2024 NFL Draft order: Patriots climb to No. 2 overall; Commanders hit top five

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This is a look at the first-round order for the 2024 NFL Draft heading into Week 14 of the 2023 NFL season, along with the top five needs for each team. The order is determined by record, using strength of schedule as the first tiebreaker (click here to see a full list of the draft-order tiebreakers). Keep in mind — teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today are marked as PL (short for playoffs) in the order below. The draft order for playoff teams is determined by the results of postseason play.

Thanks to the Montez Sweat acquisition and extension, one pass rusher has been locked up for 2024 and beyond. However, Chicago will likely need to find another edge defender in the top half of the draft, as Yannick Ngakoue and Rasheem Green have not consistently pressured QBs this season and are impending free agents

The ankle injury suffered by Rhamondre Stevenson against the Chargers on Sunday severely depleted the Patriots’ depth at running back. Veteran Zeke Elliott has been solid but not spectacular since coming aboard in August on a one-year deal, so the team needs to add youth to its backfield this offseason.

The Cardinals have rolled with a young secondary this season, with 2023 selections Garrett Williams and Kei’Trel Clark, as well as undrafted rookie Starling Thomas V, all seeing significant snaps. Finding a true stopper on the outside should be in the team’s vision, though, and with six picks over the first two days of the draft, Arizona has the capital to make that happen.

New owner Josh Harris is expected to examine all parts of the Commanders’ organization after the season. Sam Howell has performed well in spots this year, despite facing constant pressure up front, but if Harris isn’t sold on the 2022 fifth-round pick, he may want “his guy” to lead the franchise. Picking at the top of the draft means all possibilities are on the table.

The Giants traded Leonard Williams at the deadline instead of extending his contract. And with veteran A’Shawn Robinson scheduled to hit free agency, they’ll need to find at least one defensive lineman in the draft to work with Dexter Lawrence and Rakeem Nunez-Roches.

DeAndre Hopkins and Will Levis are growing together this year in the hopes of becoming an elite combination in 2024. The makeup of the rest of the receiver group is yet to be determined, with former first-round pick Treylon Burks failing to live up to his draft billing and steady veterans Chris Moore and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine on expiring deals.

The Jets could have two new starting offensive tackles next year. Former first-round pick Mekhi Becton (2020) is due to hit free agency after the team declined to exercise his fifth-year option, and former fourth-rounders Max Mitchell (2022) and Carter Warren (2023) are unproven. General manager Joe Douglas needs to do his best to keep Aaron Rodgers healthy next season, and improving the offensive line would be a good start.

The Saints defense struggled early against the Lions, eventually giving up 142 rushing yards and allowing rookie tight end Sam LaPorta to post a career-best performance. The unit steadied the ship a bit in the second half, but changes are coming at the linebacker position, with free agent Zack Baun and others potentially looking for new homes next season.

The cornerback room has had a revolving door this year, with the signing of Jack Jones and the release of veterans Marcus Peters and David Long in recent weeks. With Brandon Facyson a potential offseason cut candidate (he’s been on IR since early September), and with Amik Robertson being an upcoming free agent, Vegas could see a complete turnover at the position in 2024.

Veteran linebackers Lavonte David and Devin White both missed Sunday’s game against Carolina due to injury, as did rookie SirVocea DennisK.J. Britt then exited the game due to a back injury, leaving the team in dire straits. Thankfully, little-used J.J. Russell stepped up against a poor Panthers offense, but the team will need to bolster this linebacker group if free agents David and White are not around in 2024.

The Chargers unloaded cornerback J.C. Jackson (and his massive contract) to the Patriots earlier this year and have one of the worst passing defenses in the league. They handled an underwhelming Patriots offense this week, but one or two cornerback selections are likely in April, given the state of the team’s depth chart.

Von Miller‘s recent arrest on domestic violence charges could affect his return to the team in 2024, which was already an uncertainty because of his minimal production, age (he’ll turn 35 in March) and significant cap numberLeonard FloydA.J. Epenesa and Shaq Lawson are also going to be free agents, so an infusion of young pass rushers could be on the way.

Jamal Adams has yet to play more than 12 games in a season since joining Seattle back in 2020, and Quandre Diggs, who turns 31 in January, could be a potential cap casualty. While Julian Love has seen plenty of playing time this season and could take on an even greater role in 2024, he’ll be entering a contract year. The Seahawks might benefit from using a middle-round pick in April to bolster the back half of their secondary with youngsters who could learn from the veterans who remain on hand.

Kareem Jackson and P.J. Locke are impending free agents, while franchise mainstay Justin Simmons will be entering a contract year in 2024. I would not be surprised if the Broncos invested a mid-round pick in a DB to compete with recent Day 3 picks Delarrin Turner-Yell and JL Skinner.

Christian Rozeboom and Troy Reeder have started next to Ernest Jones at linebacker this year at times, but neither is inked for 2024 (Rozeboom is set to be a restricted free agent). GM Les Snead could be looking for bargains on Day 3 to add depth to the second level of the defense.

Cincinnati will be searching for a new starting right tackle if Jonah Williams leaves in free agency for an opportunity to play left tackle. Orlando Brown will likely remain Joe Burrow‘s blind-side protector in 2024, but there’s not much depth behind him — and the Bengals can’t afford to take any chances with Burrow’s health if they want to return to the Super Bowl next year.

The starting outside cornerback spot opposite A.J. Terrell might be up for grabs in 2024, as Jeff Okudah and Tre Flowers will be free agents in March. Rookie Clark Phillips III got a chance to shine, thanks to an injury that sent Terrell to the sideline early in the team’s win over the Jets — which also illustrates why teams build depth in the secondary through the draft.

Minnesota must decide whether to bring back midseason signee Dalton Risner this offseason and/or backup Chris Reed. Even if Risner returns, the Vikings’ trade of Ezra Cleveland to Jacksonville at the deadline cemented the team’s need for an interior offensive lineman on Day 3 of the draft.

Veteran journeymen Jonathan Owens (tied for fifth on the team in tackles) and Rudy Ford (who leads Green Bay with two picks) have stepped up, but neither they nor former first-rounder Darnell Savage (who missed five games with a calf injury) are under contract beyond this season. Seventh-round pick Anthony Johnson Jr. should contribute in Year 2. Still, GM Brian Gutekunst will seek out veterans and young talent in the draft if the Packers don’t re-sign their current starters.

On Sunday, Indianapolis beat Tennessee despite yielding 177 yards on the ground. With Taven Bryan and Grover Stewart (who just finished a six-game suspension for violating the league’s policy on performance enhancing drugs) entering free agency, the Colts should look to bolster their mediocre run defense. Adding athletic big bodies in the middle will shift offensive attention away from defensive tackle DeForest Buckner and plug leaks in the line.

Veteran interior offensive linemen Isaac Seumalo, James Daniels and Mason Cole are all under contract for 2024. However, Cole’s struggles snapping the ball and the team’s collective inability to move the line of scrimmage on the goal line in Sunday’s shocking home loss to the Cardinals point to changes up front next season.

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