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Two Former Pitt Panthers Named 2024 NFL Draft Sleepers

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Pitt wide receiver Bub Means.

There were three Pitt Panthers selected in the 2024 NFL Draft, but there are two that stand out to USA Today as sleepers.

Matt Goncalves was selected by the Indianapolis Colts in the third round of the draft, but Bub Means and M.J. Devonshire weren’t selected until the fifth and seventh rounds, respectively.

Means and Devonshire matched up every day in practice over the past two seasons, battling at the point of attack, and it wound up making the two (future) NFL players that much better. There were legitimate battles. So, it’s not all that surprising that they’ve made it to the NFL level.

Doug Farrar of USA Today named Means and Devonshire as his sleeper picks for the New Orleans Saints and Las Vegas Raiders, respectively.

The Raiders selected Devonshire with the 229th pick (seventh round) of the 2024 NFL, becoming the third Panther selected behind Goncalves and Means.

He finished the 2023 season with 32 tackles (18 solo), 0.5 tackles for loss, four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) and 10 pass breakups. He was a workhorse in 2023, taking a team-high 662 defensive snaps, and according to PFF, he allowed just a 47.4 completion percentage when targeted by opposing quarterbacks.

And on the night that Darrelle Revis returned to Pittsburgh to be inducted into the Pitt Athletics Hall of Fame, serving as an honorary captain before the Louisville game, Devonshire showed up in a major upset win.

Louisville quarterback Jack Plummer targeted Devonshire 14 times Saturday night. 14. And Devonshire allowed just four completions for 34 yards, broke up five pass attempts and picked off Plummer once — returned for a touchdown.

In his Pitt career, following his first two seasons at Kentucky, he finished with 83 tackles (51 solo), 1.5 tackles for loss, eight interceptions (three returned for touchdowns) and 21 pass breakups. And he was an All-ACC punt returner in 2022.

The Saints selected Means with the 170th pick (fifth round) in the 2024 NFL — the second Panther to be selected following Goncalves.

He hauled in 68 receptions for 1,122 yards (16.5 yards per reception) and eight touchdowns during his Pitt career, and he broke out as the leading receiver last season. It was a tale of two halves last season. He caught 41 balls for 721 yards and six touchdowns last season, but 650 yards and all six touchdowns came over the final eight games — averaging 81 receiving yards per game. And after an 11-target, 0-catch performance against Cincinnati in Week 2, many questioned whether or not Means had what it took to cut it at Pitt. He didn’t.

“This is football so at the end of the day, I’m a competitor,” Means told PSN in January. “So, that game did bother me a little bit, but it didn’t bother me like, it’s gonna shock my confidence. No, I went back to work. That made me want to get better; that made me want to get back in the lab. It made me hungry. I don’t like when everything goes my way all the time because life isn’t like that, sometimes you need games like that to wake you up.”

Means, and Pitt as a whole, had a tough game against Cincinnati. And there was no instant fix. He had just six catches for 71 yards through the first four games of the season. He found the answer, though, even through three different quarterbacks, he found the answer. He hit the 71-yard mark in all but one of his next eight games.

Means showcased a lot of potential down the stretch, serving as one of the best wide receivers in the ACC, and he banked on that showing to earn a place in the NFL. He has the raw potential. It’s about showing the NFL he can do it now.

“I just felt like I did everything I could in college,” Means said. “And I’m ready to take the next step to the next level. I feel like the feedback I got was decent enough for me to come out, that’s all it was. I’m just betting on myself.”

Sandy Schall, Coldwell Banker
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Menotyou
Menotyou
19 days ago

I agree with Devonshire but Means short armed and even stopped running across the middle alot last season. I watched him at the FSU game and I wanted them to cut him right there. If he was running a drag and he saw zone he flat out quit on the route to make sure the ball didn’t come his way.

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