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Ranking the top 10 NFL rookie-team fits for 2024: 3 Round 1 QBs make the list, but a LB takes the No. 1 spot

Written by on May 14, 2024

We all know fit is vital for players once they enter the NFL. Not just quarterbacks. From scheme to type of teammates, environment is often the imperceptible element that makes or breaks a young player as he’s acclimating to the league. 

Let’s pinpoint the absolute best fits from the 2024 NFL Draft

10. Marshawn Lloyd, RB, Packers

  • Round: 3, pick 88

The Packers have a new Quadzilla in the backfield in Lloyd. OK, so he might not have quads as girthy as A.J. Dillon’s, but the former USC runner was a ridiculous 5-foot-8 3/4 and 220 pounds at the combine. Thick City. 

Remarkably, Lloyd ran 4.46 seconds in the 40-yard dash at that ultra-compact size. And with the Trojans, he was a one-cut stud with the subtle lateral juice needed to elude defenders in space on a regular basis once he exploded into the second level. In 2023, Lloyd forced a missed tackle on a seismic 40.3% of his 115 rushes. Astronomical figure. 

And in Matt LaFleur’s free-flowing zone-based blocking system, the prototypical runner is a big back with one-cut capabilities and some wiggle. He’s a tremendous fit with Green Bay. He just has Josh Jacobs and Dillon in front of him on the depth chart to begin his NFL career. 

9. Cole Bishop, S, Bills

  • Round: 2, pick 60

This offseason, the Bills moved on from their longtime Swiss Army knife on defense, Jordan Poyer. The veteran safety blossomed in Buffalo as a do-everything type who averaged nearly four interceptions per season in his six years in Buffalo and also recorded more than 90 tackles in five seasons. 

As he aged, the Bills moved him closer to the line of scrimmage, and he thrived as the en vogue linebacker hybrid who played with reckless abandon and still possessed just enough coverage skill to stay on the field for close to 100% of the snaps. 

In Bishop, Buffalo got a Poyer comparable at the safety position. At Utah, Bishop was the quarterback of the defense, routinely directing teammates to the proper position and playing a variety of positions himself. And at 6-foot-2 and 206 pounds with 4.45 speed and 39-inch vertical explosiveness, he’s a rocket to the football, regardless of where it is. 

While he’s young — he won’t be 22 years old until October — he played over 1,700 snaps in his collegiate career, so the Bills are likely to put him on the field early and ask more of him than most rookies because of how schematically attuned he was on film at Utah. Based on what Sean McDermott got out of Kurt Coleman in Carolina and Poyer in Buffalo, Bishop should be a star in Western New York sooner than later. 

8. Xavier Worthy, WR, Chiefs

  • Round: 1, pick 28

The Chiefs, now rather famously, went small-ball in the post-Tyreek Hill era in Kansas City and won back-to-back Super Bowls. Andy Reid pivoted his offense more gracefully than Hakeem Olajuwon in the paint. (Mostly) gone were the persistent long-ball launches from Mahomes. Instead, Mahomes got it out quickly and accurately to the correct receiver, and yards after the catch were accentuated to the nth degree. 

Now, with Worthy in the mix, we all have to believe Reid will pivot back, true to Olajuwon form, to more of a vertical-based attack in 2024, which is, very naturally, where Worthy’s 4.21 speed factors in. 

Mahomes 6.9-yard average depth of target in 2023 was easily the lowest of his career. In 2019, when he exploded onto the scene, throwing 50 touchdowns en route to winning MVP, his aDOT was 9.7 yards. For context, that’s a bit more than the difference in aDOT last season between No. 2 C.J. Stroud (9.3) and Daniel Jones (6.9). 

Worthy wasn’t incredibly efficient as a go-ball type at Texas, and his quarterback play had much to do with that. His scintillating speed, combined with Mahomes’ bazooka arm and Reid’s schematic brilliance, make this a glorious pairing.

7. Bo Nix, QB, Broncos

  • Round: 1, pick 12

As someone who was reasonably low on Nix — I had a very early Round 2 grade on him, even considering positional value — I can’t have him incredibly high on this list. Yes, the intention of this article is to pinpoint best prospect-team fits, but how I expect said players to perform is considered here, too. 

And while the completion percentage — and even adjusted completion percentage — would indicate Nix has Drew Brees-like accuracy, I simply didn’t see that on film when he was asked to make throws to the intermediate level, deep, or when one of his Oregon skill-position players wasn’t completely wide open. 

However, Nix does make this list because he appears to be very smart with the football, understanding where defenses dictate he should throw the ball, and rarely gets sacked. In fact, Nix had a minuscule pressure-to-sack rate of 7.6% in 2023, and Brees was always one of the least-sacked quarterbacks during his future first-ballot Hall of Fame career under Sean Payton’s watchful eye. 

Although I don’t have considerable confidence in his upside, Nix can operate, even as a rookie, as an extension of his offensive-minded head coach. 

6. Braden Fiske, DT, Rams

  • Round: 2, pick 39

You think the Rams know how to deploy an explosive upfield interior pass rusher? Yeah, I’d say so. But I’m not going to give the scheme too much credit. Aaron Donald is arguably the best defensive player in NFL history with an unprecedented combination of dynamic athleticism, low-center-of-gravity power and a vast collection of pass-rush moves. 

Fiske isn’t Donald 2.0 but has Donaldian juice off the snap and plays with a similar overt tenacity from the jump. Uniquely sized, Fiske is considerably taller than Donald at 6-foot-5 but has super-short arms. And it all worked at Florida State in 2023 after an illustrious career at Western Michigan. Fiske pressured the passer on 10.6% of his opportunities last season and finished with 12 sacks and 21 tackles for loss in his final two collegiate seasons in the MAC and ACC, respectively. Yes, 12 sacks and 21 tackles for loss sounds more like an Aaron Donald at Pittsburgh single-season stat line, but for even highly achieving humans, those numbers are awesome across two years at defensive tackle. 

And let’s not forget about NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year Kobie Turner, another “undersized” penetrating interior rusher who was unblockable down the stretch in 2023. Fiske is going to rock in Los Angeles along the Rams defensive line. 

5. Khyree Jackson, CB, Vikings

  • Round: 4, pick 108

Jackson gave me Xavien Howard vibes on film. Long, athletic, ultra-physical, at times tremendously suffocating at the line and at the catch point, and other times lost in coverage. 

But you know who got the most out of Howard in the NFL? Vikings current defensive coordinator Brian Flores. In 2020, under Flores’ tutelage, Howard led the NFL with 10 interceptions. Now, Flores wasn’t necessarily integral in the development of Howard, who was a 2016 draft pick. But he certainly understood how to maximize his special yet imperfect skill set. 

And now Flores gets another intimidating boundary cornerback with otherworldly length and an up-and-down style the Vikings are likely hoping can be smoothed out to more consistent play. The former Alabama defender had three picks and seven pass breakups at Oregon in 2023. It’ll be fascinating to monitor how Flores works with another Howard-like specimen in the his secondary. 

4. JC Latham, LT, Titans

  • Round: 1, pick 7

Ok, so Latham is switching positions, from right tackle to left tackle. And Derrick Henry is gone. Latham still makes this list at reasonably high billing because of how I believe GM Ran Carthon envisions his team. Remember, Carthon was in Atlanta for the start of Jake Matthews‘ career and had a front-row seat to the Trent Williams show in San Francisco before becoming Tennessee’s head shot-caller. 

But learning from legendary offensive line coach Bill Callahan alongside 2023 first-round pick Peter Skoronski and big-ticket free-agent signing Lloyd Cushenberry indicates this will be a darn-good fit for a Titans team that went aggressive all offseason to improve the roster. 

3. Jayden Daniels, QB, Commanders

  • Round: 1, pick 2

Daniels’ offensive coordinator, Ryan Gosling lookalike Kliff Kingsbury, has coordinated offenses run by Johnny Manziel, Patrick Mahomes, Kyler Murray and, most recently, Caleb Williams

Sensing a theme there? Athleticism, functional mobility, ad-libbing skills — and those three are all clear strengths of Daniels’ game. Of course, Daniels has the pocket play down, too. And, technically, Kingsbury comes from and operates his own “Air Raid” system, which, by name suggests, plenty of throwing. That offensive philosophy threatens defenses vertically. Often. 

And while the presence of two first-round receivers, Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr., likely helped the cause, Daniels was the finest downfield thrower in the 2024 class of quarterbacks. He had the best adjusted completion rate on downfield throws at 69.1%, — significantly ahead of second-place passer J.J. McCarthy at 58.7%. 

Given Kingsbury’s familiarity with designing an offense around a nimble quarterback with a long-ball speciality, this is, quite easily, one of the finest prospect-team fits in the entire draft. 

2. J.J. McCarthy, QB, Vikings

  • Round: 1, pick 10

McCarthy is a rare cat at the quarterback spot in that he’s young — only 21 years old — with plenty of experience — 38 starts — at Michigan. 

While he won’t be one of the top-5 athletes at his position in the NFL, he proved to be plenty capable of either creating with his legs when the original play is coverage or, simply, throwing with timing, accuracy and velocity while on the run. 

And that functional mobility is key in an offense from the Kyle Shanahan coaching tree. Kevin O’Connell will likely feel far more comfortable with the play-action bootleg at the core of his scheme. McCarthy typically understands where to go with the football and can glide through his reads, two other elements key to most aerial attacks but especially critical in O’Connell’s very meticulously timed offense. 

The setup for McCarthy is magnificent, too. Doesn’t necessarily have to be forced onto the field in Week 1 given the presence of Sam Darnold. But Darnold isn’t so good that he’ll keep McCarthy holding the clipboard for long. And… Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, T.J. Hockenson, a rock-solid offensive line. 

McCarthy landed in the best environment of any first-round quarterback. 

1. Payton Wilson, LB, Steelers

  • Round: 3, pick 98

Instead of the positional value of the quarterback spot as the final component that gives a passer the top spot this year, I’m going with nostalgia as what sets Wilson apart and above the rest. 

The linebacker position for the Steelers is arguably as famous as any position and team pairing in NFL history. But this is not solely based on the litany of star linebackers who’ve come before Wilson in Pittsburgh. He had a first-round caliber career at NC State. Production galore. Then he had a first-round caliber workout at the combine — his 4.43 in the 40-yard dash ranks in the 97th percentile among participating linebackers since 1999. And that came with an 88th percentile 10-yard split of 1.54 seconds. His vertical and broad jump were in the 57th and 63rd percentiles, respectively. 

Range, instincts, reliable tackling and the ever-important ability to calmly either sink in zone or make plays on the football in man coverage make Wilson such a stud prospect. He’s just had a vast injury history and has really short arms relative to his nearly 6-foot-4, 233-pound frame. 

He steps foot into a magnificent situation with the Steelers by way of the defensive-line personnel that’ll help to keep him clean early in his NFL career: T.J. Watt, Cam Heyward, Alex Highsmith and young stud nose tackle Keeanu Benton up front. 

The Steelers desperately needed not just linebacker help. They needed a star. And in the third round they have one with that rare ability in Wilson. Best prospect-team fit from the 2024 class. 

The post Ranking the top 10 NFL rookie-team fits for 2024: 3 Round 1 QBs make the list, but a LB takes the No. 1 spot first appeared on CBS Sports.


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