2024 NFL Draft Grades: AFC, Steelers and Patriots earn top marks

Baltimore Ravens: B+

The Ravens opened the draft by nabbing Nate Wiggins, a thin man-coverage corner who will need to add some weight to his frame to be a true CB1 in the pros. Luckily for him, Marlon Humphrey is signed to a long-term deal, meaning Wiggins has a few years to adjust to the NFL’s speed and bulk up before he is the team’s top corner. After beefing up both lines, Baltimore drafted UNC speedster Tez Walker. Walker is a one-trick deep receiver who should slot into a part-time role as a rookie. With Lamar Jackson being the centerpiece of the offense (and the franchise), it would have been nice to see them add a weapon earlier or add more options later. Rashod Bateman and Nelson Agholor are currently projected for starting roles. If the big boards are to be trusted, the Ravens also got one of the biggest steals of the draft in TJ Tampa. The Iowa State corner allowed a hilariously low 54.8 NFL passer rating in his final season of ball and was believed to be a Day Two pick. Arif Hasan’s Big Board—an average of other boards from around the industry that does a good job at predicting draft capital—had Tampa as the No. 55 player in the class.

Buffalo Bills: C-

  • Round 2: No. 33: Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

  • Round 2: No. 60: Cole Bishop, S, Utah

  • Round 3: No. 95: DeWayne Carter, DT, Duke

  • Round 4: No. 128: Ray Davis, RB, Kentucky

  • Round 5: No. 141: Sedrick Van Pran-Granger, C, Georgia

  • Round 5: No. 160: Edefuan Ulofoshio, LB, Washington

  • Round 5: No. 168: Javon Solomon, EDGE, Troy

  • Round 6: No. 204: Tylan Grable, OT, UCF

  • Round 6: No. 219: Daequan Hardy, CB, Penn State

  • Round 7: No. 221: Travis Clayton, OT, England

The Bills moved out of the first round entirely by trading back with the Chiefs to 32 and then again with the Panthers to 33. Both teams took a receiver, the position Buffalo would go on to draft as well. For moving down five spots, watching the position you need drafted twice, and losing the fifth-year option, the Bills didn’t gain much value according to the nerds.

The Bills also got a weird fit with Keon Coleman. The FSU alum has the body—6’1/213—of an outside, X receiver. He plays like a big slot. Coleman only caught a third of his contested catches as a junior but averaged 6.3 yards after the catch per reception. With Curtis Samuel and Khalil Shakir, both slot options, already on the roster, it’s unclear what Coleman’s role will be as a rookie.

Their next two picks were reaches and the third was a push, per Hasan’s big board, but they got tremendous value on Sedrick Van Pran-Granger. A three-year starter at Georgia, PFF graded him as a top 10 center in the country last year. The Bills continued to take shots on offensive linemen including International Pathway Player Travis Clayton, who has never played a down of regulation football in his life. He’s a massive man (6’7/303) with elite speed—a hand-timed 4.79 40-yard dash—so I love the gamble. My biggest issue with Buffalo’s draft is that they took one project at receiver and called it a day at the position. That was after letting Gabe Davis walk in free agency and trading Stefon Diggs. If Coleman doesn’t hit the ground running, they are in trouble.

Cincinnati Bengals: B

Georgia’s massive tackle Amarius Mims (6’8/340) was commonly mocked to the Bengals throughout the draft process and for good reason. He’s a raw prospect with just 20 starts to his name but has elite physical traits. He will likely start his career backing up Trent Brown, giving him time to develop with more practice reps. The Bengals later prepared for life after Tee Higgins, who appears to be entering his final year with the team, by drafting Jermaine Burton. The Bama wideout seemingly had second-round talent that was dragged down by character concerns. That’s always a gamble, but it’s hard to pass up on a 35 percent dominator rating at Alabama.

The Bengals also made it clear that they want to have a pass-catching weapon at tight end. Even with Mike Gesicki—a non-factor as a blocker—on the roster, they drafted two tight ends who specialize as receivers. Erick All posted an absurd 43 percent dominator rating at Iowa in 2023 before tearing his ACL. McLachlan, a former receiver, posted 984 yards in two seasons at Arizona. The Bengals surrounded Joe Burrow with players who can contribute down the line and added to the trenches on both sides of the ball.

Cleveland Browns: C+

  • Round 2: No. 54: Michael Hall Jr., DL, Ohio St.

  • Round 3: No. 85: Zak Zinter, G, Michigan

  • Round 5: No. 156: Jamari Thrash, WR, Louisville

  • Round 6: No. 206: Nathaniel Watson, LB, Mississippi State

  • Round 7: No. 227: Myles Harden, CB, South Dakota

  • Round 7: No. 243: Jowon Briggs, DT, Auburn

Still coming out of the stupor that was the Deshaun Watson trade, the Browns didn’t have a ton of capital in the 2024 draft. They added to an already-elite front seven with Michael Hall Jr. Slightly undersized for a defensive tackle (6’3/290), Hall will begin his career as a rotational player. Zak Zinter will also get some time on the pines before taking over a starting role. His mean streak as a run-blocker is appealing for Cleveland’s ground-based offense. Having bricked on Cedric Tillman, David Bell, and Anthony Schwartz in the draft in the past three years, they also made a savvy move to add Louisville’s Jamari Thrash, a strong YAC producer and likely slot receiver at the next level. The Browns ultimately added a lot of depth with a light draft class.

Denver Broncos: B-

Draft weekend was a roller coaster for Broncos fans. They opened the festivities with what can only be described as a reach for Bo Nix. Quarterback is the most important position in football and rookie contracts are gold at the position, but Nix’s flaws are hard to reconcile at the cost of the 12th-overall pick. He has an average NFL arm at best and an absurd amount of his production came on screens at Oregon. In his final season, Nix threw for 749 yards and seven scores on screens. On the other hand, Sean Payton’s game plan doesn’t stress arm strength and is designed for QBs who can throw in rhythm and get the ball out quickly. Screens are also integral to his passing attack.

In the second round, Denver grabbed Jonah Elliss hot off a 16-TFL, 12-sack breakout season at Utah. His final season stats were great, but at 6’2/248, he’s pigeonholed into a 3-4 OLB role and won’t be a force in the run game. The Broncos also got the steal of the draft according to many big boards in Troy Franklin. Nix’s teammate in college, the duo wrought havoc in the Pac-12 last year. Franklin went for 1,383 yards and 14 scores while crushing the advanced metrics. Franklin’s svelte frame (6’2/176) and good-but-not-great timed speed at the combine were the likely causes of his draft weekend tumble. Though he may be limited by his size in the NFL, the production is hard to pass on. In fact, the Broncos seemingly valued production more than all but one team this year.

The strategy of getting players who put up elite numbers in college passes the smell test to me. Denver’s middling grade comes down to a lack of patience at the quarterback position.

Houston Texans: B+

Having drafted a bevy of starters in 2023, the Texans had the luxury of trading out of the first round prior to the draft and spending draft capital on a star receiver in Stefon Diggs. In turn, a lot of their draft picks will be depth options for a while. That may not be the case for Kamari Lassiter and Blake Fisher. Lassiter was a two-year starter for Georgia and even contributed as a true freshman. He broke out as a junior with an 87.2 coverage grade per PFF, top-10 in all of FBS, and eight pass breakups. Fisher was a two-year starter at right tackle at Notre Dame. He has adequate size (6'6/310) and athleticism (7.7 RAS) to be a starter early in his career. Given Tytus Howard's struggles, that could happen at some point in 2024.

Cade Stover was high on my tight-end rankings heading into the draft. He won’t see the field much as a rookie but looks the part of a long-term starter in the NFL. Despite picking up tight end only a few years ago, he contributed to a star-studded OSU passing attack and is a willing blocker. It wasn’t a flashy draft from the Texans, but they got the job done.

Indianapolis Colts: B

Perennially in love with athletic marvels, the 2024 draft was no different for the Colts. They landed the first defender of the class with UCLA’s Laiatu Latu. That is the latest the first defender of a class has ever been drafted. Latu posted elite numbers in college, tallying 21.5 TFLs and 13 sacks in his final season. There are health and size concerns with Latu, but he plays with unparalleled speed off the edge, even for his 6’5/259 frame.

Adonai Mitchell was frequently mocked in the first round and had a betting line of 27.5 heading into Thursday. Character concerns that were prevalent in reports and on tape caused him to fall, but the Colts took the plunge well after his “ADP”.

One of the greatest combine warriors in recent memory, Mitchell made absurd plays in college at a high clip while also going MIA for drives and even entire games. Still, his traits jump off the tape and his deep boundary speed will pair perfectly with Anthony Richardson’s cannon of an arm.

The Colts are currently slated to start former seventh-round pick Rodney Thomas at safety this year. He hasn’t impressed through two seasons and will now have Alabama’s Jaylin Simpson to compete with. Simpson played cornerback for Alabama for a few years before finding a full-time starting role as a safety in 2023. He totaled four interceptions and took one to the house in his final season.

Jacksonville Jaguars: A

  • Round 1: No. 23: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

  • Round 2: No. 48: Maason Smith, DT, LSU

  • Round 3: No. 96: Jarrian Jones, DB, Florida State

  • Round 4: No. 114: Javon Foster, OT, Missouri

  • Round 4: No. 116: Jordan Jefferson, DT, LSU

  • Round 5: No. 153: Deantre Prince, CB, Ole Miss

  • Round 5: No. 167: Keilan Robinson, RB, Texas

  • Round 6: No. 212: Cam Little, K, Arkansas

  • Round 7: No. 236: Myles Cole, EDGE, Texas Tech

The early winners of the trade market, the Jags moved back six spots with Minnesota in round one. They gained a fifth-round pick later in the draft and the Vikings’ third and fourth-round picks in 2025.

Despite moving back, the Jags still got the player they were likely targeting all along in Brian Thomas Jr. BTJ is an outside burner with elite speed and size. He didn’t run a refined route tree in college but was absurdly productive as Jayden Daniels’ primary deep threat. Thomas posted 1,177 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2023. He will take on the Calvin Ridley role as a rookie and should leverage his speed to get more separation than Ridley did last year.

GM Trent Baalke stayed in Baton Rouge for his next pick, taking Maason Smith. The 2023 season was Smith’s first as a starter. He didn’t post eye-popping stats but PFF gave him a top-20 pass-rush grade among all P5 defensive linemen. With so little experience, Smith is a bit of a project with all of the physical tools necessary to round out his game in the NFL.

The Jags found a good two-down runner in Travis Etienne, but his counting stats as a receiver at Clemson haven’t translated to great receiving production or tape in the NFL. Tank Bigsby, drafted last year, was an afterthought. In need of a little juice in their backfield, the Jags took a flier on Texas back Keilan Robinson. He was an undersized and underutilized backup at Texas but has some Tarik Cohen-like traits.

Robinson will play a special teams role to start his career but could be schemed touches on offense as well.

Kansas City Chiefs: B+

The Chiefs paid a nominal fee to move up for Xavier Worthy, one of the fastest players to ever step onto a football field. If the combine is treated as gospel (it’s not but work with me here), Worthy is the fastest ever courtesy of his 4.21 Forty. Mahomes has thrived as a world-class game manager in 2023 but was lacking his signature deep ball, in part because of the talent around him. Worthy can also be a strong YAC producer in a KC offense that prioritizes yards after the catch, but his ability to take the top off a defense and change the outcome of a game in one play is terrifying in the hands of Mahomes.

Not done improving the offense, Kansas City landed a falling Kingsley Suamataia in round two. Suamataia was a top-10 pass blocker in the country in 2023 and posted solid advanced numbers in the prior year, though his acumen in the run game is lacking. He has experience on both sides of the line and will likely start as a rookie.

Kansas City added backups at more positions on offense throughout the draft with a pair of guards and Jared Wiley at tight end. The Chiefs’ defense was arguably the star of their Super Bowl season last year. That could happen again in 2024, but Brett Veach made sure to retool the offense for another run via the draft.

Las Vegas Raiders: B-

  • Round 1: No. 13: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

  • Round 2: No. 44: Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

  • Round 3: No. 77: Delmar Glaze, OT, Maryland

  • Round 4: No. 112: Decamerion Richardson, DB, Mississippi State

  • Round 5: No. 148: Tommy Eichenberg, LB, Ohio State

  • Round 6: No. 208: Dylan Laube, RB, New Hampshire

  • Round 7: No. 223: Trey Taylor, S, Air Force

  • Round 7: No. 229: M.J. Devonshire, CB, Pittsburgh

The Raiders made their offense the priority in this draft, going with two linemen and a tight end who can hold his own as a blocker in the first three rounds. Bowers is an outstanding prospect, arguably the best ever at his position, but his immediate fit in the Vegas offense leaves a lot to be desired. Second-rounder Michael Mayer flashed some play-making potential as a rookie and won’t disappear even with Bowers in the fold.

Jackson Powers-Johnson was a first-round pick on most big boards including Hasan’s, where he sat at 28th overall. PFF graded him as a top-five interior lineman in both of his seasons as a starter and he will be 21 for the entirety of his rookie season.

The Raiders made one final addition to their passing attack late in the draft with running back Dylan Laube. Laube wasn’t an elite runner at New Hampshire but posted video game numbers through the air. He caught 68 balls for 699 yards in his final season.

Los Angeles Chargers: B-

In the first two rounds, the Chargers’ draft boils down to a two-versus-two choice of receiver and tackle. They went with Joe Alt, an outstanding left tackle who will move to the right side in LA, and Ladd McConkey, a speedy and versatile receiver with great efficiency numbers but no breakout season on his resume. The alternative would have been to go with Malik Nabers and a second-round tackle, likely after trading back deep into the second. Given how dreadful their receiver room is and that they have Rashawn Slater as a top-end left tackle already on the roster, I see the Nabers side of the 2v2 as a better allocation of resources.

The Chargers were one of the few teams who could justify a Day Two pick on a running back. They entered the weekend with Gus Edwards and J.K. Dobbins, castoffs from Baltimore, as their top options. First-year GM Joe Hortiz was patient and landed small-school dominator Kimani Vidal in the sixth. Vidal compiled 1,661 yards on 297 carries as a senior. He led the nation in attempts and missed tackles forced.

Miami Dolphins: C+

  • Round 1: No. 21: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

  • Round 2: No. 55: Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

  • Round 4: No. 120: Jaylen Wright, RB, Tennessee

  • Round 5: No. 158: Mohamed Kamara, EDGE, Colorado St.

  • Round 6: No. 184: Malik Washington, WR, Virginia

  • Round 6: No. 198: Patrick McMorris, S, California

  • Round 7: No. 241: Tahj Washington, WR, USC

The Dolphins went to work on their trenches, both sides of which were beaten up via late-season injuries and eventually free agency. On the defensive side of the ball, Christian Wilkins and Andrew Van Ginkel are gone while Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb are both coming off season-ending injuries. In turn, the Dolphins added freak athlete Chop Robinson and small-school producer Mohamed Kamara in rounds one and five respectively.

Miami also made an effort to find a third receiver on Day Three. Malik Washington led the country in receptions and missed tackles forced in 2023. Tahj Washington topped three yards per route run and finished third among P5 receivers with at least 50 targets in YAC per catch.

The big issue with Miami’s draft is the lack of interior linemen. Patrick Paul (6’8/331) is a massive tackle who could eventually take over Terron Armstead's spot, but Miami is currently staring down the barrel of a Liam Eichenberg/Robert Jones guard duo. Given Tua’s struggles out of structure, that feels like a risky plan.

New England Patriots: A-

  • Round 1: No. 3: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

  • Round 2: No. 37: Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

  • Round 3: No. 68: Caedan Wallace, OT, Penn State

  • Round 4: No. 103: Layden Robinson, G, Texas A&M

  • Round 4: No. 110: Javon Baker, WR, UCF

  • Round 6: No. 180: Marcellas Dial, CB, South Carolina

  • Round 6: No. 193: Joe Milton III, QB, Tennessee

  • Round 7: No. 231: Jaheim Bell, TE, Florida State

The Pats took the layup with the third overall pick and selected UNC’s Drake Maye. They received multiple offers to trade down, but Maye there was a clear tier break at quarterback after Maye and many even viewed him as the QB2. He will need some time to develop in the NFL, but he has all of the physical traits of a high-end quarterback and put up elite numbers in college.

New England’s crop of pass-catchers was among the worst in the league heading into the draft. Kendrick Bourne and Pop Douglas were slated to be Maye’s WR1 and WR2 in his first season in the pros. Maye already saw his numbers dip in 2023 when he lost Antoine Green and Josh Downs to the NFL, so a lack of weapons was going to be an obvious concern for him as a rookie. They didn’t ignore this glaring issue and drafted two receivers plus a tight end with their remaining picks. Polk doesn’t have an elite statistical profile but looks like a quarterback’s best friend on tape. He gets open on intermediate routes and moves the chains while also winning contested looks. Polk could be the Pats’ WR1 as a rookie.

Baker and Bell will both be specialists as rookies. Baker is an excellent vertical threat who profiles as a WR3 in the NFL. Bell is a Swiss Army Knife tight end. He played some running back in college and was one of the best YAC producers in the country for multiple years. The Pats landed a franchise quarterback and did their best to surround him with playmakers. You can’t ask for much more.

New York Jets: C-

  • Round 1: No. 11: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

  • Round 3: No. 65: Malachi Corley, WR, Western Kentucky

  • Round 4: No. 134: Braelon Allen, RB, Wisconsin

  • Round 5: No. 171: Jordan Travis, QB, Florida St.

  • Round 5: No. 173: Isaiah Davis, RB, South Dakota St.

  • Round 5: No. 176: Qwan’tez Stiggers, CB, CFL

  • Round 7: No. 257: Jaylen Key, S, Alabama

The Jets were destined to take a tackle in the first round after watching Aaron Rodgers go down to a torn Achilles four snaps into his first season in New York. Olu Fashanu could step in immediately at right tackle or could serve as a high-end backup to both Morgan Moses and Tyron Smith. Fashanu was the highest ranked tackle on Hasan's big board and a solid add for the Jets.

The rest of their picks were less coherent. With Breece Hall emerging as one of the best running backs in the league and Israel Abanikanda having intriguing upside as a backup, they opted for two more running backs in Braelon Allen and Isaiah Davis. Both backs have big frames, possibly indicating the Jets want a short-yardage option to give Hall a breather against heavy boxes.

New York’s backup quarterback situation has been a nightmare for years and that was on full display in 2023. Is Jordan Travis the answer to that problem? Right now the Jets have Tyrod Taylor slotted into that role, but Taylor has also been made fo glass bones and paper skin late in his career. If he can stay healthy, Taylor is a solid backup. That gamble hasn't paid off in a while and could be an issue if the Jets are forced to see what they have in Travis early in his career.

I do love the Jets’ gamble on CFL phenom Qwan’tez Stiggers. The jump in competition from Canadian football to the NFL will be steep, but he was in a league of his own up north.

Pittsburgh Steelers: A+

  • Round 1: No. 20: Troy Fautanu, G, Washington

  • Round 2: No. 51: Zach Frazier, C, West Virginia

  • Round 3: No. 84: Roman Wilson, WR, Michigan

  • Round 3: No. 98: Payton Wilson, LB, North Carolina State

  • Round 4: No. 119: Mason McCormick, G, South Dakota State

  • Round 6: No. 178: Logan Lee, DT, Iowa

  • Round 6: No. 195: Ryan Watts, CB, Texas

The Steelers lay claim to my only A+ of the year. Next Gen Stats ranked their class as the second-best this year based on athleticism. The big board value charts all had them as one of the best value hounds of the year as well.

PFF graded Troy Fautanu as a top-five pass-blocking tackle, left or right, in his final season at Washington. He is a left tackle by trade but also has some experience at left guard, giving him some flexibility if the Steelers want to give Dan Moore one more shot at left tackle. Fautanu will take on the left tackle role sooner rather than later and projects as an above-average starter early in his career. They continued adding to their line with Zach Frazier, another strong pass-blocker for the Steelers’ mixed bag of quarterbacks.

Roman Wilson is a down-field chain mover who should be better at generation separation than George Pickens. Though they are both deep threats, the two win in different ways, offering some diversity in the receiving room.

Though the Steelers look like a run-first team on paper, they did a lot to support Russell Wilson and/or Justin Fields via the draft. Even if neither quarterback pans out, the player they draft in 2025 will be thankful for their efforts this year.

Tennessee Titans: C-

  • Round 1: No. 7: JC Latham, OT, Alabama

  • Round 2: No. 38: T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

  • Round 4: No. 106: Cedric Gray, LB, North Carolina

  • Round 5: No. 146: Jarvis Brownlee Jr., CB, Louisville

  • Round 6: No. 182: Jha’Quan Jackson, WR, Tulane

  • Round 7: No. 242: James Williams, S, Miami

  • Round 7: No. 252: Jaylen Harrell, EDGE, Michigan

The Titans were a prime trade back candidate after Joe Alt went off the board to the Chargers, but all reports indicate the trade market dried up after the Patriots locked in Drake Maye. That left the Titans with a choice between a left tackle prospect, Rome Odunze, or JC Latham. Latham is widely considered the best right tackle of the class, but he didn't play on the most important side in college and isn’t likely to do so in the NFL. The Titans, in need of a win on their offensive line after years of failed investments, went with Latham.

T’Vondre Sweat fell on some boards because of a pre-draft DUI. Sweat sat at No. 71 on Hasan’s big board. Taking a player with a pre-draft blunder as notable as Sweat’s that early feels like a clear misstep from the Titans.

Tennessee’s coverage unit ranked 26th in PFF’s grading last year. They already made one big move to shore up the ranks by trading for L’Jarius Sneed, but the No. 38 pick used on Sweat would have been the perfect spot to add more firepower at the weak-link system that is a team’s secondary. Cooper DeJean and Kool-Aid McKinstry, both of whom were frequently mocked in the first round, were available when the Titans took the podium for the second time.

They wound up with a pair of defensive backs who will likely begin their career on special teams. James Williams is also a candidate to move to linebacker in the pros.

The draft was far from a disaster for the Titans, but there are teams that squeeze every ounce of value out of the process and there are those who don’t. I see Tennessee in the second group.