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2024 All-Rookie Team: Projecting 11 instant-impact newcomers on offense

Getting thrown into the fire is no small task for NFL rookies. After lining up against college competitors of varying skill levels, they now must face veteran pros in the prime of their respective football careers.

It is no surprise that the top-performing rookies typically come from the first, second and third rounds. The players on the 2023 All-Rookie Team included nine first-round picks and 11 Day 2 selections. Three Day 3 picks and two undrafted free agents (Vikings LB Ivan Pace Jr. and Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey) made the squad. Rams record-setting receiver Puka Nacua, a fifth-round pick, was among last year's steals. Other offensive players selected for the All-Rookie Team included first-rounders like Lions running back Jahmyr Gibbs and Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud as well as Day 2 finds such as Lions tight end Sam LaPorta and Dolphins running back De’Von Achane.

My projection for the 2024 All-Rookie Team also leans heavily on early-round picks, though two Day 3 selections made the offense.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 1 overall

Justin Herbert was the 2020 All-Rookie Team quarterback, aided by a strong trio of pass catchers in Keenan Allen, Mike Williams and Hunter Henry. Caleb Williams is walking into a similar situation. Allen is now in Chicago, where he joins the dynamic DJ Moore and No. 9 overall pick Rome Odunze. Cole Kmet and Herbert's former teammate, Gerald Everett, will make some plays at tight end, as well, giving the top selection of the 2024 draft a great chance to be among the league's most prolific passers as a rookie.

Trey Benson
Florida State

Drafted: Round 3, No. 66 overall

Cardinals RB James Conner ran for 1,000-plus yards last year for the first time in his career, but remember how productive Bijan Robinson was for the Falcons as a rookie in 2023 after his Falcons teammate Tyler Allgeier had a 1,000-yard season in 2022? I think we could see a similar situation play out in Arizona, with Benson's explosiveness in the open field resulting in big plays.

Ray Davis

Drafted: Round 4, No. 128 overall

Davis could be the thunder to James Cook's lightning in the Bills offense, giving Buffalo a more powerful one-two punch than it had with Cook and Latavius Murray in 2023. The rookie will thrive in the red zone, taking some of the pressure off quarterback Josh Allen, who ran for 15 scores last season (Cook had just two rushing touchdowns). Defenses filling the box against Davis on early downs could be surprised by his ability as a receiver out of the backfield.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 4 overall

In a pivotal season for Kyler Murray, he’ll need to lean on Harrison early and often. Not every catch will be a big downfield play -- the son of Pro Football Hall of Fame receiver Marvin Harrison will also make third-down grabs over the middle and on the sideline to keep the chains moving. While it won't show up on the stat sheet, Harrison's presence could also open space for running backs Trey Benson and James Conner, as well as the Cardinals' other receivers.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 28 overall

The union between the Chiefs and Worthy represented one of the draft's best marriages of skill and a team’s needs. His ability to run past defenders and make moves after the catch will get him on Patrick Mahomes' radar early in the season. Rashee Rice's off-field issues could lead to opportunities for Worthy, as could any inconsistency shown by veterans Marquise “Hollywood” Brown and Mecole Hardman. Worthy could also earn a spot on the All-Rookie squad as a kick returner.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 13 overall

The Raiders should lean on two tight end sets much more often this year, with Bowers lined up at H-back, on the line or in the slot while 2023 second-round pick Michael Mayer plays the more typical off-tackle spot. Bowers will be a matchup problem for most linebackers and safeties with his quickness, strength and strong hands, giving Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers a foil to stretch defenses vertically and horizontally. While it’s not the strongest part of his game, Bowers should also earn respect for his run blocking on the outside. 

Drafted: Round 1, No. 5 overall

First-year Chargers head coach Jim Harbaugh and GM Joe Hortiz decided to bolster the offensive line instead of picking a receiver in April’s first round, so look for the team to run J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards and rookie Kimani Vidal (whom I considered for this list) behind Alt. The move from left tackle to the right side should not be an issue for the son of former Pro Bowl lineman John Alt, as Joe Alt’s power, football IQ and agility will allow him to succeed. 

Drafted: Round 1, No. 7 overall

Latham is another rookie tackle lining up at a new spot in the pros, moving to the left side with the Titans after stoutly holding down the right side at Alabama. At 6-foot-6, 342 pounds, Latham will be a sturdy wall in pass protection for second-year quarterback Will Levis thanks to his wide base and 35 1/8-inch arms. Latham will also move defenders to create running lanes for new feature back Tony Pollard and backups Tyjae Spears and Hassan Haskins.

Drafted: Round 2, No. 44 overall

Look for Powers-Johnson to be an All-Rookie pick much like past second-round interior offensive linemen Creed Humphrey (Chiefs, 2021), O'Cyrus Torrence (Bills, 2023) and Steve Avila (Rams, 2023). Powers-Johnson starred at center for Oregon last fall but played both guard spots during his career, displaying excellent use of leverage and short-area agility to create blocking angles. Whoever starts at quarterback for the Raiders this year will appreciate the rookie's efforts.

Drafted: Round 4, No. 117 overall

Bortolini was Wisconsin's starting center in 2023 but lined up at both guard spots and right tackle the previous two seasons. He might take over for long-time starting center Ryan Kelly in the future, but don't be surprised if he gives veteran Will Fries a battle for the right guard spot. That’s where 2023 second-round pick (and fellow former Badger) Joe Tippmann started early last season with the Jets before shuffling to the pivot. Bortolini’s plus athleticism and toughness might get him on the field much sooner than many would expect from a fourth-round pick.

Drafted: Round 1, No. 26 overall

The Buccaneers landed the best center in the draft, a much-needed addition for a team that wants to win a fourth straight NFC South title and make a deeper playoff run this time around. Barton can play any spot on the offensive line despite his average length. Also, he possesses the intelligence to handle calling protections and making adjustments in the middle of the line. There are many accolades in his future, including a spot on the 2024 All-Rookie Team.

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