2024 NFL Draft: Buyer beware on Bo Nix, Keon Coleman and these other top prospects

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We won’t know this right away, but despite hype that leads to prospects being picked in Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft, a small grouping of selections will go much too early. This happens in every single draft class. 

To warn you about who those prospects may very well be, I’m generating another “Buyer-Beware” prospect list.

While I’m not insinuating these prospects are guaranteed to bust, they’re just the most risky propositions who could still land somewhere in the first round or very early on Day 2. In my estimation, they’ll have a difficult time living up to their draft positions. These are my buyer-beware prospects in the 2024 class. 

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Why: Lacking standout trait(s)

Nix can be categorized as an “incomplete” grade, for two reasons. The system at Oregon was incredibly gimmicky — but incredibly effective — and he threw to an incredible amount of wide-open Duck receivers and tight ends the past two years in Eugene. 

As for the nearly 78% completion percentage, Nix isn’t nearly as accurate as that record-setting rate indicates. Does he have a ball-placement issue? No. But he’s not hyper accurate. There’s an athleticism element to his game. Without question. Will he be a major running threat in the NFL? I can’t envision it.

Now, can Nix be a quality game-manager, who operates within structure soundly? Sure. Will I trust him making challenging throws at the intermediate level or down the field in key moments? No. I didn’t see that from him on a routine basis in either of the last two seasons at Oregon. And I need that confidence from a first-round quarterback. It’s an absolute must. Because of that, and, from afar, Nix not possessing a standout trait, are why I’m placing him on this team.

Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan

Why: Limited pass-rush move arsenal, high pad level, lacking collegiate production

There’s a future reality in which Kneeland becomes one of the best edge rushers in the class, because he’s 6-foot-3, nearly 270 pounds, with over 34-inch arms, a 35.5-inch vertical and a 7.02 three-cone time on his draft resume. In short, objectively, the size and athleticism boxes are checked. 

Despite the ultra-stocky frame, that typically yields serious power, that isn’t the case with Kneeland because his rushes are high. The pad level must dip at the next level to have any semblance of bull-rush ability, the foundational rush for the vast majority of NFL defensive linemen. While he plays “half a man” well — meaning he understands how to work one side of the blocker he’s facing, Kneeland was simply not very productive in the MAC. That’s an issue. He only generated a pressure on 11.6% of pass-rushing opportunities. How’d that happen? Behind the surprisingly power-deficient rushes appearing more often than expected, Kneeland’s hand work is average at best. The pass-rush plans are disorganized or simply not there. 

There’s some buzz Kneeland could be an early second-round pick. That’d be too risky of a proposition in my estimation, although I will say, this edge rusher class severely lacks “depth” on Day 2.

Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State 

Why: Separation problems, inadequate in contested-catch scenarios, lacking speed

Yes, Coleman had the fastest MPH in the gauntlet drill among receivers at the combine. So did Puka Nacua a year ago. While fascinating given the slower 40-yard dash times from each receiver, we can’t forget that some — see: many? — receiver prospects may not be going 100% during the gauntlet drill at the combine. 

And while Coleman doesn’t look 4.61 slow on film, he’s nowhere near burner territory. As a separator at any level, the Michigan State turned Florida State product struggles. Against man coverage, zone — didn’t matter. Then there’s his play in traffic, where he’s supposed to thrive at over 6-foot-3 and 213 pounds. In 2023, he came down with the catch on 10 of his 33 contested-catch scenarios. Not ideal. Far from. 

There are instances when Coleman’s physicality shines on film, near the boundary, after the catch on occasion etc. He’s not undraftable. But I value him much lower than Round 1 or early on the second day of the draft. 

Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE, Texas

Why: Route-running ability, minimal yards after the catch, average athleticism

Sanders was a monster recruit for the Longhorns — 247 Sports’ No. 1 “athlete” in the 2021 high school class. As a reasonably productive tight end at Texas, Sanders demonstrated enviable balance and smoothness for the position. But did he show awesome suddenness or pure speed to get open on a regular basis and run past linebackers and some safeties at the next level? Then, at the combine, what showed on film was confirmed. At just under 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, Sanders ran 4.69 — the third-slowest among tight ends who ran at the combine. Beyond that, his 30-inch vertical he had at the Texas Pro Day ranks in the 17th percentile at the position. His 9-foot-6 broad jump, the 43rd percentile.

It’s not that Sanders is totally stiff without any athletic gifts. It’s that relative to the hype and where he’s ultimately picked — probably somewhere in the middle portions of Round 2, he’s not a freaky specimen. 

Also too, despite the fluidity with the ball in his hands, Sanders wasn’t a major YAC accumulator with the Longhorns, and head coach Steve Sarkisian attempted to get him the ball in space often. Sure, when he had a runway, he’d eat up extra yards, but making defenders miss or drag them down the field. He only forced 11 missed tackles on 99 career collegiate catches, a relatively low rate (11.1%) for the position. 

I don’t hate Sanders, but in what is admittedly a down tight end class after a spectacular one in 2023, I would head in other directions as the second tight end off the board after the obvious No. 1 choice, Brock Bowers from Georgia.

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