NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: 3 teams trending up and 3 teams trending down after Rounds 2 and 3

2T9PC07 November 25, 2023: NC State senior Payton Wilson (11) directing traffic. NCAA football game, between University of North Carolina and NC State University, at Carter Finley Stadium, Raleigh, North Carolina. David Beach/CSM (Credit Image: © David Beach/Cal Sport Media)

Pittsburgh Steelers trending up: Adding Zach Frazier, Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson headlined a fantastic haul for Pittsburgh on Day.

Jacksonville Jaguars trending down: Jacksonville had one of the biggest reaches on day two of the draft, selecting LSU interior defender Maason Smith 48th overall. Smith, who is PFF’s 140th-ranked player, helps shore up a position of need but went a lot earlier than anticipated.

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The quarterbacks headlined round 1 of the NFL draft, as a record six went in the first 12 selections. Rounds 2 and 3 went a different direction, as none heard their name called on Friday night.

Quarterbacks aside, there was plenty of action on day two of the draft. Here’s who stood out: 

Trending up

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Steelers continued to bolster their offensive line in Round 2 by selecting West Virginia center Zach Frazier, who was a four-time state wrestling champion in high school, the kind of stuff you love to hear about an offensive line prospect. His 84.6 PFF grade since 2021 ranks third among FBS centers, and he’s allowed just a 2.27% pressure percentage over that time. 

Michigan wide receiver Roman Wilson was projected to be an early second-rounder by the PFF big board but fell right into the Pittsburgh Steelers lap at Pick 84. He is an extremely reliable pass-catcher (just one drop on 67 targets) and is a perfect fit in this offense replacing Diontae Johnson.

Pittsburgh finished off its night with yet another noteworthy pick in North Carolina State linebacker Payton Wilson. There are some clear health concerns regarding his knee, but his production on the field cannot go unnoticed. Last season, Wilson earned an 89.9 overall PFF grade. He can be a starting inside linebacker for the Steelers from day one if his health holds up.

Washington Commanders 

The Commanders hit a home run by taking Illinois interior defender Jer’Zhan Newton 38th overall. Newton, the 11th-ranked player on the PFF big board, is one of just three Power Five interior defensive linemen who have recorded 100 or more pressures over a two-year stretch since PFF began grading in 2014. Interior defender wasn’t a position of need (Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne are two of their best players), but Washington took the best player available approach, and it’s hard to argue against it here. 

Washington nailed its next selection just 14 picks later in Michigan cornerback Mike Sainristil, who is a converted wide receiver that moved to defensive back full time in 2022. He is one of the more versatile players in the draft and figures to line up as a slot cornerback most of the time.

The Commanders focused on the offensive side of the ball with their next three picks, taking Kansas State tight end Ben Sinnott 53rd overall, TCU tackle Brandon Coleman 67th overall and Rice wide receiver Luke McCaffrey 100th overall, all of whom can carve out a role in their offense moving forward. 

New York Giants

New York landed PFF’s top-ranked safety prospect at 47th overall in Tyler Nubin out of Minnesota. Nubin’s high-level football intelligence allows him to move all over the secondary and make an impact, whether it’s vs the pass or the run. He allowed a passer rating of 33.0 in coverage when targeted from 2021 to 2023.

In round three, the Giants continued to build up their secondary with Kentucky cornerback Andru Phillips, who brings a level of physicality you love to see out of a defensive back. He is most effective when playing in press coverage, and his 23 defensive stops were a career-best and led all SEC cornerbacks in 2023.

Trending down 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Jacksonville had one of the biggest reaches on Day 2 of the draft, selecting LSU interior defender Maason Smith 48th overall. Smith, who is PFF’s 140th-ranked player, helps shore up a position of need but went a lot earlier than anticipated.

Smith is a physically gifted prospect but missed all but one game of the 2022 season with a torn ACL, which set him back in terms of playing time at the college level. He will likely need time to develop at the NFL level and may not be more than a rotational player early on.

Atlanta Falcons 

The Falcons were the center of attention in Round 1 when they made the most shocking pick of the night in quarterback Michael Penix Jr. Things didn’t start off much better in Round 2, as they gave up their third-round pick to move up eight spots and take the 67th-ranked player on the PFF big board in Clemson interior defender Ruke Orhorhoro. 

Orhorhoro is a powerful and athletic defensive lineman, but it didn’t translate to much production in college, as he posted a sub-50th percentile pass-rush grade on true pass sets over the last two seasons. Considering some of the talent at the position that went after Orhorhoro (most notably Jer’Zhan Newton the very next pick to Washington), this selection does seem rather questionable.

Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals had five picks between Rounds 2 and 3, but it’s fair to question some of their decisions given who was on the board at the time. They were the last leg in a run on cornerbacks from picks 40-43, ultimately selecting Max Melton out of Rutgers. Melton was the 72nd-ranked player on the PFF big board and was a bit of a reach when considering the talent that was there in that draft slot. 

 Illinois tackle Isaiah Adams went 71st overall and was the 137th-ranked prospect on the PFF big board. He will likely play guard in the NFL, but there’s some concern about his tape, most notably that he gave up nine sacks in 2023 alone in 518 pass-blocking snaps. 

Arizona went right back to Illinois just 11 picks later with the selection of tight end Tip Reiman, who can be considered another reach in round three, as he was the 202nd-ranked player on the PFF big board. He has the size and physicality to make a difference as a run blocker but is limited beyond that.

The Cardinals wrapped up round three with another cornerback 90th overall, Boston College‘s Elijah Jones. He was the 225th-ranked player on the PFF big board so yet again, this looks like a reach at this point in the draft. At 6-oot-2, Jones has the length to earn a role at the next level as a boundary corner, but his ceiling may be limited to a backup role.

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