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NFL Draft Grades 2024

The 2024 NFL Draft is done – time for the annual draft grades.

First things first: It was a better draft than in recent years. My draft grades are usually far stricter compared to other outlets because I try to look past the sheer sum of prospects and evaluate the overall impression – that I appear at the bottom of Rene Bugner’s overall rankings has become an annual tradition. 2020 was no different than 2021, 2022 and 2023.

In all of these years, my rating was roughly between 2.2 and 2.4, which corresponds to an average grade of C+.

Is it because of my advancing age and thus higher leniency that I give an average grade of about 2.6 this time, roughly a B- for the NFL?

I don’t think so. Because even if there are still a few really convincing draft classes where I believe the teams know what they are doing and the good moves are not just pure coincidence, the really disastrous studs were a rarity this time.

Even the most criticised pick of all (you know who I mean: Michael Penix) I see more positively than three quarters of Twitter. This pick, a highly drafted quarterback, is one of the moves I’ve rethought the most in recent years.

Where in 2020 the Chargers’ Justin Herbert wasn’t even enough to keep me from a grade of F, last year even the insane Will Anderson trade wasn’t enough to keep the Texans from moving up – after all, I thought the QB upside was too good. So the Falcons get away with it again this time. But more on that below.

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Evaluation method

I’m not someone who ‘scouts’ players very intensively. I look at the most important prospects. Otherwise, I read and follow the pre-draft process in a filtered way and try to get as rounded a picture of the class as possible.

There are enough scouts who do a demonstrably good job overall. The following grades are based primarily on the following focal points:

  1. What positions did teams draft in rounds 1+2+3? Positional value is proven to be one of the most important criteria. It’s not just about drafting stupidly valuable positions – I also look at which positions are the strengths and weaknesses of the class.
  2. What does the net trade balance look like? Particularly bad trades are rated especially negatively. I weigh expensive trade-ups more heavily than massive trade-downs because the input usually comes more from the ‘buyer’. All trades except the abstruse Panthers/Colts running back trade in round 2 are listed in this thread by Joseph Hefner.
  3. How do the prospects look weighted to Arif Hasan’s last consensus board? I cut after 100-150 picks because the late rounds are usually wild. Day 3 is honestly almost always a shot in the dark. I weight ‘reaches’ much more negatively than I reward ‘steals’ – there is also evidence for this.
  4. ‘Vibes’: What is the overall impression of the class? The Patriots, for example, had quite a few reaches, but to follow up a rookie QB pick with four offensive snaps is good self-assessment. Bills have realised that they are a trade-down team, even if it hasn’t brought them immense draft capital. Lions are brimming with overconfidence and overcorrection.
  5. Track Record: There aren’t many teams I believe that their draft results aren’t a fluke. But I do believe some of them.

Is the method ‘scientific’? Nope. But it’s enough to get an overall impression of what the individual teams were thinking, where they saw themselves, which ideas I thought were good and which were less good. There are only whole scores. Four ‘tiers’ are enough to describe the 2024 draft.

Grade A

  • Chicago Bears
  • Cincinnati Bengals
  • Kansas City Chiefs
  • Los Angeles Chargers
  • Philadelphia Eagles

The Bears are the biggest winner of this draft. They didn’t have it too tough with two top-10 picks, but they didn’t squander their once-in-a-lifetime opportunity – and for that they deserve my respect.

Caleb Williams was the undisputed QB1. Rome Odunze was the right pick at #9, and I’ll write more about the ‘scheme fit’ and what to expect from the Bears in terms of content. Adding offensive tackle in round 3 was okay, and even though a punter pick in round 4 might seem a bit ‘rich’: Caleb & Odunze alone are enough for the A.

I expect an exciting team in 2024, and as good as the framework is already, we could be talking about the NFC top favourite in Chicago in 2025. I’m a Lions fan, but: call me excited when I think about the Bears’ future.

The Bengals have quietly morphed into one of the more stable draft teams in recent years. Their first picks were all value picks: offensive tackle (Amarius Mims), defensive tackle (Kris Jenkins) and a wide receiver with character issues but high upside (Jermaine Burton) in the middle of round 3. Those are picks I want to see from a team with a franchise QB on the second contract – not trade ups with violence or linebacker picks to address ‘needs’.

The Chargers are the third compelling team. Whether they were right not to draft a receiver at #5 is debatable – but an elite offensive tackle prospect is always good ‘value’ early in the draft, especially in a class that was considered particularly deep at wide receiver. Joe Alt is one such super prospect.

The receiver came at the beginning of Round 2: Ladd McConkey. The trade up for McConkey cost the Chargers next to nothing. Round 3 for a linebacker (Junior Colson) isn’t a bad range either.

Taking the value on the table, not doing anything stupid, getting receivers with separation skills: that’s enough for the highest grade in the NFL.

Chiefs and Eagles are the shaky candidates, but I still rewarded them with an A because I believe that they basically have a reasonable ‘process’.

Howie Roseman is not a particularly good drafter, but he is an excellent wheeler & dealer, and he got the Eagles the total value of a mid 1st/early 2nd round pick with seven trade downs in a total of nine (!) trades – including two future 3rd rounders for this year’s 4th rounders.

Are the prospects all convincing? No – EDGE Jalyx Hunt at the end of Round 3 is an odd pick, a tweener who was more likely to be seen in the 5th round according to the consensus board.

In return, the Eagles address cornerback twice in Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean, and only pay a minimal premium for DeJean to move up ten spots from #50 to #40. Mitchell in particular is even considered a super ‘fit’ for DefCoord Vic Fangio’s scheme – and whenever the Eagles had good cornerbacks in addition to their scaffolding in the ‘trenches’, they were Superbowl candidates (see: 2017/18 and 2022/23).

I’d be interested to see what draft pick Roseman would be worth in the hypothetical case where he gets traded himself. Howie is not a particularly good scout – numerous Eagles picks flop. His strength is trading and bartering – but that’s more ‘good craft’ than ‘special art’ – so it’s actually pretty easy to replicate (no offence to craftsmen).

Most readers of this blog would be able to do what Howie does year in and year out. But hardly any other NFL GM does similar things to Howie – because nobody dares. What’s that worth? A 3rd rounder? Or even a 1st, because just doing it is enough, and Howie got a 1st?

The Chiefs draft essentially consists of just two picks: WR Xavier Worthy late in round 1, OT Kingsley Suamataia late in round 2. GM Brett Veach engineered a small trade up for both, paying the equivalent of a late 7th rounder for each (so basically nothing).

Both prospects are a bit special: Worthy is a speed freak, Suamataia a ‘size outlier’. But the fact that the Chiefs draft the most valuable positions with their highest peaks has been a recurring theme throughout Veache’s draft process for a few years now, and the fact that they’re drafting a wide receiver again now, as requested, is something I interpret particularly positively and am inclined to look past the otherwise somewhat thin class due to only two picks in the first three rounds.

Conclusion

That’s all for now. Follow along to read the rest of my detailed analysis of the 2024 NFL Draft grades. This year has certainly been interesting, with some standout performances and strategic picks that could shape the future of several teams. As always, my evaluations strive to go beyond surface-level impressions, focusing on the strategic depth and potential long-term impacts of each pick.

Stay tuned for a more in-depth breakdown of each team’s draft decisions and my comprehensive rankings.

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Priyanka Chaudhary
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