2024 NFL Draft: Rounds 2 & 3 instant grades

The 2024 NFL Draft rolls on, and hoo boy did we have a lot of fun last night. A record 23 offensive players were selected, the most notable of them being Washington QB Michael Penix Jr. selected by the Atlanta Falcons with the 8th overall pick.

Day 2 is sure to see most of the top defenders start to fly off the board. Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean, Illinois DT Johnny Newton and Alabama corner Kool-Aid McKinstry remain available, although they may come off very early tonight. Another thing to watch is how quickly the receivers fly off the board. Texas’ AD Mitchell, Georgia’s Ladd McConkey and Florida State’s Keon Coleman all are rather high in my top 100 big board, and will be instant starters wherever they’re picked.

Once again, SB Nation will be doing live grades based on our top 100 big board of the best prospects in the draft this year.

33. Buffalo Bills (via Carolina Panthers) – Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

Grade: A

The Bills were able to trade back and still land a receiver. Sounds good to everyone, right? Coleman is a strong, sure-handed receiver whose game speed is much, much faster than his 40 time and wins downfield on contested catches and after the catch. Buffalo’s offense is undergoing a bit of a schematic shift, going for more YAC and winning in the short to intermediate areas than the downfield offense we know them for, and Coleman fits them like a glove.

34. Los Angeles Chargers (via New England Patriots) – Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia

Grade: A+

Now will everyone stop complaining about not picking a receiver at 5? McConkey is such a different type of receiver than Josh Palmer and Quentin Johnston, and is a great fit in the Chargers’ offense. McConkey is an easy separator at every level of the field, despite maybe being more of a slot-only player. Johnston and Palmer can play outside, and McConkey’s efficiency and quickness as a route runner will be a major benefit to Justin Herbert.

35. Atlanta Falcons (via Arizona Cardinals) – Ruke Orhorhoro, DT, Clemson

Grade: C-

Ok, now I’m confused why Illinois DT Johnny Newton is falling. Orhorhoro is a good athlete who is very strong against the run, but the Falcons don’t have any pass rush and are drafting a defensive tackle who is a limited pass rusher right now? Very confusing. Yet, Orhorhoro is a powerful run defender, who while is a rough pass rusher right now, is still growing. They better hope he’s giving them pass rush pop right away though.

36. Washington Commanders – Johnny Newton, DT, Illinois

Grade: A+

This is a steal for the Commanders, getting a three-down defensive tackle with immediate pass rush upside. I understand the foot injury concerns but he’s such a dominant pass rusher that it makes so much sense for the Commanders to make this pick. This might mean Jonathan Allen is out of here, though.

37. New England Patriots (via Los Angeles Chargers) – Ja’Lynn Polk, WR, Washington

Grade: B+

Polk is just an all around good player, man. Incredible blocker, great catch radius and has some refined route running as well. While he’s not spectacular, he’s a really nice fit in New England with a bunch of slot receivers. Playing him outside frees up Kendrick Bourne and Pop Douglas. Really smart, but unspectacular pick.

38. Tennessee Titans – T’Vondre Sweat, DT, Texas

Grade: D+

Man, I don’t know. Sweat is a fantastic, mountain of a run defender who can improve the run defense immediately. However, this doesn’t make sense at all. Sweat is a very limited pass rusher and also doesn’t play a lot of snaps at 340 pounds. The Titans’ run defense is good, but Sweat seems like a major question mark.

39. Los Angeles Rams (via Carolina Panthers) – Braden Fiske, DT, Florida State

Grade: C-

I like Fiske, but wow. They traded a lot of picks to draft another undersized defensive tackle in the hopes that he’s Aaron Donald. While Fiske is a quick player with a high motor, I don’t like the fit in this defense at all. He’s a liability in the run game and is a historic outlier as a player. I just don’t get this pick at all, especially with Michigan DT Kris Jenkins Jr on the board.

40. Philadelphia Eagles (via Washington Commanders) – Cooper DeJean, DB, Iowa

Grade: A+

I’m not a big Howie Roseman advocate, but this is a really, really good first two days for Philadelphia. DeJean is a corner in my eyes, but his route recognition and quick trigger on the ball make him a good fit at corner or safety. Philadelphia needs help literally everywhere in the secondary, and DeJean can be more corner insurance if Bradberry’s trend of play comes down or plays safety next to Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. Love the pick.

41. New Orleans Saints (via Washington Commanders) – Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB, Alabama

Grade: B

McKinstry is a really good fit in Dennis Allen’s defense with his ability in press coverage and patience when defending routes deep. The injury knocked him down the board, but he can bee a really good corner in that defense. What does this mean for the future of Marshon Lattimore?

42. Houston Texans (via Minnesota Vikings) – Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

Grade: A

This is a great fit for the Texans and Lassiter. The former Georgia Bulldog is physical (the best tackling corner in the draft), and plays really well on underneath routes. Houston already has Derek Stingley Jr., now they get him a good running mate in Lassiter.

43. Arizona Cardinals (via Atlanta Falcons) – Max Melton, CB, Rutgers

Grade: B-

This is a solid, if unspectacular pick by the Cardinals. Melton is a tough corner who really lit up the Combine. With the run on corners seemingly happening now, Arizona was smart to come up and get one.

44. Las Vegas Raiders – Jackson Powers-Johnson, C, Oregon

Grade: C-

I like Powers-Johnson, but I really don’t understand why the Raiders would go center here. Andre James was re-signed, Cody Whitehair was brought in and Dylan Parham is still on the roster. You’ve now created a logjam on the interior when the Raiders still need defensive help and a real QB. No idea, man.

45. Green Bay Packers – Edgerrin Cooper, LB, Texas A&M

Grade: B

Cooper is a fine linebacker who plays at his best in run and chase situations. I would’ve gone with Michigan LB Junior Colson here instead, but with holes on the spine of that defense, it makes sense for the Packers to take a linebacker. Cooper has potential to become a three-down impact player.

46. Carolina Panthers (via Indianapolis Colts) – Jonathon Brooks, RB, Texas

Grade: C+

While I question trading up for Brooks, who’s coming off an ACL injury, I get why Brooks is the pick here. The Panthers are committed to running the ball under Dave Canales, and Brooks is one of the best backs of the class when he’s healthy. He’s got NFL size and great vision with agility, with enough breakaway speed. If he can get healthy, he’s got potential to be a lead back.

47. New York Giants – Tyler Nubin, S, Minnesota

Grade: B+

While he wasn’t my top safety in the class, Nubin is a really good fit for the Giants’ defense and coordinator Shane Bowen. Nubin is instinctive and smart on the back end of the defense, and while he tends to go a little wild as a tackler, he fits right into where Xavier McKinney left.

48. Jacksonville Jaguars – Maason Smith, DT, LSU

Grade: C-

This is the most obvious Trent Baalke pick ever. Smith is a great athlete who has NFL size as a defensive tackle, but he’s still recovering from a lower body injury. I get why you take the swing with the athletic upside, but not at 48.

49. Cincinnati Bengals – Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan

Grade: B+

This is a good value pick for the Bengals, going for athletic upside and NFL size on the interior. Jenkins is smart on the inside and knows how to deconstruct blocks. He’s a powerful player and will win on the interior for the Bengals. Pass rush production is really limited.

50. Washington Commanders – Mike Sainristil, CB, Michigan

Grade: A

Newton and Sainristil on the same day, the Commanders must’ve read the all-JP team. Despite his size, Sainristil has high level instincts and was always around the ball. Think Mike Hilton on the inside with Sainristil. Dan Quinn is going to unleash him.

51. Pittsburgh Steelers – Zach Frazier, C, West Virginia

Grade: A+

The Steelers are completely revamping their offensive line, first taking Troy Fautanu and now Frazier. A four time wrestling champion, Frazier’s grip strength and power immediately jump off the tape, and will fit in Pittsburgh like a glove. Love this pick.

52. Indianapolis Colts (via Carolina Panthers) – AD Mitchell, WR, Texas

Grade: A

The biggest questions on Mitchell are the character concerns and consistency of play. If he goes and plays to his potential in Indianapolis, this has the potential to be a major steal. Mitchell is big, fast and shows the ability to create separation downfield. If he’s locked in, the Colts receiver room is so much fun.

53. Washington Commanders – Ben Sinnott, TE, Kansas State

Grade: B-

Sinnott is such a fun player. Works his butt off as a blocker both off the ball and in-line (although his arm length kind of works against him). He’s also versatile enough to win after the catch and downfield. Interesting fit in Washington, however. Commanders head coach Kliff Kingsbury drafted Trey McBride, now he gets one in Washington with Sinnott.

54. Cleveland Browns – Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State

Grade: A-

Arguably the best defensive tackle left on the board, Hall is undersized but brings legit quickness and explosion on the interior. While the run defense is more gap penetration that gap control, he fits right in with what Jim Schwartz wants to be defensively.

55. Miami Dolphins – Patrick Paul, OT, Houston

Grade: B-

I understand the player and pick here. Terron Armstead might not have much left in the tank, and the depth of the Dolphins’ offensive line is poor. Paul is still an unfinished product, but has NFL length and power. He can grow into a fine tackle down the line.

56. Dallas Cowboys – Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE, Western Michigan

Grade: B+

I really did think they would draft a RB, namely Trey Benson, but Kneeland is a really good value pick. His pass rush production was limited, but he was playing out of position on the inside at Western Michigan. Now fully on the edge, Kneeland can showcase his power and motor. The Cowboys depth at EDGE is now depleted with Dorance Armstrong and Dante Fowler gone, and Kneeland can sit behind Demarcus Lawrence and Micah Parsons.

57. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Chris Braswell, EDGE, Alabama

Grade: A

I thought Braswell would go higher, but what a spot for him to fall. Braswell is really powerful player who is rugged on the edge, something the Bucs really covet in their pass rushers. His pass rush plan can be wonky on occasions, but this pick is really fun.

58. Green Bay Packers – Javon Bullard, S, Georgia

Grade: A-

The Packers were going to address safety at some point in this draft, and I love the value they got with Bullard. He’s a versatile, instinctive safety who can also play nickel if need be. With the safety room looking really thin, Bullard comes in and has the versatility to start right away.

59. Houston Texans – Blake Fisher, OT, Notre Dame

Grade: B-

I’m surprised BYU OT Kingsley Suamataia or Washington OT Roger Rosengarten isn’t the pick here, but I understand why Fisher is the pick. Tytus Howard is moving to guard full time, and Fisher has the athletic tools to be effective in Bobby Slowik’s offense. I get the reason, just think more NFL-ready tackles were available.

60. Buffalo Bills – Cole Bishop, S, Utah

Grade: A-

This is a great value pick for the Bills, who needed to get younger on the back end. Bishop is a good athlete who can trigger downhill. He’s a good fit for the Bills defense, and while he might not become a superstar, but he’ll be solid for the Bills.

61. Detroit Lions – Ennis Rakestraw Jr, Missouri

Grade: A

You can never have too many defensive backs, and the Lions have created a DB room full of tough, aggressive corners. Rakestraw plays a lot bigger than his size, and thrives in man coverage. This is a terrific pick by the Lions, who have completely revamped the corner room in one year.

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