NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: Five sleepers to watch at the 2024 NFL Scouting Combine

2PEBHK0 Texas Tech defensive back Tyler Owens (18) in coverage during the TaxAct Texas Bowl NCAA college football game against Mississippi, Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, in Houston. Texas Tech University won 42-25. (Aaron M. Sprecher via AP)

• Kentucky’s Trevin Wallace: While projected as a seventh-round pick, the linebacker is one of the best athletes in the draft and should prove that at the Combine.

• Notre Dame’s Javontae Jean-Baptiste: The sixth-year edge defender could move up draft boards with a strong showing in Indianapolis.

• Draft and trade for yourself: Try PFF's Mock Draft Simulator — trade picks and players and mock for your favorite NFL team.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

The 2024 NFL Scouting Combine, the biggest pre-draft event, begins this week. The top 2024 NFL Draft prospects will gather in Indianapolis to interview with teams, undergo medical checks and, most notably, perform in various on-field drills.

While a prospect’s college tape is the backbone of their scouting report, a strong performance at the “Underwear Olympics” could significantly boost one's stock. Here are five under-the-radar players who could move up draft boards after showing off their elite athleticism.

LB Trevin Wallace, Kentucky Wildcats

Wallace is currently ranked 246th on PFF’s 2024 NFL Draft big board, making him a seventh-round prospect. While he struggled as a run defender over the past two years (56.8 run-defense grade since 2022), he flashed in coverage and as a pass rusher. He picked off two passes in 2022, tied for the most among SEC linebackers. His eight sacks over the past two seasons tied for sixth in that same group.

The junior placed 11th on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” back in August, which ranks the best athletes in college football. According to Feldman, Wallace runs 22 mph on the GPS and his vertical jump is 38.5 inches. The latter number would place him in the 93rd percentile for linebackers. Since athleticism is so important at the position, a stellar Combine could push Wallace up draft boards.

S Tyler Owens, Texas Tech Red Raiders

Like Wallace, Owens is a seventh-round prospect on PFF’s big board, at No. 250 overall. After three years at Texas, the fifth-year senior played his past two at Texas Tech. He was a versatile chess piece for the Red Raiders, logging at least 150 snaps each in the box, at free safety and at slot cornerback. His five forced incompletions in 2023 tied for seventh among Big 12 safeties.

Owens was No. 29 on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List.” At 6-foot-2 and 205 pounds, he was clocked at 23 mph in a game and has a vertical jump of over 40 inches. Even a vertical of “just” 40 inches would place him in the 91st percentile for safeties.

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WR Bub Means, Pittsburgh Panthers

Means began his college career as a defensive back at Tennessee before transferring to Louisiana Tech and moving to wide receiver. He transferred again in 2022, this time to Pittsburgh, and had his best year yet in 2023. The redshirt senior led the Panthers with 718 receiving yards, and his 11 contested catches tied for the second most in the ACC. He was mostly used as a deep threat, with his five receiving touchdowns on 20-plus yard throws tying for the ninth most among Power Five receivers.

Means came in at 36th on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List.” He can reportedly run a 4.36-second 40-yard dash and vertical jump 39 inches at 6-foot-2 and 215 pounds. Means isn’t listed among the 320 prospects on PFF’s big board, making him the definition of a sleeper prospect. If he puts up those eye-popping numbers in Indianapolis, he will almost surely hear his name called in April.

WR Anthony Gould, Oregon State Beavers

Gould is a smaller receiver at 5-foot-8 and 165 pounds, which should limit him to a slot-only role at the next level. But what he lacks in size he makes up for in separation ability. Gould was charted as being open on 78.4% of his targets this past season, ranking in the 78th percentile among receivers.

He was a PFF first-team All-American in 2022 as a punt returner and finished second in the 100-meter dash in high school, recording a time of 10.66 seconds. The redshirt junior could end up being the fastest player in the 40-yard dash this year. Gould is currently a sixth-round prospect on PFF’s big board, at No. 192 overall.

EDGE Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Jean-Baptiste spent the first five years of his college career playing sparingly at Ohio State before becoming a starter at Notre Dame this past season. He was at his best in the run game, earning an 85.4 run-defense grade that placed fourth among Power Five edge defenders. The sixth-year senior was a respectable pass rusher, as well, finishing with 38 pressures in 2023.

Jean-Baptiste was 82nd on Bruce Feldman’s “Freaks List” after posting a broad jump of 10 feet and 5 inches and a vertical of 35 inches last offseason at 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds. That broad would place him in the 90th percentile for edge defenders, while the vertical would be in the 71st percentile. He also reportedly hit 20-plus mph on the GPS. Like Means, Jean-Baptiste isn’t currently on PFF’s big board, but he will be soon if he can produce those numbers this week.

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