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

The pressure is on for J.J. McCarthy and the Minnesota Vikings.  
McCarthy might have the best surroundings among the first-round quarterbacks, but many think he doesn't have the skill set of his peers.
McCarthy might have the best surroundings among the first-round quarterbacks, but many think he doesn't have the skill set of his peers. / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
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This is my least favorite story to write because who truly knows one week after the draft which top picks won’t do well in the NFL? The draft is mostly a crapshoot and not every pick pans out. 

Those are things I tell myself to feel better about writing this story again. But before we continue, I gotta hold the “L” on listing Detroit Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs as a potential bust from last year’s draft. That guy is a stud and I know nothing. O.K., now I feel better about writing this story. 

It wasn’t easy finding five players for this story because we tend to associate busts with players selected inside the top 15. In the NFC, Caleb Williams and Rome Odunze could have immediate success with how well the Bears have built their roster the past two seasons. Can’t add Marvin Harrison Jr. because he has the makings of being a special wide receiver. And it’s always difficult knocking offensive linemen because they tend to hit at a high rate, and about 10 were taken in the first round.

But there’s always pressure on every first-round pick, and as we know, not every top 32 pick becomes a star in the NFL. Here are the five most likely draft busts from the NFC. 

5. Jordan Morgan, OL, Green Bay Packers

The Packers got it right by adding a top offensive lineman with the No. 25 pick to help Jordan Love, who enjoyed a breakout 2023 season. But I can’t help but wonder whether the Packers selected the right offensive lineman.

They needed a left tackle after cutting David Bakhtiari, but they selected Morgan, whom many draft experts viewed as a better guard than tackle. If they wanted a true tackle, the Packers could have selected Tyler Guyton, who went four picks later to the Dallas Cowboys. Perhaps the Packers favored Morgan’s versatility and they know he can play left tackle if needed—he was Arizona’s starting left tackle the past few seasons. Green Bay does need help in the interior of the offensive line. 

With the arrival of Morgan, the team has options if Rasheed Walker isn’t the long-term answer at left tackle. It’s difficult to knock the pick, but maybe the Packers passed on a prospect with more upside at tackle. 

4. Michael Penix Jr., QB, Atlanta Falcons

It’s somewhat strange adding Penix to this list because he might not play for a few seasons. But succession plans don’t always work out, with Trey Lance and the San Francisco 49ers being the most recent example. Lance waited to play for a year before eventually replacing Jimmy Garoppolo as the starter. Injuries occurred, the 49ers stumbled on Brock Purdy and Lance is now a backup in Dallas. 

Obviously, Atlanta’s situation could turn out much differently than what played out in San Francisco. But this partnership is already off to a rocky start after failing to inform Kirk Cousins of the pick in a timely fashion. What if Penix is thrust to play immediately if Cousins suffers an injury? Will the Falcons prepare for that scenario by having Penix take snaps with the first-team offense during training camp and regular-season practices? If the Falcons truly want to make this a succession plan, they need to put themselves in awkward situations to prepare for all scenarios. 

Apr 25, 2024; Detroit, MI, USA; LSU Tigers wide receiver Malik Nabers poses with NFL commissioner
With the Giants' quarterback struggles of recent years, will Nabers be able to reach his full potential in New York? / Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

3. Malik Nabers, WR, New York Giants

I absolutely love this pick for the Giants because you can’t teach the type of explosiveness Nabers possesses. For the past seven years, we have seen various teams attempt to draft the next Tyreek Hill, but only a few have come close to that, including the Cincinnati Bengals with Ja’Marr Chase and the 49ers with Deebo Samuel. It’s a luxury to have a player who creates matchup nightmares for defenses and one who’s capable of turning quick completions into 60-yard touchdowns. 

But there are a few risks with adding Nabers. He lacks size at 6'0" and 200 pounds, which could be a factor if teams prevent him from utilizing his blazing speed. As for the biggest concern, will the Giants help Nabers reach his highest potential? They have quarterback issues with Daniel Jones and they might not have enough weapons to take the attention away from Nabers—Darius Slayton is the No. 2 option. The Giants are going to need coach Brian Daboll to design creative plays, especially if Jones has another pedestrian season. 

2.  Jayden Daniels, QB, Washington Commanders

The comparisons to Lamar Jackson are well earned because Daniels is the only player in FBS history to pass for at least 12,000 yards and rush for 3,000 yards. His athleticism likely set him apart from Drake Maye, especially with coach Dan Quinn knowing well how difficult it is to game plan for signal-callers who can extend plays and gain yards on the ground. 

But Daniels, who has a slim frame at 210 pounds, will need to learn how to avoid hits in the NFL and develop precise timing on when to take off running. For the most part, Jackson has done that in the NFL, but he’s had his fair share of injuries. Also, the Commanders haven’t gotten much right since the 1990s and they don’t deserve the benefit of the doubt just because they have new ownership and decision makers. If Daniels displays durability, we could definitely see the No. 2 pick play up to the Jackson comparisons. 

1. J.J. McCarthy, QB, Minnesota Vikings

McCarthy might have the best surroundings among the first-round quarterbacks, including what Williams has in Chicago. The Vikings get the nod over the Bears because the coaching staff, led by Kevin O’Connell, has proven they can produce a dynamic offense and they have Justin Jefferson.

McCarthy doesn’t have to be a star signal-caller to turn the Vikings into a playoff team, but teams don’t use top-10 picks on safe game managers. McCarthy received plenty of draft hype because his low volume of throws in a run-heavy Michigan offense somehow gave him more upside because there’s a bit of mystery as to how much the 21-year-old can improve. He doesn’t have the skill set of Maye, the experience of Penix and isn’t as good of a creator as Williams and Daniels.

That could explain why he was the fifth quarterback taken in the NFL draft. But as a top-10 pick, the Vikings can’t afford McCarthy to be the fifth-best quarterback when it’s all said and done. The bar is set high for McCarthy and we’ll soon learn whether he had the most upside among his peers or he’s just a serviceable signal-caller with limitations. The Vikings are hoping for the former.

Gilberto Manzano