NFL News & Analysis

Most improved secondaries after the 2024 NFL Draft: Eagles, Ravens lead the way

2X4J7Y7 Philadelphia Eagles' Quinyon Mitchell participates in a drill during NFL rookie minicamp at the football team's training facility, Friday, May 3, 2024, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

• The Eagles secured two potential starters in the top 40: Mitchell will likely start on the outside right away, while DeJean is one of the more versatile secondary players from the 2024 class and could get looks in the slot or at safety.

• The Giants had a sneakily impactful draft for their secondary: Andru Phillips' press-man coverage style fits perfectly with New York’s 2023 first-round pick, Deonte Banks.

• Check out PFF's fantasy football rankings: PFF’s fantasy football rankings include ranks from our experts, projections and our strength of schedule metric.

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

With the 2024 NFL Draft all wrapped up, we now start to look back at which teams improved most in certain areas. The secondary is our focus here.



Round 1, Pick 22: CB Quinyon Mitchell
Round 2, Pick 40: CB Cooper DeJean

James Bradberry and Darius Slay fell off a bit last year. They earned 77.1 and 77.3 coverage grades, respectively, in 2022 before posting 52.0 and 65.4 marks in 2023. The Eagles subsequently went out and hit not one, but two home runs in that area in drafting Mitchell and DeJean.

Mitchell will likely start right away, while DeJean could be eased into things as he recovers from a foot injury suffered in 2023 that hampered his draft process. That doesn’t mean we won’t see DeJean at all in 2024, though. He should be good to go by training camp and is one of the more versatile secondary players from the 2024 class. He could get looks in the slot or at safety.

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Round 1, Pick 24: CB Terrion Arnold
Round 2, Pick 61: CB Ennis Rakestraw Jr.
Round 4, Pick 132: S Sione Vaki

The Lions' defense ranked in the top 10 in run-defense grade and the top 20 in pass-rush grade but placed third worst in coverage grade in 2023. They devoted a lot of resources — salary cap, trade assets and draft picks — to improving their secondary for a Super Bowl run in 2024, and did about as good of a job as possible.

Detroit traded up for cornerback Terrion Arnold once he made it past the Jacksonville Jaguars in the first round, and he should start right away. They then double-dipped with Rakestraw, who may not be an immediate starter but is poised to be a long-term impact player. Finally, the Lions grabbed Vaki, a hard-hitting strong safety and an enforcer over the middle.



Round 1, Pick 30: CB Nate Wiggins
Round 4, Pick 130: CB T.J. Tampa
Round 7, Pick 270: S Sanoussi Kane

The Ravens’ coverage unit looked great last season based on grades (93.0), ranking second in the NFL. But when narrowing that focus to just cornerbacks, they fell to 13th (71.4). Their only consistent cornerback starter who graded above 70.0 in coverage was Ronald Darby, who is now on the Jaguars.

Safe to say, the team needed to upgrade in that area. Baltimore acquired one of the most talented coverage players in the class in Wiggins and then got a steal (relative to the PFF big board) in Tampa in Round 4. Wiggins could start right away for the team, while Tampa could be an ideal reserve in his rookie season and a potential long-term starter.



Round 2, Pick 47: S Tyler Nubin
Round 3, Pick 70: CB Andru Phillips

Though the Giants made only two secondary selections, they targeted players who fit their scheme for a potential year-one impact. Nubin is a solid safety, one the Giants needed after losing Xavier McKinney in free agency. Nubin can play both free and strong safety, though he is best as a strong safety in robber coverage roles over the middle.

Phillips to the Giants was one of my favorite prospect-team fits of any selection in the draft. His press-man coverage style fits perfectly with New York’s 2023 first-round pick, Deonte Banks. Now they can get even more aggressive to play Cover 1, Cover 0 or 2-Man.

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Round 2, Pick 43: CB Max Melton
Round 3, Pick 90: CB Elijah Jones
Round 4, Pick 104: S Dadrion Taylor-Demerson

Melton will look to claim one of the starting spots on the outside in Arizona, with Sean Murphy-Bunting also in the mix after signing in free agency. While the Cardinals drafted cornerbacks Kei’Trel Clark and Garrett Williams last year, drafting Elijah Jones this year gives them much-needed flexibility and a good depth investment in case they want to play more press coverage.

As for their safeties, they still have Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson, but Baker requested a trade last offseason in a contract leverage move and is still playing on the last year of his deal entering 2024, so he might not be there for the long haul. Taylor-Demerson will likely be a rotational player in 2024 but could see a starting spot open up for 2025.


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