NFL Analysis


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7 Fun Team-Player Fits From 2024 NFL Draft

May 10, 2024; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears wide receiver Rome Odunze during a press conference before Chicago Bears rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

Throughout draft season, we project what prospects will play in the NFL. While we focus on their traits, that’s only part of the equation. For many players, team fit is a significant piece of the puzzle for future success.

Earlier in the week, we looked at rookies who could make an instant impact on their teams. Today, we’ll examine some of the most fun team-player fits from the 2024 NFL Draft. For this exercise, we'll avoid quarterbacks and any players we featured in the previous piece.

Fun Team-Player Fits

Rome Odzune, WR, Chicago Bears

Rome Odunze falling to the Chicago Bears at the ninth overall pick felt like something that popped up so often in mock drafts that it was destined not to become a reality. But after the first picks came off the board, Odunze was there for Chicago.

Adding him to a wide receiver group with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen might suppress some rookie season production regarding raw volume. Still, Odunze's fit is perfect on the outside in 11 personnel.

As a rookie, he can be a deep threat to stretch the field. Last season with Washington, 42 percent of his routes were deep — he was a big part of the Huskies' vertical offense with Michael Penix Jr. No receiver in college football last season had more targets, receptions or yards on passes of 20 or more air yards than Odunze. 

That fits so well with new Bears QB Caleb Williams, who had a 93rd-percentile deep completion rate among quarterback draft prospects.

Once Odunze steps on the field, he could be a mismatch against outside CB2s. His ability to slide inside could make the Bears’ trio a bunch of fun to move around throughout a game.

Texas Longhorns defensive lineman Byron Murphy II (90) celebrates after a play during the second quarter in the 2024 Sugar Bowl. (John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports.)

Byron Murphy, IDL, Seattle Seahawks

If there's a coach who can get the most out of a disruptive interior defender, it might be Mike Macdonald. Macdonald oversaw Justin Madubuike’s breakout in Baltimore last season, and Byron Murphy possesses similar traits.

Murphy had 33 pressures last season and a nine percent higher pressure rate than expected, per SIS. His quick first step often gives him an advantage against opposing interior linemen, and the Seattle Seahawks could use that type of piece upfront.

Mcdonald moved Madubuike around the line, and Murphy could provide the same versatility. During the past two seasons at Texas, Murphy lined up as a nose tackle around 30 percent of the time, which makes some of his pressure numbers even more impressive.

He can be the type of player who is a force multiplier along the line. His presence could open up more opportunities for other linemen such as Leonard Williams, who had a nice half-season after his trade to Seattle last year. 

The pass rush should also work in tandem with a strong secondary featuring Devon Witherspoon and Tariq Woolen. 

Clemson Tigers cornerback Nate Wiggins (2) smiles after breaking up a pass to South Carolina wide receiver Nyck Harbor (8) during the fourth quarter at Williams-Brice Stadium. (Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports.)

Nate Wiggins, CB, Baltimore Ravens

Nate Wiggins is slight for a corner. His weight (173 pounds) is in the second percentile, but he has the length, athleticism and physicality to make that size work on the outside.

No cornerback in this draft class played more man coverage than Wiggins did at Clemson last season (53 percent of pass plays, per SIS). His 32 percent positive-play rate allowed in man was impressive, especially given his volume of plays.

The Baltimore Ravens played the league’s 13th-most man coverage last season, per TruMedia, but they also mix up a ton of coverages with the sixth-highest rate of two-high coverages. Macdonald is gone, but new defensive coordinator Zach Orr is not expected to make massive changes to the scheme.

In zone, Wiggins was one of the best corners in college football. He allowed class bests of 0.1 yard per coverage snap and a 17 percent success rate.

Regardless of how the Ravens deploy Wiggins, he’ll bring the coverage ability and swagger that should make him a welcome addition to this secondary — one that desperately needed a second cornerback throughout last season. 

Xavier Legette, WR, Carolina Panthers

Xavier Legette was a surprise first-round pick for some, especially because the Carolina Panthers moved up one spot to pick No. 32 to draft him. But Legette has a fun skill set that should fit right in to make life easier for Bryce Young.

Few receivers of Legette’s size (6-foot-1, 221 pounds) are as fast and explosive. While he was a late breakout with his best season in Year 5, he carried South Carolina’s offense last season. 

He came out with the highest target yards added in this draft class, which accounts for the difference between a receiver’s targets and anyone else’s in an offense.

Legette has the deep speed to win downfield and the physicality to win at the catch point. That can work if new coach Dave Canales wants to use Legette like DK Metcalf, a big and fast receiver who runs straight down the field. However, Legette also has impressive yards-after-the-catch ability, so he could be used in an early Deebo Samuel–type role.

The fun of Legette is he can be a choose-your-own-adventure type of receiver based on what the offense needs. And the Panthers need all of it.

Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper
Texas A&M Aggies linebacker Edgerrin Cooper (45) sacks Auburn Tigers quarterback Payton Thorne (1) during the first quarter at Kyle Field. (Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports.)

Edgerrin Cooper, LB, Green Bay Packers

The Green Bay Packers’ defense will look different this season — which is music to the ears of all Packers fans. 

In the Joe Barry defense, which borrowed from Vic Fangio's principles, the defensive line was responsible for holding blocks and accounting for multiple gaps, while the linebackers needed to fit the run behind them.

New defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley wants the front to play faster and more aggressively. That will free up the linebackers to chase and tackle in the open field. That works better for Edgerrin Cooper, who ran a 93rd-percentile 40-yard dash for linebackers. Cooper has the speed and instincts to slide in as a potential Day 1 starter next to Quay Walker.

Cooper’s average tackle last season was 47 percent closer to the line than expected, and he’s a sure tackler who doesn’t allow broken or missed tackles at a high rate.

The Packers should also be more aggressive with blitzes and sim pressures, which also fits Cooper’s game. Last season, he blitzed on 25 percent of his pass snaps with a 39 percent pressure rate and eight sacks. He can be a playmaker all over the field in this new, aggressive Green Bay defense.

Tennessee running back Jaylen Wright carries the football
Tennessee Volunteers running back Jaylen Wright (0) runs the ball against the Vanderbilt Commodores during the first half at Neyland Stadium. (Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports)

Jaylen Wright, RB, Miami Dolphins

Jaylen Wright runs fast. Not sure what more you want for a fun fit with the Miami Dolphins' offense. End of writeup.

OK, here's more.

Wright is more than just pure speed, though the 4.38-second 40-yard dash he ran at 210 pounds certainly helps. He has a good jump cut with effective enough vision to hit a hole and go. That will play in a Miami offense that created so many open running lanes on the outside, allowing the speed backs to get to the edge untouched. 

That will be big for Wright, who was only hit at the line on four percent of his rushing attempts at Tennessee last season. 

But Wright also has enough power to run through tackle attempts from smaller defenders. His 4.1 yards after contact per attempt were the second-best in this draft class. 

Last year, Wright had a 53 percent success rate running inside and 51 percent to the outside.

He can be a versatile runner who can spell Raheem Mostert and De’Von Achane late in games or late in the season. He also provides roster depth that protects the Dolphins if they lose one or both backs to injury. 

Virginia Cavaliers wide receiver Malik Washington (4) runs with the ball en route to a touchdown as Duke Blue Devils safety Jaylen Stinson (2) chases. (Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports)

Malik Washington, WR, Miami Dolphins

Even as a sixth-round pick, Malik Washington could have made the instant impact piece we wrote earlier in the week. However, after the Dolphins officially signed Odell Beckham Jr., Washington might not have as big of an immediate role.

Still, his fit remains promising.

Washington is a smaller receiver (5-foot-8 and 191 pounds) who runs like one twice his size. He invites contact and bounces off attempted tackles, with at least 0.3 broken tackle per reception in the past two seasons.

He was Virginia's only legitimate receiving option in 2023. Washington had to make magic happen off screens and was a dangerous short-area target. He took over multiple games (watch his 10-catch, 170-yard game against North Carolina State) while only finishing two with fewer than 100 yards (and he had 97 yards in one of them). 

His size might restrict him to the slot — he played 84 percent of his snaps there last season — but he has the technique to play on the outside. He could also fit seamlessly into a motion-heavy role, allowing him to avoid press coverage and get him into space to work downfield.