NFL Rumors: Scouts Rave About Steelers’ Draft, Brandon Aiyuk’s 49ers Future, and More

From the Steelers' impressive haul to Brandon Aiyuk's cloudy future in San Francisco, Adam Caplan shares the latest intel from the 2024 NFL Draft.

Here’s an inside look at how teams picked in the bottom half of the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft, their roles at the NFL level, and how our sources see their skill sets translating to the next stage.

NFL Rumors: Insider Notes on the 2024 NFL Draft

Cincinnati Bengals 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 18
    Amarius Mims, OT | Georgia
  • Round 2, Pick 49
    Kris Jenkins, DT | Michigan
  • Round 3, Pick 80
    Jermaine Burton, WR | Alabama
  • Round 3, Pick 97 (Compensatory)
    McKinnley Jackson, DT | Texas A&M
  • Round 4, Pick 115
    Erick All, TE | Iowa
  • Round 5, Pick 149
    Josh Newton, CB | TCU
  • Round 6, Pick 194
    Tanner McLachlan, TE | Arizona
  • Round 6, Pick 214 (Compensatory)
    Cedric Johnson, EDGE | Ole Miss
  • Round 7, Pick 224 (from HOU through ARI)
    Daijahn Anthony, S | Ole Miss
  • Round 7, Pick 237
    Matt Lee, C | Miami

While Mims is seen as a project due to his lack of starts at Georgia, he is seen in the scouting community as having the most upside of any offensive lineman in this draft. And he’s capable of playing LT and RT but figures to eventually start at RT since veteran Trent Brown is on a one-year contract.

Jenkins is seen around the NFL as a good fit for the Bengals’ 4-3 defensive front due to his size, and he could start in 2025 and beyond due to veteran DT B.J. Hill’s contract expiring after this season concludes.

The Bengals have a depth issue at the wide receiver position and Burton could wind up starting in 2025 and beyond if the team doesn’t extend the contract of starter Tee Higgins.

MORE: Bengals’ 53-Man Roster Projection: Tough Decision on Offense

While he didn’t have a lot of production in college mainly due to the offenses he played in at Michigan and Iowa, scouts say All’s athleticism stands out on tape, and the Bengals badly needed a movement player at the position.

Newton is seen around the NFL as a nice value where they selected him and he figures to have a good shot to be one of their top backup outside CBs down the road.

Los Angeles Rams 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 19
    Jared Verse, EDGE | Florida State
  • Round 2, Pick 39 (from CAR through NYG)
    Braden Fiske, DT | Florida State
  • Round 3, Pick 83
    Blake Corum, RB | Michigan
  • Round 3, Pick 99 (Resolution JC-2A Selection)
    Kamren Kinchens, S | Miami
  • Round 5, Pick 154
    Brennan Jackson, EDGE | Washington State
  • Round 6, Pick 196
    Tyler Davis, DT | Clemson
  • Round 6, Pick 209 (Compensatory)
    Joshua Karty, K | Stanford
  • Round 6, Pick 213 (Compensatory)
    Jordan Whittington, WR | Texas
  • Round 6, Pick 217 (Compensatory)
    Beaux Limmer, OC | Arkansas
  • Round 7, Pick 254 (Compensatory)
    KT Leveston, G | Kansas State

For the first time since the 2016 draft, the Rams actually made a selection in the first round and selected a position of need with Verse.

The only question on him is if he can perform at a high enough level as a stand-up pass rusher as his success came with his hand in the dirt.

What the scouting community really likes about Fiske is the energy he plays with and how he finishes.

Kinchens, who has a knack for making plays (11 INTs over his final two seasons at Miami), figures to wind up starting next to veteran S Kamren Curl.

If you’re looking for a late-round pick to make their roster, look no further than Davis, who will have a legit shot due to the team being light on the interior of their defensive line, and he offers the ability to be moved around their defensive front.

Pittsburgh Steelers 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 20
    Troy Fautanu, OT | Washington
  • Round 2, Pick 51
    Zach Frazier, C | West Virginia
  • Round 3, Pick 84
    Roman Wilson, WR | Michigan
  • Round 3, Pick 98 (from PHI)
    Payton Wilson, LB | NC State
  • Round 4, Pick 119
    Mason McCormick, G | South Dakota State
  • Round 6, Pick 178 (from CAR through ARI)
    Logan Lee, DT | Iowa
  • Round 6, Pick 195
    Ryan Watts, CB | Texas

For the second year in a row, the Steelers have received rave reviews for their draft.

The team, as we wrote recently, was looking to draft a right tackle so they could move second-year OT Broderick Jones from RT to LT this season, so Fautanu, who was one of their top-rated RTs, is expected to line up there going forward.

The final piece of their offensive line rebuild is the selection of Frazier, who should wind up being their starting center for years to come.

While his injury history has been well documented, the team feels they got a steal with NC State’s Wilson in the third round, and he should challenge for playing time right away next to ILB Patrick Queen.

Miami Dolphins 2024 NFL Draft Picks

There was a feeling around the NFL that the Dolphins would target an edge rusher in the first round due to both of their starters (Jaelan Phillips and Bradley Chubb) coming off major injuries.

However, while Robinson is seen in the scouting community as possessing a high upside, he still needs a lot of development with his pass-rush moves and technique and may not have a big role initially.

Paul figures to be the long-term starter at left tackle as veteran Terron Armstead turns 33 in July and has missed a lot of time due to injury.

While Wright’s selection might have surprised some people due to the team already having five other RBs on its roster, Jeff Wilson Jr. and Salvon Ahmed are playing on one-year deals.

MORE: How Will the Dolphins Use the NFL’s Most Dynamic RB Group?

This team lacks depth at the wide receiver position, so both draftees should be able to push for a roster spot if they have a productive training camp and preseason.

Philadelphia Eagles 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 22
    Quinyon Mitchell, CB | Toledo
  • Round 2, Pick 40 (from WAS through CHI)
    Cooper DeJean, CB | Iowa
  • Round 3, Pick 94 (from SF)
    Jalyx Hunt, EDGE | Houston Christian
  • Round 4, Pick 127 (from HOU)
    Will Shipley, RB | Clemson
  • Round 5, Pick 152 (from WAS through SEA)
    Ainias Smith, WR | Texas A&M
  • Round 5, Pick 155 (from IBD through CAR, LAR, PIT)
    Jeremiah Trotter Jr., LB | Clemson
  • Round 5, Pick 172 (Compensatory)
    Trevor Keegan, G | Michigan
  • Round 6, Pick 185 (from NYJ)
    Johnny Wilson, WR | Florida State
  • Round 6, Pick 190 (from NYJ through GB, NO)
    Dylan McMahon, C | NC State

The feeling around the NFL is that no team did better with its first two selections than the Eagles.

The only question about DeJean is where he’ll line up long-term (S or CB).

Hunt is seen as a major project in the scouting community, but the word we’ve gotten is he’ll be brought along slowly.

With fourth-year RB Kenneth Gainwell entering this season on the final year of his rookie deal, Shipley could wind up taking over the No. 2 role at the position in 2025 and beyond.

Smith, who was a favorite of some WR coaches we spoke to before the draft, fits in well for new OC Kellen Moore’s spread scheme.

Jacksonville Jaguars 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 23 (from MIN through HOU through CLE)
    Brian Thomas Jr., WR | LSU
  • Round 2, Pick 48
    Maason Smith, DT | LSU
  • Round 3, Pick 96 (Compensatory)
    Jarrian Jones, CB | Florida State
  • Round 4, Pick 114
    Javon Foster, OT | Missouri
  • Round 4, Pick 116 (from NO)
    Jordan Jefferson, DT | LSU
  • Round 5, Pick 153
    Deantre Prince, CB | Ole Miss
  • Round 5, Pick 167 (from MIN through KC)
    Keilan Robinson, RB | Texas
  • Round 6, Pick 212 (Compensatory)
    Cam Little, K | Arkansas
  • Round 7, Pick 236
    Myles Cole, DE | Texas Tech

There was a feeling that Toledo’s Mitchell might not be a good fit for new DC Ryan Nielsen’s defensive scheme, which might help to explain why they passed on selecting him and chose Jones in the third round instead.

The only question about Jones is whether he projects to play inside or outside at the next level.

Thomas should start right away opposite fifth-year WR Gabe Davis, and this will allow the coaches to keep veteran WR Christian Kirk inside.

The team wanted to get younger on the interior of their defensive line and develop a deeper rotation, and they’ll be able to do that with the additions of Smith and Jefferson.

Detroit Lions 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 24 (from DAL)
    Terrion Arnold, CB | Alabama
  • Round 2, Pick 61
    Ennis Rakestraw Jr., CB | Missouri
  • Round 4, Pick 126 (from NYJ through GB)
    Giovanni Manu, OT | British Columbia
  • Round 4, Pick 132 (from PHI through SF)
    Sione Vaki, RB | Utah
  • Round 6, Pick 189 (from DEN through LAR, BUF, HOU, DET)
    Mekhi Wingo, DT | LSU
  • Round 6, Pick 210 (from PHI)
    Christian Mahogany, G | Boston College

The prevailing belief around the NFL was that Mitchell was the top cornerback for this draft and Arnold was next, and that’s how it played out in the first round.

Arnold and veteran CB Carlton Davis III will be the starters, and Rakestraw could wind up starting in 2025 and beyond if Davis doesn’t re-sign after the season ends. Depth was a real problem at the position last season, but that shouldn’t be the case going forward after the trade to acquire Davis and with the additions of the two rookies.

Plus, they were able to re-sign two veterans (Kindle Vildor and Emmanuel Moseley) and sign nickel defender Amik Robertson.

Green Bay Packers 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 25
    Jordan Morgan, OL | Arizona
  • Round 2, Pick 45 (from NO through DEN)
    Edgerrin Cooper, EDGE | Texas A&M
  • Round 2, Pick 58
    Javon Bullard, S | Georgia
  • Round 3, Pick 88
    MarShawn Lloyd, RB | USC
  • Round 3, Pick 91 (from BUF)
    Ty’Ron Hopper, LB | Missouri
  • Round 4, Pick 111 (from NYJ)
    Evan Williams, S | Oregon
  • Round 5, Pick 163 (from BUF)
    Jacob Monk, OL | Duke
  • Round 5, Pick 169 (Compensatory)
    Kitan Oladapo, S | Oregon State
  • Round 6, Pick 202
    Travis Glover, OT | Georgia State
  • Round 7, Pick 245
    Michael Pratt, QB | Tulane
  • Round 7, Pick 255 (compensatory pick)
    Kalen King, CB | Penn State

While Morgan is capable of playing inside or outside on the offensive line, he should wind up being their long-term LT due to his athleticism.

Not only did the Packers select at least three starters in this draft (Morgan, Bullard, Cooper), but third-rounder Lloyd could be a big factor in 2025 and beyond should the team not bring back veteran Josh Jacobs. Jacobs signed a four-year contract, but the structure is such that they can get out of it after just one season if needed without issue, and veteran RB AJ Dillon is re-signed for just one season.

A source said the team believes it might have gotten a “steal” with Glover’s selection in the sixth round due to his versatility, and he stood out during Senior Bowl week practices earlier this year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 26
    Graham Barton, OL | Duke
  • Round 2, Pick 57
    Chris Braswell, EDGE | Alabama
  • Round 3, Pick 89
    Tykee Smith, S | Georgia
  • Round 3, Pick 92 (from DET)
    Jalen McMillan, WR | Washington
  • Round 4, Pick 125
    Bucky Irving, RB | Oregon
  • Round 6, Pick 220 (Compensatory)
    Elijah Klein, G | Texas-El Paso
  • Round 7, Pick 246
    Devin Culp, TE | Washington

Barton has multi-positional versatility, but the plan is for him to play inside at center.

Braswell will fit in nicely within the Buccaneers’ 3-4 defensive scheme as a rotational pass rusher.

Depth has been a challenge at wide receiver, so McMillan figures to have a good chance to get into the rotation as a rookie.

And running back depth also was an issue last season behind starter Rachaad White, and Irving should be able to challenge for the No. 2 spot on the depth chart going forward.

Kansas City Chiefs 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 28 (from BUF) 
    Xavier Worthy, WR | Texas
  • Round 2, Pick 63 (from SF)
    Kingsley Suamataia, OT | BYU
  • Round 4, Pick 131
    Jared Wiley, TE | TCU
  • Round 4, Pick 133 (from BUF)
    Jaden Hicks, S | Washington State
  • Round 5, Pick 159 (from DAL)
    Hunter Nourzad, C | Penn State
  • Round 6, Pick 211 (from SF)
    Kamal Hadden, CB | Tennessee
  • Round 7, Pick 248 (from BUF)
    C.J. Hanson, G | Holy Cross

Worthy was on the Chiefs’ radar for months, we’re told, and they found a way to get him in the fold from their trade with the Buffalo Bills.

Suamataia, a favorite in the scouting community, should be the long-term solution at LT, and Wiley, who is seen as the top “Y” TE for this draft, is more athletic than most think. He moved really well during Senior Bowl week practices and should be a really good fit for the Chiefs’ offense.

One of the biggest surprises of the draft was Hicks dropping to the fourth round. While safety wasn’t a need, the value of Hicks on the third day was too great to pass up.

Dallas Cowboys 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 29 (from DET)
    Tyler Guyton, OT | Oklahoma
  • Round 2, Pick 56
    Marshawn Kneeland, EDGE | Western Michigan
  • Round 3, Pick 73 (from DET through MIN)
    Cooper Beebe, G | Kansas State
  • Round 3, Pick 87
    Marist Liufau, LB | Notre Dame
  • Round 5, Pick 174 (Compensatory)
    Caelen Carson, CB | Wake Forest
  • Round 6, Pick 216 (Compensatory)
    Ryan Flournoy, WR | Southeast Missouri State
  • Round 7, Pick 233 (from LV)
    Nathan Thomas, OT | Louisiana-Lafayette
  • Round 7, Pick 244
    Justin Rogers, DT | Auburn

Word in scouting circles before the draft was that they were going to target Guyton to be their LT (which is why we put him in our final mock draft for them) so they could keep Tyler Smith inside at LG.

Smith, who was drafted to be LT Tyron Smith’s replacement, stunned the scouting world with his ability to play at such a high level inside, and guard was not a position at which he was expected to play at the NFL level.

KEEP READING: Best Fits for Remaining Free Agents After NFL Draft

The Cowboys, who typically draft well, got two potential starters with their next two picks between Kneeland and Beebe.

And Kneeland’s level of competition in college shouldn’t be a factor, we’re told, as his tape is very strong.

Baltimore Ravens 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 30
    Nate Wiggins, CB | Clemson
  • Round 2, Pick 62
    Roger Rosengarten, OT | Washington
  • Round 3, Pick 93
    Adisa Isaac, EDGE | Penn State
  • Round 4, Pick 113 (from NYJ through DEN)
    Devontez Walker, WR | UNC
  • Round 4, Pick 130
    T.J. Tampa, CB | Iowa State
  • Round 5, Pick 165
    Rasheen Ali, RB | Marshall
  • Round 6, Pick 218 (from NYJ)
    Devin Leary, QB | Kentucky
  • Round 7, Pick 228 (from NYJ)
    Nick Samac, C | Michigan State
  • Round 7, Pick 250
    Sanoussi Kane, S | Purdue

One of the Ravens’ top needs coming into the draft was cornerback, which helps to explain the selections of Wiggins and Tampa.

The talented Tampa surprisingly dropped a few rounds to the fourth, but a scouting source said there was a concern about his speed.

Walker can be brought along slowly as their fourth WR but could move up over time especially with veteran Nelson Agholor’s contract expiring after this season.

San Francisco 49ers 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 31
    Ricky Pearsall, WR | Florida
  • Round 2, Pick 64 (from KC)
    Renardo Green, CB | Florida State
  • Round 3, Pick 86 (from PHI through IND through HOU through PHI)
    Dominick Puni, G | Kansas
  • Round 4, Pick 124 (from DAL)
    Malik Mustapha, S | Wake Forest
  • Round 4, Pick 129 (from NYJ through MIN through DET)
    Isaac Guerendo, RB | Louisville
  • Round 4, Pick 135
    Jacob Cowing, WR | Arizona
  • Round 6, Pick 215 (Compensatory pick)
    Jarrett Kingston, G | USC
  • Round 7, Pick 251
    Tatum Bethune, LB | Florida State

Pearsall was seen as a surprise pick to many personnel executives around the NFL, leaving many to wonder about the future of WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk.

Samuel is signed through the 2025 season and Aiyuk is on his fifth-year option, but the team has been trying to sign him on an extension.

The 49ers don’t play a high percentage of 11 personnel, so it’s hard to see Pearsall playing a lot of snaps with Samuel and Aiyuk on the roster.

Green, who projects to wind up starting opposite veteran CB Charvarius Ward, plays with a physical nature, and scouts like his “playing personality.”

Guerendo, who turns 24 later this month, offers really good size and speed for the running back position and figures to eventually challenge for the No. 2 job.

Puni played some left tackle at Kansas, but the team is going to move him inside at guard, and he could have a legit shot to start long-term at RG.

Carolina Panthers 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 32 (from BUF)
    Xavier Legette, WR | South Carolina
  • Round 2, Pick 46 (from IND)
    Jonathon Brooks, RB | Texas
  • Round 3, Pick 72 (from NYJ)
    Trevin Wallace, LB | Kentucky
  • Round 4, Pick 101
    Ja’Tavion Sanders, TE | Texas
  • Round 5, Pick 157 (from NYJ through CLE, MIN)
    Chau Smith-Wade, CB | Washington State
  • Round 6, Pick 200 (from BUF)
    Jaden Crumedy, DT | Mississippi State
  • Round 7, Pick 240 (from PIT)
    Michael Barrett, LB | Michigan

Legette is seen as a “late bloomer” in the scouting community because he only posted one season with high production, but he’s also an immense talent.

With Legette, Texas’ Sanders, and veteran WR Diontae Johnson, GM Dan Morgan has done a nice job of adding pass targets for second-year QB Bryce Young to work with. And the hope is that fourth-year WR Terrace Marshall Jr., a 2021 second-round pick, will get another chance to prove himself in head coach Dave Canales’ West Coast scheme. He did not fit in with former head coach Frank Reich’s offensive scheme, a source said.

Sanders gives the Panthers some badly needed athleticism at the tight end position.

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