5 most volatile 2024 NFL Draft prospects who will make or break GMs

The NFL Draft is a gamble for ever General Manager. The ones that select one of these five players will be making the biggest bet bets in 2024.
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy warms up before the national championship game at NRG Stadium in
Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy warms up before the national championship game at NRG Stadium in / Junfu Han / USA TODAY NETWORK

The success or failure of a first-round NFL Draft pick can go a long way towards influencing the job security of a general manager and their front office. Nailing a Day 1 pick can set a team off toward Super Bowl contention. Selecting a bust in the first round can speed up the timeline for total regime change on a team with no postseason aspirations.

Front offices that greenlight the selection of the following five prospects are taking the biggest gambles in the 2024 NFL Draft. A couple of players on this list might pop and emerge as perennial All-Pros. It's very likely one of two might wash out of the NFL by the time their rookie contract expires.

Fans of teams that end up with any of the following five players should know they are taking on significant risk. It could work out but it could also blow up in the face of their favorite franchise.

5. Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

The former LSU star is going to hear his name called very early on Day 1. It would be a major surprise if he falls outside the Top 5 selections. That does not mean he enters the league without a substantial amount of risk.

The biggest concern about Jayden Daniels is the ability of his thin frame to absorb hits in the NFL. That would not be a a major issue if he wasn't so dependent on his scrambling abiltiy to succeed. Telling Daniels to stop scrambling would take away a major part of what makes him such a tantalizing prospect.

Instead, look for his new coaching staff to try to teach him a healthy amount of discretion. He frequently sought contact down the field at LSU. Doing so in the NFL will make it impossible for him to survive the stress of a 17-game regular season.

Daniels' arm talent and blistering speed also give him the chance to become a superstar. The GM that selects him at the top of the draft will almost certainly have his tenure defined by Daniels' success. The front office that invests a top-five pick in his services needs to be very confident he'll be a top-quality starter.

4. Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

Xavier Worthy has a draft profile that seems to contradict itself. He was a productive wideout at Texas who went over 1,000 yards receiving last year and found the end zone 26 times in three seasons. He also posted the fastest 40-yard-dash time in Combine history with an eye-popping 4.21 seconds in Indianapolis.

That combination should scream top-10 pick. The NFL is obsessed with speed and Worthy combines that with high-level college production. Instead, there's a meaningful chance that Worthy might slip to the top of Round 2 when the draft actually arrives.

That tells savvy fans that there must be something about Worthy's game that scouts aren't in love with. It's likely a combination of his lack of speed and physicality. He's a small wideout that showed no ability to play with force at Texas.

Thow in some ugly drops on his film and it's easy to see why doubt creeps in scouts' minds when they think about spending a first rounder on Worthy. He's going to make some big plays at the next level but his lack of consistency may mean he remains a gadget player rather than an every down starter.

Chop Robinson
Penn State EDGE Chop Robinson / Michael Reaves/GettyImages

3. Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Some NFL talent evaluators watch Chop Robinson's film and have his athleticism conjure up images of Micah Parsons tormenting opponents at Penn State. Critics of the former Nittany Lions' edge rusher point to his paltry sack total of 4.5 last season and express real concern about his ability to be an NFL starter.

Ultimately, the NFL is going to bet on athletic traits just like it always does. That's why Robinson will hear his name called in Round 1. His 4.45-second 40-yard dash at the Combine will be a more important number than his sack total last year.

All of this makes Robinson one of the most classic boom-or-bust prospects in this year's draft class. It's easy to envision him using that blistering speed and becoming a double-digit sack artist next year. It's also possible he'll struggle to get on the field for anything other than an obvious passing down due to his lack of reliable productivity.

Robinson's draft stack is also being artificially buoyed by the lack of top-end guys in this year's class. It's a perfect mix for him to be overdrafted based on what he's actually accomplished. Robinson has star potential but his probability of reaching that status is a big, open question.

2. Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

There is a lot to like about the former Clemson standout's game. Nate Wiggins has electric speed that allows him to be arguably the best pure cover corner in this class. Watching him, turn, run and make decisive plays on the football could easily cause a talent evaluator to fall in love with his game.

The downside to Wiggins is that he's painfully thin. It's easy to see how he might get manhandled by physical wide receivers at the next level. A big-bodied receiver like A.J. Brown might throw Wiggins around like a rag doll if he gets slightly off-balance.

WIggins' lack of physicality also makes him a significant injury risk in the NFL. He got nicked up a couple of times last year at Clemson. He may never be durable enough to play 17 games in a regular season. That shouldn't be a death knell to Wiggins' draft stock but i should be a consideration for teams interested in adding a corner.

Drafting Wiggins in the 20s is a sign of a team that's factoring in his risk correctly. If a GM falls in love with him and goes after him in the top-10 it could be a franchise-damaging mistake. Keep a close eye on where Wiggins goes in Round 1.

1. J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan

J.J. McCarthy's draft stock continues to rise during the pre-draft process. It seems to be a foregone conclusion that he'll be one of the first four quarterbacks chosen. There's even a chance that he'll sneak into the Top 3 if things break right for him during workouts.

That's a lot of hype for a guy who didn't play in a pro-style offense at Michigan. There are valid questions about McCarthy's ability to make NFL throws from the pocket. Even his most ardent supporters would only say he has above-average arm strength.

Combine that with above-average processing and it still doesn't equal a star quarterback. If McCarthy only ends up being the 15-20th best signal-caller in the league it's unclear if he deserves to be a top-four selection.

Arguably the biggest reason why McCarthy is No. 1 on this list is the likelihood that a GM will need to make a big move up the draft board to select him. That amplifies the pressure on McCarthy to pay off to make the transaction look like a prudent decision. The former Michigan star is the biggest risk in this year's draft class.