NFL Draft Day 2 Recap: Draft Grades and Fantasy Analysis

NFL Draft Day 2 Recap: Draft Grades and Fantasy Analysis

This article is part of our NFL Draft series.

Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Day 2 Reactions from the NFL Draft

15 different skill-position players went off the board on Day 2. Four different trades took place within the first 10 picks, multiple of which impacted rookie receivers. Notably no quarterbacks were selected Friday, and only one running back ended up going in the first 64 picks. And while the overall number of skill players was down, most of the landing spots ended up being very intriguing. I have you covered on all the action that took place during an electric Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft

Running Back

Jonathon Brooks 46th overall, Carolina Panthers

Brooks was always the odds-on favorite to be the first running back off the board, but Carolina as a destination is somewhat shocking. While Miles Sanders woefully, and perhaps predictably, underperformed after signing a four-year, $25.4 million deal last offseason with the Panthers, it's hard to put the onus squarely on the shoulders of the veteran given the offense's inability to threaten seemingly any part of the field from a passing perspective.

The desperate thirst from zero-RB fantasy pundits have probably inflated the perception of Brooks too much (i.e. comparisons to alumni legend Jamaal Charles), but the soon-to-be 21-year-old was electric in his lone opportunity as a starter last season with Texas, showcasing his fleet feet and nimble athleticism before tearing his ACL in November. That the Panthers backfield already comes well equipped with quality, yet unassuming options in Sanders and Chuba Hubbard should afford Brooks plenty of time to rehab said knee injury and give a perfect runaway for the first, and only, running back selected in the second round of the 2024 NFL Draft to carve out a starting spot in due time.

Trey Benson 66th overall, Arizona Cardinals

The Cardinals may have found their heir apparent at RB. With three-year starter James Conner entering his age-29 season and also the final year of his three-year extension signed back in 2022, Benson arguably couldn't have landed in better fantasy spot. 

At 6-foot, 216 pounds, Benson has the frame to be a three-down ballcarrier, but he was also a clearly explosive back during his time at FSU tallying multiple 80-plus yard touchdowns in his collegiate career. The testing numbers seemed to also confirm Benson's tape-popping athleticism (4.39 40-yard dash) and that he's a capable pass catcher to boot (33-371 across two seasons) just solidifies the soon-to-be 22-year-old as a key offensive piece for an intriguing Arizona offense in the years to come.  

Blake Corum 83rd overall, Los Angeles Rams

After a storied collegiate career, Corum was widely presumed to be the first running back taken in what was projected to be a weak class of backs. A 4.53 40-yard dash at 5-foot-8, 205 pounds completely wiped away those dreams at the Combine, to the point that some believed the Michigan star could fall out of the Day 2 range entirely.

The Rams notably got a lot out of another Combine disappoint in Kyren Williams last season, and Corum does pair well with the former Notre Dame product. Williams' slight frame (5-foot-9, 194 pounds) was always going to limit his upside as a yearly three-down option, and while Corum is of similar height, he's easily a more proven ballcarrier between the tackles. People will point to the draft capital invested in Corum and lack thereof in Williams as if it matters, but I doubt head coach Sean McVay will want to put the proverbial genie back in the bottle after Williams propelled the offense to such a degree last season. While the marriage between the two backs might be annoying from a fantasy perspective, each will have plenty of real-life utility in 2024.

MarShawn Lloyd 88th overall, Green Bay Packers

Everyone's favorite longshot to be the first running back taken off the board, the Packers took Lloyd ahead of some other specialist options like Jaylen Wright and Isaac Guerendo to complement offseason signing Josh Jacobs.

Lloyd's fumbling problems are well documented at this point, but provided that's corrected I could easily see the USC product pushing out AJ Dillon for prominent snaps. The beyond toolsy running back might suffer from a pass protection standpoint, a role that Dillon has improved on over the years and will likely give some comfort to head coach Matt LaFleur, but that's about the only advantage Dillon has over the rookie runner. With Jacobs around and operating as a possible three-down workhorse, Lloyd's fantasy value will be capped regardless of his ability to overtake Dillon on the depth chart.

Wide Receiver

Keon Coleman 33rd overall, Buffalo Bills

The Bills traded back twice in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft and in the process saw three different wide receivers go off the board during that stretch. Given the Panthers traded up with Buffalo one spot to cap off Thursday, thus getting fifth-year eligibility on Xavier Legette, it's clear the team didn't value the late-blooming South Carolina prospect, who would have been a natural replacement for the offseason loss of Gabe Davis.

While there were rumors the Bills also considered moving out of pick 33, it feels like Coleman was always the team's top option and profiles as an easy target hog in replace of Stefon Diggs. Perhaps offensive coordinator Joe Brady will once again try to "Moneyball" the offense with a myriad of James Cook dumpoffs and Curtis Samuel gadget plays like he did during the five-game win streak to end 2023, but I'm skeptical that'll work effectively with more tape out there. Coleman's ability to go up and get a catch will benefit quarterback Josh Allen, and the FSU target was already a quality player after the catch even before the Next Gen stats regarding his top-end "Gauntlet" speed were revealed at the NFL Combine. There's a real possibility Coleman will immediately produce more than most of his late-first colleagues, and he could even rival the some of his much higher-drafted brethren Year 1 given the cushy landing spot.

Ladd McConkey 34th overall, Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers traded up three spots with Patriots to acquire McConkey, who some projected could be a first-round selection. The Jim Harbaugh regime has been almost annoyingly on brand with the likes of Mike Williams, Keenan Allen and Austin Ekeler "replaced" with tone setters like Will Dissly, Gus Edwards and No. 5 overall pick, Notre Dame left tackle Joe Alt

While poor analysis might surmise McConkey is just your prototypical lunch-pail slot receiver and therefore an extension of Harbaugh's grind-and-grit playstyle, the 22-year-old is unquestionably a plus athlete (4.39 40-yard dash) with quick-twitch capabilities on short and intermediate routes. Injuries were an issue in 2023 and those concerns won't just go away with the wideout measuring in at 6-foot, 186 pounds, but provided McConkey stays healthy, he'll easily be a reliable target even with quarterback Justin Herbert presumably dropping back far less than he's done in past years.

Herbert has developed a real chemistry with 2021 third-round pick Joshua Palmer, to the point that I'd be surprised if McConkey out-targets the three-year veteran in the event both stay healthy, but even in offensive coordinator Greg Roman's grossest imagined offensive scheme, it's hard in the year 2024 to not have two fantasy relevant pass catchers when they're partnered with an exceptional quarterback.

Ja'Lynn Polk 37th overall, New England Patriots

There was late buzz Polk could be a first-round wideout which seemed unfounded at the time, but certainly is reinforced now given this selection.

The "other" Washington receiver, Polk broke out in 2023 with a 69-1159-9 line and became one of Michael Penix's favorite deep-ball targets. At 6-foot-1, 203 pounds Polk isn't especially big and he's not especially fast (4.52 40-yard dash), but a few of his other athletic metrics indicate he's at minimum capable of being a superior ball tracker and pass catcher at the point of attack. Those skills aren't immediately clear, however, despite the exceptional year given Washington's offense looked leagues better than the rest of the PAC-12 and that Polk benefitted tremendously as the target opposite of No. 9 overall selection, Rome Odunze.

It's hard to think of more than a handful of teams with a worse receiving corps on paper, so while Polk doesn't really excel at any one thing in particular, he's probably one of the Patriots best pass catchers off the rip and could become a reliable target for rookie quarterback Drake Maye in due time.

Adonai Mitchell 52nd overall, Indianapolis Colts

Much like the vague rumblings about "character" and "off the field" issues that caused George Pickens to tumble to all the way to pick 52 by the Steelers two years ago, Mitchell's precipitous fall from perceived first-round grace was once again laced with unquantifiable issues not pertaining to football.

I'm not a psychologist nor am I a nutritionist, so all I see is a tremendous receiver that seemingly fell into a perfect situation for him to blossom. While 2022 second-round pick Alec Pierce figures to present the biggest hurdle for immediate playing time, Mitchell's outstanding Combine (4.34 40-yard dash, 136-inch broad jump) coupled with a productive collegiate season at Texas highlighted by a Big 12-leading 11 touchdowns make him an immediate candidate to start as a boundary wideout. The 21-year-old isn't a YAC darling and probably won't be the type of wideout that strikes fear in defenses vertically, but head coach Shane Steichen is easily one of the best offensive minds in the NFL and has to be salivating at the potential Mitchell provides within his scheme.

Malachi Corley 65th overall, New York Jets

With Garrett Wilson and Mike Williams both capable of stressing defenses in the deep and intermediate parts of the field, the Jets didn't have a true short-yardage threat within their offense. The 5-foot-10 prospect from Western Kentucky almost immediately changes that equation and will absolutely serve a function within the offense from the get go. While I think player comparisons are often a tired and fruitless exercise, the densely-built target hog was electric with the ball in his hands and eerily exceled in the same way as Deebo Samuel did in college. 

How often that function is utilized is another manner entirely as quarterback Aaron Rodgers doesn't have the greatest of track records when it comes to utilizing new, younger players. If all Corley will be in his rookie season is a screen/bubble specialist and underneath pass catcher, the Jets will surely be in a better position to win football games in 2024. That doesn't necessarily guarantee he'll be a fantasy option, however, and that offensive scheme could change entirely once the enigmatic Rodgers finally hangs up his cleats. 

Jermaine Burton 80th overall, Cincinnati Bengals

You could argue that the majority of these Day 2 receivers fell into better situations than their Day 1 counterparts. Burton might be the most qualified answer of that group with long-time safety net Tyler Boyd still unsigned at this point in the offseason. While I get annoyed with whisperings of "off the field" issues that waft around prospects unjustly so, Burton's problems have been well documented at this point. You'd expect a four-start recruit to have accumulated more than 132 total receptions in 50 collegiate games, and while Burton performed better in his two years at Tuscaloosa, it's fair to wonder if his ceiling as a prospect is already maxed out.

By default, I would assume Burton will primarily play in the slot to kick off his professional career, but this pick might be more about projecting life after Tee Higgins, however near that may be. That he won't have much pressure to be "the" guy in Cincy might be the key that allows Burton to flourish.

Roman Wilson 84th overall, Pittsburgh Steelers

Billed as a speed merchant after registering 12 touchdowns with Michigan last season, Wilson's 4.39 40-yard dash at the Combine was largely unimpressive. Still, with Diontae Johnson now in Carolina and no one outside of George Pickens epitomizing a NFL-quality WR on the roster, Wilson will likely be afforded every opportunity throughout training camp to emerge as the team's starting slot receiver.

Similar speedster Calvin Austin still remains on the team and probably represents the top competition for the role, but Wilson boasts a nearly 25-pound difference between the 2022 fourth-round pick and has significantly more collegiate pedigree attached to his resume. This is the greater question in my mind: does the starting slot receiver in a run-oriented offense led by Arthur Smith and quarterbacked by Russell Wilson matter much? Only the heartiest supporters of the Maize and Blue should remain unfazed by that question.

Jalen McMillan 92nd overall, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

McMillan is a really intriguing prospect because of what he was asked to do in Washington's offense, often occupying the underneath routes to give free reign to Rome Odunze, and to a lesser extent Ja'Lynn Polk. McMillan excelled in that role in 2022 leading the team in receiving (79-1098-9) and was poised to repeat those numbers last season before a knee injury forced him to miss four games opening the door for Polk to emerge as the team's second option (and cement his status as a second-round pick in the eyes of the NFL). Had that not occurred, the redshirt junior would likely have been viewed as a top-60 pick.

The 22-year-old played almost exclusively in the slot at college so at minimum he'll likely push Trey Palmer for the team's No. 3 job, but with Chris Godwin blocking the profitable slot snaps at the professional level and Baker Mayfield naturally capping the offense's passing volume, McMillan might just be stuck in the ether of "intriguing prospect" for the foreseeable future.

Luke McCaffrey 100th overall, Washington Commanders

The youngest McCaffrey, Luke originally committed to Nebraska to play quarterback back in 2019, but after multiple years failing to earn playing time the 23-year-old transferred to Rice. Yet another down season as a signal caller saw McCaffrey convert to wide receiver, quickly becoming one of the team's best targets (131-1732-19) over the past two seasons.

The lineage is obviously there, so if any player can convert from playing quarterback to becoming a prominent NFL wide receiver, I'd bet on the McCaffrey name to figure it out. That being said, Luke will need time to get his footing against NFL competition and the Commanders' receiver corps is relatively flush with names as is.

Tight End

Ben Sinnott 53rd overall, Washington Commanders

Sinnott was a certified weapon for Kansas State, leading the team in receiving yards last season and registering two straight All-Big 12 campaigns. The Wildcats also deployed Sinnott as a FB at times, but it feels unlikely the Commanders see the 6-foot-4 target as anything more than a TE at the next level.

There's questions about Sinnott's blocking capabilities against lengthier defenders and the soon-to-be 22-year-old didn't really display the rugged competitive catch traits you typically expect to see from NFL starting tight ends. But this new era of football has seen bigger-body pass catchers with extreme physical gifts excel more often than not and between Sinnott's 4.68 40-yard dash and wowing 40-inch vertical jump, he'll be able to carve out time within the offense quickly.

Tip Reiman 82nd overall, Arizona Cardinals

Reiman is a hulking presence at 6-foot-5, 271 pounds, but it's hard to see the 22-year-old pushing out Trey McBride for pass-catching work. As a result, the Illinois product likely qualifies as a better real-life player than one in fantasy.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Joe Bartel
Joe Bartel is RotoWire's Operations Specialist and football contributor among many other things. When not at the office, he's probably playing a variety of Gen 4 console games or rooting on his beloved Green Bay Packers.
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