2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Recap: Chargers and Bills draft wide receivers

Bills get their receiver with FSU’s Keon Coleman

Having traded down twice already, the Bills’ draft pick accumulation came to an end at pick 33 when they took Florida State’s Keon Coleman. After losing Gabe Davis in free agency and trading Stefon Diggs, Bills GM Brandon Beane had to address the position in a class stocked with receiver talent. The Bills made a high-upside gamble with no clue chip prospects on the board. Coleman is a contested target earner on the outside who does a surprising amount of damage after the catch given his towering 6’3/213 frame. He does, however, struggle to create downfield separation. Coleman made it clear that wouldn’t change in the NFL with a 4.61 40-yard dash. His calling could ultimately be as a big slot in Buffalo, allowing him to leverage his size for easy grabs. Though Coleman won’t solve the Bills’ receiver woes overnight, he gives them a step in the right direction as they attempt to knock off the Chiefs in the AFC.

Chargers pair Justin Herbert with Ladd McConkey

After passing on LSU’s Malik Nabers in favor of offensive tackle Joe Alt at No. 5 overall, the Chargers were not leaving Day Two of the draft without a weapon for Justin Herbert. They even moved up a few picks to get their guy in Ladd McConkey. At 6’/186, the Georgia alum will play a mix of slot and Z for the Chargers. McConkey has the route-running prowess of an inside receiver but the speed and burst of a flanker, making him extremely versatile. He is also a willing run-blocker, which you better believe Jim Harbaugh loves. Even though Harbaugh is philosophically committed to his ground-and-pound ways, getting paired with Herbert is a dream come true for a rookie wideout. With Mike Williams and Keenan Allen out of the picture, the landing spot alone will send McConkey’s dynasty stock to the moon.

Pats give Drake Maye a weapon in Ja’Lynn Polk

Maye was universally viewed as the QB3 or better of the class, with both the Giants and Vikings offering multiple firsts for the No. 3 pick.

While that’s great for Maye’s prospect evaluation, it doomed him to a landing spot that featured Kendrick Bourne and Demario Douglas as his top receivers. The Pats made an effort to rectify this by nabbing Washington’s Ja’Lynn Polk at No. 37. Polk doesn’t have an elite trait that carries his game but is a polished receiver and a quarterback’s best friend. Maye should have no issue locking onto Polk as a chain-mover early in his career.

Panthers steal Jonathon Brooks from Dallas

The Cowboys flaunted their love of Texas running back Jonathon Brooks after the first round with owner Jerry Jones saying he was “high high high” on their board. Though the Panthers may have always been eying Brooks early in the second, Jones showing his hand certainly didn’t increase his odds of landing the stud runner. Instead, Brooks joins a Carolina offense betting it all on head coach Dave Canales fixing Bryce Young. The team has already added plenty of help at receiver and in the trenches, but that doesn’t guarantee Young will figure things out. Brooks, still recovering from a torn ACL, could take until midseason to pull away from Chuba Hubbard and Miles Sanders. By then, the only limiting factor on his fantasy output will be the potency of the Panthers’ offense.

Adonai Mitchell’s slide ends in Indianapolis

The supposed problem child of the receiver class, Mitchell’s character was put under a microscope throughout the draft process. The tape showed a lack of effort at times and the behind-the-scenes reporting didn’t do Mitchell any favors either. These factors caused the superhuman athlete to tumble down the board, just don’t let Colts GM Chris Ballard hear that.

It’s genuinely refreshing to see Ballard go to bat for the young man. His comments on Mitchell’s interviews suggest the Colts don’t see the diva that was portrayed in the media. Mitchell has all of the physical tools necessary to thrive in the NFL. He ran a 4.34 Forty at 6’3/205 and crushed the burst metrics. Mitchell wins on the outside and can make jaw-dropping contested grabs on throws well beyond his frame. The move to draft him suggests a stark shift away from the shallow passing attack Gardner Minshew led last year. Expect the Colts to lean into Anthony Richardson’s cannon of an arm more in 2024.

Ben Sinnott is the first of two Day Two tight ends

Only two tight ends went on the second day of the draft: Kansas State’s Ben Sinnott and Wisconsin’s Tip Reiman. The latter is a run-blocker with average juice as a receiver. Sinnott, on the other hand, looks like a future fantasy option at the position. He made a name for himself at KSU as a walk-on fullback early in his career before transitioning to tight end full-time. Sinnott went for 676 yards and six scores in his final season. He then crushed the combine.

Sinnott will be mixed in with Zach Ertz as a rookie, capping him at TE2 fantasy numbers if he hits the ground running. Dynasty managers should look to the future and view him as the second-best tight end of the class.

Jets take “this year’s Deebo” in Malachi Corley

“This year’s Deebo” is a red herring invented by Kyle Shanahan to get other teams chasing Laviska Shenault types. With that being said, Western Kentucky’s Malachi Corley does share some traits with the star receiver. Corley averaged an absurd 8.2 yards after the catch per reception in college and broke 55 tackles in his final two seasons. WKU’s offense was designed around getting Corley the ball as soon as possible and letting him run with it. That means his route tree is virtually nonexistent and he will need time to hone his craft. As a rookie, Corley will be schemed touches as an underneath option for Aaron Rodgers.

Cardinals land James Conner replacement with Trey Benson

Benson was a contender for the RB1 of the class but ultimately fell to the top of the third round. He is an elite big-play threat who broke a 15-yard run on 12 percent of his carries in two years as Florida State’s starter. For reference, Bijan Robinson, Jahmyr Gibbs, and Breece Hall all had breakaway rates well below 10 percent in their careers. The downside to this is that Benson was a true committee back in college, never seeing even half of his backfield’s carries in a season. Benson will begin his career in a similar role in Arizona, spelling James Conner while occasionally busting the long play. If Conner slows down in his age-29 season, Benson could emerge as a breakout in the second half of his rookie campaign.

Marshawn Lloyd and Blake Corum become premier backups

The next two backs off the board profile as pure backups for the entirety of their rookie seasons. USC’s Marshawn Lloyd has elite burst and good top-end speed once he turns the corner, fittingly earning the newly minted Packer frequent comparisons to Aaron Jones. The Packers were always infatuated with the idea of Jones but seemingly grew frustrated with his nagging injuries in recent seasons. A bloated salary in 2024 didn’t help either and the team cut him this offseason. This time around, it’s safe to assume the Packers will treat their sportscar running back with more caution. Josh Jacobs, signed to a four-year, $48 million contract in March, will dominate the touches for Green Bay in 2024, with Lloyd contributing the occasional splash play but not much else.

Moving to the west coast, the Rams added Michigan’s Blake Corum hot off a 27-touchdown season that culminated in a National Championship victory. Corum posted good efficiency numbers in 2022 before suffering a season-ending knee injury. He wasn’t the same back in his final season and his efficiency numbers all bottomed out. Even if he never fully recovers, Corum has a nose for the end zone and is a fundamentally sound runner. A goal line role as a rookie is on the table. If he operates as the short-yardage hammer for Sean McVay, Kyren Williams' touchdown-juiced fantasy numbers will careen into the RB2 zone.

Bengals and Bucs add explosive WR3s

For now, the Bengals and Bucs both have elite receiver duos. Mike Evans just signed a two-year deal and Ja’Marr Chase is scheduling the Brink’s truck as we speak. Tee Higgins and Chris Godwin, on the other hand, are both free agents at the end of the 2024 season. For Cincy, Alabama’s Jermaine Burton will begin his career as a part-time deep threat, allowing Chase to move into the slot while he and Higgins play on the outside. Burton posted nearly 800 yards and eight scores while earning an elite 35 percent College Dominator as Bama’s top receiver in 2023.

His biggest issues in the draft process were always believed to be off the field. Unphased, the Bengals made a bet on talent above all else. Burton will still leave the field for two-receiver sets in a star-studded Cincy lineup, but he should contribute a few big plays as a rookie.

The Bucs landed Washington’s third and final NFL-caliber receiver, Jalen McMillan, with the No. 92 pick. McMillan manned the slot in college and will keep that role in Tampa Bay. He’s a good separator on deep routes and has steady hands. His game isn’t overly flashy, but he should push Trey Palmer for reps.

Steelers and Commanders add firepower

Pittsburgh and Washington have less appealing passing attacks than the previous two teams. They make up for that with a lack of established receivers. The Steelers had George Pickens—an unknown quantity trending in the right direction—and next to nothing else at wideout heading into the draft. They added Michigan’s Roman Wilson with pick No. 84. Like Pickens, Wilson is a deep ball artist. He had a 14.1 career aDOT and scored 12 times as a senior. Though there is some overlap in their skill sets, Wilson is better at earning separation than Pickens but doesn’t come with a freakish catch radius or elite jump-ball prowess.

With the final selection of the night, Washington made a surprising pick and added Luke McCaffrey, brother of CMC. The former quarterback only picked up the wide receiver position two years ago. Though he is still raw in a lot of areas, McCaffrey took to the position quickly, posting 129 receptions for 1715 yards and 19 touchdowns in two seasons as a receiver at Rice. McCaffrey will start with slot duties in Washington as he and Jayden Daniels work through their transition to the NFL in tandem.