10 Takeaways from the SumerSports 2024 NFL Rookie Draft Guide

by Tej Seth|April 13, 2024

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Be sure to click here for our FREE NFL Rookie Draft Guide, sent directly to your inbox! This article will go over the top 10 takeaways while the full document will have a detailed statistical profile of the top quarterbacks, wide receivers, running backs, and tight ends in this class. While the guide is for all fans, there is also additional information for fantasy and dynasty managers. 

The draft guide is 57 pages worth of information on prospects who have a good chance of being fantasy relevant this upcoming season. Each player has 2023 production statistics, courtesy of our friends at StatsBomb, a predictive athletic score, and 2024 projections. The PDF goes into detail on each player while this article will highlight some broad takeaways. 

This Draft Class is Going to be a Good Test for Pressure to Sack % 

The football analytics community has put together a lot of research on how quarterbacks can have control over how often they take sacks and how sack rate is something that is relatively stable year to year, even when a quarterback changes teams. Pressure to sack (P2S) rate, how often a quarterback takes a sack conditional on being pressured, is also something that is stable and controlled by the quarterback. Research has also shown that a quarterback’s P2S rate is relatively stable from college to pro. Since sacks play a big role in a quarterback’s production, it should make sense that there would be a correlation between a quarterback’s sack avoidance and their EPA/dropback in the NFL. 

What will be interesting to follow is that Caleb Williams and Jayden Daniels, both top five projected picks, have high P2S rates while the next tier of quarterbacks featuring Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix have the two lowest P2S rates in the class. There is a justifiable argument to be made that Williams and Daniels were looking to make hero plays more often because of how often their defense would allow the opposing team to score, however. Regardless, this draft class is going to tell us a lot about how P2S fits into the bigger evaluation picture. 

J.J. McCarthy’s Profile is Very Polarizing 

McCarthy will be one of the more intriguing quarterback prospects to follow over the next few seasons. There is much to like about him as he had the 3rd best completion percentage over expected (CPOE) and 3rd best expected points added per play (EPA/play) of the top eight quarterbacks in this class. He also did well at the combine with a 93rd percentile three cone time and a 70th percentile shuttle time giving him a predictive athletic score in the top 10% of all quarterbacks since 2005. 

However, his 46.2% usage rate (the amount of plays he was involved in compared to the team’s total offensive plays) was the lowest in this class. While one could argue that there is an inherent signal in volume, an easy rebuttal is that Michigan’s run game was very strong and Jim Harbaugh’s offenses typically feature a high run rate regardless of the quarterback. What McCarthy’s low usage rate might mean is that his range of outcomes is widened at the next level compared to the other quarterbacks we saw make more “NFL plays” while in college. 

Age is Being Undervalued in Public Discourse 

Anyone who frequently checks Benajmin Robinson’s GrindingTheMocks or the Pick #2 betting markets has seen Drake Maye start as the favorite to go to the Commanders only to be overtaken by Jayden Daniels in the past couple weeks. On the Draft Guide, Daniels has an expected draft position (EDP) of 2.8 while Maye has an EDP of 3.0. However, comparing Maye to Daniels is not one to one because Maye will be 21.7 years old on draft day while Daniels will be 23.4, so there may be more room for Maye to develop.  

This applies to other positions as well. While Xavier Legette and Ricky Pearsall were productive in 2023, they will also be both 23 years old on draft day. Teams might prefer Keon Coleman and Troy Franklin in that same range since they’re basically two years younger and could be developed further. 

Jonathan Brooks Could Have Been the Consensus RB1 

Texas’ Jonathan Brooks was putting together a very impressive 2023 campaign before his unfortunate ACL tear. Among the top eight running backs in this class, he ranks second in broken tackle rate, second in yards after contract and first in yards per route run – showing he can be an effective pass catching back as well. He also has the versatility to run inside and outside. 

However, we don’t have a great read on what he’ll look like after his injury, so there is added uncertainty there. If it’s what he looked like in 2023, he has a shot to be the best running back of this class. 

Blake Corum’s Injury Impacted Him, Big Time 

Blake Corum suffered a season-ending knee injury late in the 2022 season and that was captured in his 2023 performance. In 2022, he had 5.9 yards per carry but that dropped to 4.8 the following year as he worked his way back from the injury. His advanced stats paint a similar picture as he ranks seventh in broken tackle rate, eight in yards after contract and eight in explosive run rate. While he very well could return to 2022 form, it is still a gamble a team will have to make. 

Want a Specific Type of Wide Receiver? You Can Get One! 

Not only is this one of the best wide receiver classes in recent history, there are also so many different types of receivers in this class: 

  • Downfield Threats – Rome Odunze, Jermaine Burton, and Adonai Mitchell fit that mold. 
  • Elite Separators – Ricky Pearsall, Xavier Legette, and Ladd McConkey all have shown they can do that. 
  • YAC Monsters – Xavier Worthy and Malachi Corley could provide that. 
  • Production Kings – Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Troy Franklin fall in that bucket. 

The Athletic Receiver That Wasn’t Super Productive 

One of the more interesting angles of this draft class is the very athletic receiver who wasn’t very productive in college. There are two receivers in this class that fit that mold well: Adonai Mitchell and Devontez Walker. 

AD Mitchell had a 95th percentile athleticism score at the combine after doing very well in the broad jump, forty, and vertical. However, he ranked 16th in yards per route run out of the 16 receivers in the draft guide.  

Tez Walker had a 97th percentile athleticism score doing well in broad jump, forty, and vertical but ranked 13th in Yards Per Route Run and EPA per route run.  

These two receivers are worth tracking both for their draft slot and how thier careers develop. 

There Might Be Value in Skipping the Tier 2 Receivers 

As mentioned above, this wide receiver class is very strong. There is a clear tier 1 of Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, and Rome Odunze – all of which are expected to be top 10 picks. 

The back half of the first round is expected to be filled by Brian Thomas Jr. and Adonai Mitchell who are in the Tier 2 of this receiver class.  

After that, Tier 3 is filled with Ladd McConkey, Xavier Worthy, Keon Coleman, and Troy Franklin who may be taken at the very end of the 1st round or beginning of the 2nd round. An argument could be made that there isn’t a significant drop-off from Tier 2 to Tier 3 and thus waiting around 20 picks to take a receiver after the first two are gone could be beneficial for a lot of these teams. 

Ben Sinnott Might be the TE2 

There is no disputing that Brock Bowers, a potential top 10 pick, is the TE1 in this class. While Ja’Tavion Sanders and Theo Johnson are currently higher in EDP, Kansas State’s Ben Sinnott has an argument to be the 2nd tight end taken after Bowers. 

Out of the top 6 tight ends in this class, Sinnott had the second highest target share, second highest yards per route run, and had an 81st percentile athleticism score. Sanders had the fourth highest yards per route run and a 77th percentile athleticism score. Johnson had the sixth highest yards per route run and an 85th percentile athleticism score. Sinnott has the production and athleticism to be right up there in the TE2 conversation. 

There is a Dropoff After Pick 8 in Dynasty Drafts 

After combing through KeepTradeCut’s rookie vaues as well as our own projections, it becomes apparent that the first eight picks of a rookie draft are highly valuable relative to the rest of the draft. There are 4 quarterbacks (Williams, Maye, Daniels, McCarthy) who all should get a shot to be a starting quarterback very early in their NFL careers. There are also 3 wide receivers (Harrison Jr., Nabers, Odunze) who could have a WR1 impact very early. There is also Brock Bowers, who some consider to be one of the best tight-end prospects of the last decade.  

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