With the majority of impactful offseason moves complete, it’s time to turn to the upcoming season. We’ve decided to keep the optimism from draft season going by talking about breakout players for 2024. 

To keep things simple, we’re just looking for players who haven’t yet made a Pro Bowl but who we think might this year. Some of these selections take into consideration the depth at the position in that player’s conference, but every player has shown hallmarks of opportunity and production that suggest they could take a leap this year.

The SIS Football R&D crew of former NFL scout (and SIS COO) Matt Manocherian, our director of football analytics, Alex Vigderman, and research analysts James Weaver and Bryce Rossler, named their choices via a draft format, and they each provided their own notes below (with some occasional commentary from others sprinkled in).

 To listen along with their selections, check out this Off the Charts Football Podcast episode.

  1. Matt Manocherian – Rashan Gary, Packers EDGE

Who made these rules? This is the easiest pick. It’s so easy that it’s uninteresting. I’m not sure how it’s possible that Gary hasn’t made a Pro Bowl yet, but this seems like a matter of time. 

One of my favorite metrics for pass rushers is Pressure Rate Above Expectation (Pressure % +/-), which looks at how often a pass rusher in a given situation and alignment creates pressure compared to an average player in that context. Gary has been among the leaders in this stat for each of the last three seasons, and that doesn’t even reflect the 10 holding penalties that he drew over that time. 

Gary is 26 years old and was 5th among linebackers in Pass Rush Total Points in 2023. If he can stay healthy and play with some leads this year, it feels more likely than not that he ends up in the Pro Bowl.

2. Alex Vigderman – Jayden Reed (or Dontayvion Wicks), Packers WR

Reed and Wicks were each taken by the Packers in the 2023 Draft, and they proceeded to have identical per-play production. They were within 0.1 yards per route run of each other, and had identical Total Points per route run to three decimals. 

Coming out of the draft, I viewed them as possible overachievers based on their (also nearly identical) performance against press coverage and otherwise, which I’ve found to be a positive indicator. So this is a bet on that phenomenon, with Reed winning my vote because we (and the Packers) graded him as a much better prospect.

It also doesn’t hurt that after the bye week last year (Week 6), Jordan Love ranked among the best in passing Total Points per play and first in Boom Percentage (the rate of plays gaining at least 1 EPA).

3. James Weaver – Drake London, Falcons WR

As a Top 10 pick in 2022, London was expected to come in and make an immediate impact to a Falcons offense going through a transition period. The problem has been below-average quarterback play at best and an offensive scheme that has limited his potential.

Even battling those two issues, London still put up 866 and 905 receiving yards in his first two seasons in Atlanta. Now, Kirk Cousins steps in as QB1 and Zac Robinson from the Rams takes over as offensive coordinator, each coming from potent offenses at their previous stops. 

With London’s 6’4” frame, look for him to get more than 7 end zone targets and 2 touchdowns like he had in 2023.

4. Bryce Rossler – Chris Olave, Saints WR

Olave has recorded 1,000-yard seasons in each of his first two seasons with the Saints, but the touchdowns haven’t been there. He had just 8 end zone targets in 2023, which is pretty pedestrian considering the overall volume he sees, but he did rank 5th in deep targets (20+ yards)with 28. An uptick in red zone usage could spell a breakout year for him in 2024.

5. Bryce – Devonte Wyatt, Packers DT

Wyatt didn’t see a lot of playing time in his rookie season, but he flashed considerably in Year 2. He ranked first in Pressure Rate +/- and second in raw pressure rate among DTs last year, and his combination of power and explosiveness is evident on film. He’ll be a better fit under a new defensive coordinator this year, and the staff has already said they’ll let him pin his ears back going forward.

6. James – Bryce Huff, Eagles EDGE

Huff had the best year of his career with the Jets in 2023, recording 10 sacks on 60 pressures and had the 11th-highest Pressure Rate +/- at 5% above expectation. He also accounted for the highest tackle total of his career at 29.

Now part of a talented Eagles defense coordinated by Vic Fangio, look for Huff to take advantage of more 1-on-1 opportunities to get to the opposing quarterback. He will be part of a rotation with Nolan Smith and Josh Sweat and have the opportunity to be fresh when needing to make an impact play.

7. Alex – Martin Emerson Jr., Browns CB

This was the only “Who?” pick of the draft, which comes with pride and shame. Emerson was taken in the 3rd round of the 2022 Draft and has been quietly productive in both of his NFL seasons. He’s been one of the better pass defenders in the league across a few compelling metrics: Total Points per play, Boom Percentage Allowed, and Deserved Catch Rate (an adjusted catch rate accounting for drops and uncatchable passes).

2022 2023
Total Points per play 16th 10th
Boom% Allowed 9th 6th
Deserved Catch Rate 7th 11th

* Among players targeted at least 50 times

8. Matt – Jalen Carter, Eagles DT

You guys really stink at this game. You are making it too easy for me. Jalen Carter didn’t even start on the Eagles’ broken defense last year, and he still was a Will Anderson away from winning Defensive Rookie of the Year.

In terms of advanced stats, Carter was good-but-not-elite last year. With a new defensive staff, a larger role, and an Aaron Donald-sized hole in the conference, I think this will be the first of many Pro Bowls in Carter’s career.

I’m sure Martin Emerson is great though…

9. Matt – Marvin Harrison Jr., Cardinals WR 

(or Bijan Robinson, if you prefer to play by the spirit of the activity)

Seriously?! You made the rules! It’s not my fault that you are all bad at this game. Marvin Harrison Junior has never made a Pro Bowl. How is this pick even controversial?

If you take rookies off the table, Bijan Robinson and Kyle Pitts are attractive picks for me for similar reasons to James’ pick of Drake London. I also like Devone Achane’s chances to take Raheem Mostert’s Pro Bowl spot.

You know what? I take it back. I’m bad at this game. My picks are too good, so they are boring. I prefer the “spirit” of Alex taking Martin Emerson Jr. because he deserves legitimate credit if that dude makes the Pro Bowl.

10. Alex – Jaquan Brisker, Bears S

Brisker shows some markers of being a playmaking safety who puts up a variety of statistics that can wow awards voters. SIS graded him as a probable strong starter coming out of the draft in 2022, so there’s some upside and pedigree here.

He got his hand on the ball (via a pass breakup, forced fumble, etc.) at the second-highest rate of any defender in the league, including 9 pass breakups (second at the position to not-exactly-a-safety Brian Branch). That also included 4 dropped interceptions, which could easily go the other way and make a huge impact.

While he’s not a box safety or anything, he did rush the passer a couple dozen times in 2023, generating pressure almost half the time. If he pairs a few sacks with some turnovers, that’s a recipe for a breakout.

11. James – Chase Brown, Bengals RB

With Joe Mixon out of the picture, Brown will have every opportunity to fight for the RB1 role in a productive offense with Joe Burrow back in the picture. 

Last year as a rookie, Brown started to see an increase in usage from Week 13 on and took advantage. He was tied for third in yards after contact per attempt and eighth in broken or missed tackles per attempt. He will be battling for time with newly acquired Zack Moss, but Brown being in a familiar system in year two will give him a slight advantage.

12. Bryce – Anthony Richardson, Colts QB

Richardson looked like a star in the making before an unfortunate injury derailed his rookie season. He ranked 10th in passing Total Points per play up to the point of his season ending in Week 5–which is pretty good for a rookie–and his ability as a rusher was obvious. Dual threats who produce on the ground tend to get a lot of fanfare, and Richardson is poised to pump the box score in 2024 if he can come back full strength.