NFL Analysis


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NFL Teams That Improved The Most In 2024 NFL Draft

Ohio State Buckeyes wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by the Arizona Cardinals as the No. 4 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft at Campus Martius Park and Hart Plaza. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The 2024 NFL Draft will be franchise-changing for a handful of organizations. Hitting on a star or two in a draft class makes winning much easier. Of course, the teams with the most draft picks had the easiest path to improving their rosters, but it's not as easy as making more selections.

We've whittled our list of this year's best draft classes to six. These teams have earned the title of one of the most improved rosters after the draft. These hauls featured significant talent across multiple positions and addressed key needs.

>> READ: Grading Every 2024 NFL Draft Pick

Most Improved Rosters After 2024 NFL Draft

Arizona Cardinals

With seven selections within the top 90 and eight by the time the 104th pick passed, the Arizona Cardinals added a massive amount of talent to their barren roster. 

In total, 11 rookies will be fighting to make the team's final 53-man roster, and the majority have a good shot of earning at least a backup spot, considering the lack of depth across it. The class will be defined not only by this newfound depth but, of course, by the star power that emerges.

Marvin Harrison Jr. is as close to a sure thing as any athlete entering the league. Arizona desperately needed a playmaker, and the team gave Kyler Murray his in-his-prime version of DeAndre Hopkins.

Murray will also benefit from the additions of RB Trey Benson, IOL Isaiah Adams and blocking TE Tip Reiman. The latter was a reach, considering there were better receiving options on the board, but Arizona is looking for Trey McBride’s complement instead of a replacement. Adams should slide into the starting left guard job right away.

Benson is especially exciting because Arizona already has James Conner, so the explosive rookie from Florida State is the perfect platoon partner for the veteran. Both players can stay fresher and more efficient with a capable option ready to swap in.

The Cardinals' defensive additions will significantly help the secondary. First-round EDGE Darius Robinson's game is similar to Jadeveon Clowney's, so his physicality, versatility and effort give him Year 1 impact expectations. 

Then, the four rookies added to the defensive backfield can compete for playing time in the NFL's worst cornerback room.

>> READ: Marvin Harrison Jr.'s Scouting Report

Washington Huskies offensive tackle Troy Fautanu
Washington Huskies offensive lineman Troy Fautanu (55) against the Michigan Wolverines during the 2024 College Football Playoff national championship game. (Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports)

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers have put together consecutive excellent draft hauls. 

Knowing they have two starting-caliber quarterbacks on the roster but are lacking the blocking talent to help them, the Steelers aggressively addressed the offense. It's impossible to be upset with how this class played out for them.

First-round OT Troy Fautanu was projected to go as high as the 10th overall pick before the draft. His immediate ability to play is a massive boost for a team that lacked a decent starting option at left tackle. Fautanu plays very well within his skill set and is as consistent as they come, so his impact should be tangible. 

Then, the addition of C Zach Frazier in the second round further bolstered the unit. He was in play to be a late first-round pick, so Pittsburgh found most teams' top-ranked center at a tremendous value. Frazier's strength and pass-blocking ability stand out, complementing a line that needed more of a power presence.

The other significant value was LB Payton Wilson. Pittsburgh has lacked athletic, instinctual playmakers at the position for years, so finding Wilson and pairing him with Patrick Queen makes a lot of sense. Wilson's injury history likely caused his slide, but he moves incredibly well with his 6-foot-4, 237-pound frame.

Day 3 additions Mason McCormick and Logan Lee stand out as potential contributors down the road. McCormick likely has the easiest path to playing time and could replace OL James Daniels in 2025. McCormick plays too upright, but that's something he can hone in on this season.

We also like UDFA signee Beanie Bishop Jr. The West Virginia slot cornerback should push to play in 2024 — he boasts incredible ball skills and natural athleticism. He went undrafted because he played only one season with the Mountaineers and turns 25 soon, so he aged out of most teams' draft guidelines. 

>> READ: Why Zach Frazier Was Such a Steal for Steelers

Jayden Daniels poses with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell. He was selected by the Washington Commanders as the No. 2 pick in the first round. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

Washington Commanders

Like Arizona, the Washington Commanders had a bevy of top-100 picks, making their job easier. Taking Jayden Daniels at No. 2 will either be tremendous or they'll be left wondering whether they made the right decision if the LSU star doesn't outplay the quarterbacks taken behind him. 

However, he's an upgrade on what the team has had in quite some time.

Adding three second-rounders and two third-rounders should pay off quickly. Although it remains to be seen whether Washington erred by passing on an offensive tackle in Round 2, third-round selection Brandon Coleman is experienced at the position, and 2023 fourth-rounder Braeden Daniels can compete for the role. 

CB Mike Sainristil should quickly take to Dan Quinn's aggressive defense, and TE Ben Sinnott is a natural offensive weapon who can move all around the field.

Washington's draft was a mixed bag of value, with second-round DT Jer'Zhan Newton especially standing out as a huge positive net addition. Sinnott, Sainristil and third-round WR Luke McCaffrey aren’t good values relative to their expected draft range, but only McCaffrey sticks out as a questionable selection.

One factor in Washington's draft plan was the status of its roster entering the event. The team added a ton of depth and executed a balanced approach, adding players with upside and the ability to provide immediate help. 

That's not an easy line to toe, but this class looks solid, considering how the board fell for the Commanders. 

>> READ: Jayden Daniels Scouting Report

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears did more with less, which is tough when other teams had double or triple the number of picks to use. 

Obviously, landing Caleb Williams at No. 1 should alter the franchise's fate, but the Bears' class goes beyond the explosive quarterback. Even if Chicago is considered lucky to grab WR Rome Odunze at No. 9, its remaining three picks show that the Bears prepared for several outcomes.

Grabbing Odunze instead of an offensive tackle or the draft's first defensive player is a bold call. There was a long-term need for a receiver, given Keenan Allen is in the final year of his contract. Chicago didn't view left tackle as a critical need and stuck with their board's top-remaining player.

Odunze and Williams are a dream pairing based on their skill sets. They seemed pretty close during the pre-draft process, so they already have chemistry. While Chicago could've used another impact defensive end, this class didn’t have great options.

Instead, fifth-round pick Austin Booker fills the developmental role. Built similarly to Montez Sweat, Booker is raw and inexperienced. His size and athleticism are impressive, though, and seeing him fall out of Day 2 was shocking.

Third-round pick Kiran Amegadjie also stood out as a good value. The versatile, strong blocker can line up at tackle or guard, providing great depth. He was in the mix to go in Round 2, but a season-ending injury late in the year usurped some of his momentum.

>> READ: Caleb Williams Scouting Report

Kansas City Chiefs

It's not great for the rest of the league when the defending Super Bowl champions improve. 

It was stunning to see the Buffalo Bills hand the Kansas City Chiefs Xavier Worthy in a trade that sent shockwaves across the league. 

While Worthy wasn't an elite prospect, giving Patrick Mahomes another speedster who thrives with the ball in his hands looks like a big mistake. The Chiefs just won two titles with a lackluster receiving unit and now have Worthy, Marquise Brown, Travis Kelce and Rashee Rice. Plus, fourth-round TE Jared Wiley gives Mahomes another middle-of-the-field target.

The ensuing picks might help Kansas City even more. The Chiefs added three blockers to one of the best lines in the league, and second-round pick Kingsley Suamataia was one of the best athletes in the class. He'll seamlessly slide into the left tackle role, while fifth-round pick Hunter Nourzad allows the Chiefs to consider moving Creed Humphrey to guard when Trey Smith's contract is up.

Day 3 defensive backs Jaden Hicks and Kamal Hadden round out the impressive class. Hadden's profile is strikingly similar to L'Jarius Sneed's, and Hadden could be the team's next late-round gem. Hicks is a hard-hitter with coverage potential, but he won't be forced onto the field in 2024. 

>> READ: Chiefs Get Two of Draft's Biggest Steals

Malik Nabers poses with fans after being selected by the New York Giants as the No. 6 pick in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. (Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports)

New York Giants

While the New York Giants rolled the dice by passing on quarterbacks J.J. McCarthy, Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix, their roster is better today. 

Adding star WR Malik Nabers changes the ceiling for a unit that ranked last in plays of 20 or more yards in 2022 and the bottom three last year. But New York also added TE Theo Johnson and RB Tyrone Tracy Jr. to its offense.

Johnson and Tracy were two of the draft’s most athletic playmakers, ranking in the 99th percentile for combine scores in the last 37 years. Injecting their speed will help everyone, including coach Brian Daboll and QB Daniel Jones, do their jobs better. 

Even in smaller roles, the Giants' offense got a little scarier. 

The defense might've received an even bigger boost, which is impressive, considering they allocated only three picks to the unit. Tyler Nubin is an elite ballhawk as a single-high safety, mitigating the loss of Xavier McKinney and giving the unit more flexibility. He's joined by the fluid and speedy corner Andru Phillips. 

Overall, New York is faster and less predictable. There's less pressure on unreliable players than there was last season, and this staff can get more creative.

>> READ: Malik Nabers Scouting Report