only eight games in college. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Why he’ll be a bust: Mims might be the biggest wild card in this class. On tape, he’s an absolute monster in both the run and pass game, dominating edge defenders with considerable ease. Also, at 6'8"and 340 pounds, the size is unquestionable.

However, Mims started only eight games in college, and injuries were a consistent concern, too. The Bengals are banking on him finally staying healthy and reaching his potential, which is becoming an All-Pro talent. For Cincinnati, which has struggled to field a quality offensive line in front of Joe Burrow, it’s an understandable risk.

2. T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Tennessee Titans

Why he’ll be a bust: Sweat is powerful as a defensive tackle who can get up the field and destroy blockers at times. The problem? He wasn’t always that guy. At Texas, Sweat played in 51 games and totaled just 17.5 tackles for loss and five sacks.

Additionally, there are questions about Sweat away from the field. In early April, he was arrested on suspicion of DWI. Tennessee took a chance on him anyway as a second-round pick despite some believing he shouldn’t come off the board until Day 3. It’s a risky move at a position that wasn’t a huge need, considering Tennessee already has Jeffrey Simmons inside.

1.  Bo Nix, QB, Denver Broncos

Why he’ll be a bust: Nix has a few things going against him. First, the Broncos are terrible around him. One could argue they have the worst roster in the NFL, including a leaky offensive line and a weapons group that has Courtland Sutton and not much else.

But the problems aren’t only about the supporting cast. Denver is also taking a chance on a kid who struggled mightily at Auburn, leading to his transfer. When playing within a pro-style offense with the Tigers for three seasons, Nix completed less than 60 percent of his attempts. Finally, he’s 24 years old. Has he already hit his ceiling? 

John Pluym


John Pluym is the managing editor for NFL and golf content at Sports Illustrated. A sports history buff, he previously spent 10 years at ESPN overseeing NFL coverage. John has won several awards throughout his career, including from the Society of News Design and Associated Press Sports Editors. As a native Minnesotan, he enjoys spending time on his boat and playing golf.