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Post-NFL Draft Power Rankings: Bears rise, Falcons slide, Chiefs still reign

Written by on May 6, 2024

The NFL Draft is complete, which means the country’s most dominant sports league will now take a short break from dominating television ratings and the athletic world’s oxygen (no offense to Schedule Release Day or the social media teams that work so hard to make that fun). But before we get started on summer, the Power Rankings will assess where everyone stands after their rookie additions.

Post-free agency rank: 1

Dane Brugler’s draft ranking: 13

The Chiefs have managed to muddle through just fine in the two seasons since trading Tyreek Hill to the Dolphins. In fact, they’ve won two Super Bowls. Still, they seem to have decided a three-peat might be easier with another jet-pack wide receiver. That’s why they traded up for Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy, who ran the fastest 40-yard dash in NFL combine history (4.21).

Post-free agency rank: 2

Brugler’s draft ranking: 25

Did the 49ers take Florida wide receiver Ricky Pearsall because they plan to trade Brandon Aiyuk or Deebo Samuel? Or did they did do it because coach Kyle Shanahan just wants another tough-as-nails wide receiver to terrorize defenses? We don’t know yet, but they did strengthen their defense with two defensive backs (Renardo Green and Malik Mustapha) who will help right away.

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Post-free agency rank: 3

Brugler’s draft ranking: 3

Detroit was 28th last season in defensive passing EPA so it used its first two picks on cornerbacks. Sensible enough. Then the Lions returned to their contrarian form by using their third pick (a fourth-rounder, which they acquired by trading away a 2025 third-rounder) on a Tongan offensive tackle from Canada (Giovanni Manu) whom Brugler projected as a priority free agent. That’s the wacky Brad Holmes-Dan Campbell Lions we’ve come to love here.


The Ravens know what they’re doing in the draft, and second-round pick Roger Rosengarten will fit right in. (Ken Murray / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Post-free agency rank: 6

Brugler’s draft ranking: 12

Baltimore did Baltimore things in the draft, stockpiling players at premium positions up and down the board. The beauty of the Ravens’ approach is they never seem to need immediate help. This is still the team that led the NFL in point margin last year (plus-203). Second-round offensive tackle Roger Rosengarten could end up being one of the steals of the draft.

Post-free agency rank: 4

Brugler’s draft ranking: 28

The Texans added a lot of players (nine) but nobody who is expected to move the needle much this season. Having no first-round pick this year is the price they paid for wheeling and dealing in last year’s draft. It’s a price they were happy to pay considering they got quarterback C.J. Stroud and edge Will Anderson Jr. in that draft, which is why they’re still high on this list.

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Post-free agency rank: 5

Brugler’s draft ranking: 21

While everyone’s draft focus was on the Falcons saying they were trying to turbocharge the Packers’ quarterback succession model, Green Bay might have quietly done it again. The Packers picked Tulane quarterback Michael Pratt in the seventh round. The 6-foot-3, 217-pound Pratt might have to wait a long time if he’s going to succeed Jordan Love, but he’s more than worth the gamble at pick No. 245 after starting 44 college games and throwing 90 career touchdowns.

Post-free agency rank: 9

Brugler’s draft ranking: 10

For 51 weeks of the year, it feels like the Cowboys are all over the map. Somebody, usually the owner, is saying quizzical things. Expectations are being elevated and then left unmet. And then comes draft week, and Cowboys just quietly go about doing a very good job. It’s why they get away with all the other stuff. Dallas got value with all three of its top picks, and second-round edge rusher Marshawn Kneeland could be a star. (Adding back Ezekiel Elliott in free agency doesn’t move the needle much at this point.)

Post-free agency rank: 7

Brugler’s draft ranking: 30

It’s tough to add much help when your first pick is at No. 54, but Cleveland was still paying bills from the Deshaun Watson trade. The good news is that trade is now officially complete, and the Browns will have a first-round draft pick in 2025 for the first time since 2021. Unless, of course, they make another deal.

Post-free agency rank: 8

Brugler’s draft ranking: 18

Let’s take a moment to visualize Cincinnati’s dream offensive line of the future. The Bengals used their first-round pick on 6-8, 340-pound Amarius Mims even though Mims made only eight college starts. Cincinnati already has 6-8, 345-pound Orlando Brown Jr. entrenched at left tackle and 6-8, 355-pound Trent Brown penciled in on the right side on a one-year contract. It’s possible Mims won’t start this season, but if he does, it will be fun to watch.


Wide receiver Keon Coleman is a key addition for Josh Allen and the Bills, who no longer have Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis. (Don Juan Moore / Getty Images)

Post-free agency rank: 10

Brugler’s draft ranking: 20

The draft was another reminder that the Bills are in a controlled rebuild. They traded all the way out of the first round to add more affordable assets to the roster. The good news is they still came away with a pretty good receiver with their first pick, taking Florida State’s Keon Coleman with the first choice of the second round. If Coleman can develop a quick connection with Josh Allen, it will go a long way toward stabilizing Buffalo’s reset.

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Post-free agency rank: 16

Brugler’s draft ranking: 4

After grabbing two of the top corners early in the draft, Philadelphia added some potential high-reward players in Round 3 and later. Edge rusher Jalyx Hunt out of Houston Christian (6-4, 252 pounds) is a perfect example. Hunt started his career as an Ivy League safety, but he had the fifth-longest arms of any edge rusher in this class and is an explosive athlete who could turn into a steal.

Post-free agency rank: 11

Brugler’s draft ranking: 24

Jared Verse must feel special. That’s whom Los Angeles picked with its first first-round pick since 2016 (which it spent on Jared Goff). Verse, and his former Florida State teammate Braden Fiske, a defensive tackle, will help a defense that finished 22nd last year in points allowed (22.2). Now if they can keep quarterback Matthew Stafford happy (he wants a contract adjustment with more guaranteed money, NFL Network reported during the draft), they’ll be a sleeper NFC title game candidate.

Post-free agency rank: 23

Brugler’s draft ranking: 1

No one moved up more in this edition of the Power Rankings than the Bears, who drafted uber-talented quarterback Caleb Williams with the No. 1 pick and elite wide receiver prospect Rome Odunze with the No. 9 pick. They made only five draft picks, but that’s not doing anything to slow down expectations in Chicago. The Bears have one division title in the last 13 years, but they’re expected to be true challengers to the Lions and Packers this year.

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Post-free agency rank: 14

Brugler’s draft ranking: 14

The Colts landed two of the draft’s most talented players with their first two picks, which is impressive considering those picks came at 15 and 52. They did have to take on some risk to do it, though. UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu medically retired from football at one point in his college career, and Texas wide receiver Adonai Mitchell raised some concerns about non-football issues in the scouting community. (Don’t tell GM Chris Ballard about that second part, though. He doesn’t want to hear it.)

Post-free agency rank: 12

Brugler’s draft ranking: 22

Jason Licht might be the NFL’s poster boy for patience. Licht has been the Buccaneers’ general manager since 2014. In four of his first five seasons, Tampa Bay finished last in the NFC South. Now the Bucs have won the division three years in a row, and Licht seems to keep bringing in good players. This year, he got every analyst’s favorite under-the-radar offensive lineman, Duke’s Graham Barton.

Post-free agency rank: 13

Brugler’s draft ranking: 23

Mike McDaniel is committed to the bit. The head coach of the NFL’s fastest team traded up to take the second-fastest running back in this year’s draft in Round 4 (Tennessee’s Jaylen Wright) and then drafted a high school sprinting state champion — Virginia wide receiver Malik Washington — in the fifth round. Give him credit, too, for getting big guys in the first two rounds in edge Chop Robinson and offensive tackle Patrick Paul.

Post-free agency rank: 15

Brugler’s draft ranking: 17

The Jets drafted an Aaron Rodgers support staff, getting offensive tackle Olu Fashanu, wide receiver Malachi Corley and running back Braelon Allen with their first three picks. Fashanu might not start right away, but he has that kind of talent, and Corley should join Mike Williams and Garrett Wilson in the starting lineup immediately.

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Post-free agency rank: 22

Brugler’s draft ranking: 2

Whoever ends up playing quarterback for the Steelers (Russell Wilson and Justin Fields are the contenders, in case you hadn’t heard), he should have plenty of protection. Pittsburgh took three offensive linemen, including two of the feistiest in this draft (tackle Troy Fautanu and center Zach Frazier), with their first two picks.

Post-free agency rank: 18

Brugler’s draft ranking: 16

Seattle’s first two picks weigh a combined 614 pounds, so we know general manager John Schneider, in his first draft post-Pete Carroll, wanted to rebuild the Seahawks’ trenches. Defensive tackle Bryron Murphy II (6-foot, 297 pounds) might end up being the best defensive player in this draft, and guard Christian Haynes (6-3, 317) will provide immediate offensive line depth and a possible Day 1 starter.


If quarterback J.J. McCarthy is as good as the Vikings believe he is, they’ll be in great shape. (Rick Osentoski / USA Today)

Post-free agency rank: 19

Brugler’s draft ranking: 15

If J.J. McCarthy is as good as (or even close to as good as) Kirk Cousins, the Vikings will have had the best draft of the year. If he’s not the guy, then Minnesota will have let a solid veteran quarterback leave and then expended a lot of draft assets only to fail to answer the quarterback question. Getting Alabama edge Dallas Turner at No. 17 is a nice touch either way.

Post-free agency rank: 26

Brugler’s draft ranking: 6

Jim Harbaugh stuck to his guns. After saying for weeks leading up to the draft that his team placed a premium on offensive linemen, he passed on two elite wide receiver prospects (Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze) to take offensive tackle Joe Alt fifth. “Offensive linemen we look at as weapons,” Harbaugh said. “Offensive line is the tip of the spear.”

Post-free agency rank: 17

Brugler’s draft ranking: 32

The talk of the draft, but not for the right reasons, the Falcons passed on their best chance to make the 2024 team better by drafting quarterback Michael Penix Jr. with the No. 8 pick. It might turn out to be a genius move for the future, but it won’t help this year with Penix sitting behind Kirk Cousins. The five front-seven defenders they drafted after Penix might help, though.

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Post-free agency rank: 28

Brugler’s draft ranking: 9

The Commanders completed their extreme home makeover (the owner, general manager and head coach are all brand new) with their quarterback of the future. At least, that’s the hope. Former LSU quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Jayden Daniels was the most physically dynamic quarterback on the board, but he does not come without risk. Should be a fun season in Washington, which would be new, too.

Post-free agency rank: 29

Brugler’s draft ranking: 8

The Patriots had the good fortune to be picking third in a draft that had three highly regarded quarterback prospects. And they had the good sense to simply take North Carolina’s Drake Maye instead of trading the pick. New England signed Jacoby Brissett in free agency, so it can afford to give Maye plenty of time to get ready before throwing him into an offense that isn’t good enough to help him as a rookie.

Post-free agency rank: 21

Brugler’s draft ranking: 11

The Raiders were rumored to be in the quarterback trade market but stayed in their draft slot and took the best player available — Georgia tight end Brock Bowers. It was a very un-Vegas move. Then they compounded the common sense by taking offensive linemen with their next two picks.

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Post-free agency rank: 20

Brugler’s draft ranking: 29

The Jaguars like LSU players, and they don’t much care what everyone else thinks of their new players. Jacksonville started the draft by taking wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr., the first of three Tigers it drafted. The next eight players all ranked among some of the biggest reaches in the draft based on consensus mock draft rankings.


Wide receiver Malik Nabers should give Daniel Jones and the Giants offense an immediate boost. (John Korduner / Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Post-free agency rank: 27

Brugler’s draft ranking: 7

The Giants passed on an opportunity to get out of the Daniel Jones business and really shake up the draft by taking a quarterback with the sixth pick. Instead, they went with dynamic wide receiver Malik Nabers in hopes he’ll help lift Jones to another level. If that doesn’t work, New York can exit Jones’ contract pretty easily after this year. It did bring in Drew Lock as a veteran contingency plan.

Post-free agency rank: 24

Brugler’s draft ranking: 26

The Titans got bigger in the draft. A lot bigger, using their first pick on 342-pound offensive tackle JC Latham and their second pick on 366-pound defensive tackle T’Vondre Sweat. The Sweat pick in the second round (No. 38) raised eyebrows because he wasn’t expected to go nearly that high, but if he matures and can keep his weight in check, he could be a superstar. Latham is expected to be a Day 1 starter.

Post-free agency rank: 31

Brugler’s draft ranking: 5

This was the draft Arizona had been waiting for. The Cardinals had seven of the first 90 picks. Teams generally hope to get at least starting-quality players out of that type of draft capital. If Arizona did that, its turnaround could begin now.

Post-free agency rank: 30

Brugler’s draft ranking: 19

The Saints might have stumbled into their next starting quarterback … or into a quarterback controversy. New Orleans drafted South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler with the 150th pick. Given current starter Derek Carr’s sometimes shaky hold on the job and Rattler’s NFL arm, Saints fans might be calling for a change by midseason.

Post-free agency rank: 25

Brugler’s draft ranking: 31

The Falcons’ quarterback selection kept Denver off the national hot seat. The Broncos took Oregon quarterback Bo Nix at No. 12, which was 32 spots higher than The Athletic’s Dane Brugler had him ranked. If it works, Sean Payton can turn Denver around quickly. If it doesn’t, it’ll be another in a series of very curious Broncos moves.

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Post-free agency rank: 32

Brugler’s draft ranking: 27

Owner David Tepper stole the show again. And, again, not in a good way. Tepper turned the draft weekend narrative on himself when he stopped at a local bar to question the owner about a snarky sign out front. There’s a reason Carolina has occupied this spot in the rankings for so long.

(Top photo of Caleb Williams: Michael Reaves / Getty Images)

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