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Now that the first few waves of NFL free agency are complete, it's time for teams to weigh whether it makes sense to sign a lower-level free agent in late March or simply wait until the 2024 NFL Draft to find players at positions of need. 

Clubs understand the quality of each position group in the draft, and it likely sways them towards or away from specific ideas in free agency. 

Let's do a similar exercise. Here, I'll provide a ranking of the best position groups in the 2024 draft and how it blends with what has transpired, and could still occur, in free agency. (Note: I'm using Pete Prisco's top 100 free agents to quantify high-level free agents at each position.)

12. Tight end

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 4

Dalton Schultz re-signed with the TexansGerald Everett went from the Chargers to the Falcons. And Noah Fant (Seahawks) and Hunter Henry (Patriots) stayed home in free agency. And this draft class isn't one to buoy a down tight-end free-agent class.

There's Brock Bowers, then not much else. Even the most highly touted recruit after Bowers, Ja'Tavion Sanders, didn't quite do it for me on film and had a disappointing combine effort, running the third-slowest 40-yard dash at the position at 4.69 seconds. 

A few names to earmark for Day 3 with some upside: Florida State's Jaheim Bell, who gives me Chig Okonkwo vibes, and Penn State's Theo Johnson, who was the largest and most athletic tight end in Indianapolis. Beyond that, we're looking at those with TE3 upside at the very best. 

11. Linebacker

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 13

Free agency is the place to get quality linebackers this year, as a relatively strong linebacker class on the veteran market is counteracted by a very weak off-ball linebacker group in the draft. 

There's NC State's Payton Wilson, who was incredibly athletic at the combine, yet has some of the shortest arms I've seen at the linebacker position and a lengthy injury history. Also, Texas A&M's Edgerrin Cooper proved to be a plus athlete and has clean film in the SEC. Beyond that, teams will be hoping to land a gem late on Day 2 -- like with Notre Dame's Marist Liufau or Washington's Ede Ulofoshio -- but most of this class will be selected well into the third day of the draft. Just not enough specialists in coverage and too many missed tackles. 

10. Defensive tackle

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 10 

From Chris Jones all the way down to Javon Kinlaw, we witnessed double-digit quality defensive tackles get signed in free agency. It's become a position that's grown in importance over the years because of the inherent value of interior pressure and the fact that there's simply a deficit of impactful defensive tackles entering the league via the NFL Draft

The 2019 class featuring Quinnen Williams, Dexter Lawrence, Christian Wilkins, and Ed Oliver in Round 1 was the last transcendent defensive tackle group we've gotten from the collegiate ranks, and the 2024 collection is more like the last few years than that Pro Bowl-filled contingent from five years ago. 

Texas' Byron Murphy II and Illinois' Johnny Newton are borderline special up-the-field rushers with serious athletic gifts and pass-rush moves. Murphy's teammate, T'Vondre Sweat, is a Mack truck at 360-plus pounds who finally demonstrated the ability to collapse the pocket on passing downs in 2023. Beyond that, there's Clemson's Ruke Orhorhoro and not much else on the defensive interior.

For more draft coverage, you can hear in-depth analysis twice a week on "With the First Pick" -- our year-round NFL Draft podcast with NFL Draft analyst Ryan Wilson and former Vikings general manager Rick Spielman. You can find "With the First Pick" wherever you get your podcasts: Apple PodcastsSpotifyYouTube, etc. Listen to the latest episode below!

9. Guard

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 8

To date, only eight guards have signed new deals in free agency, yet this class broke the bank, headlined by Robert Hunt's five-year, $100 million deal with the Panthers. Meanwhile, Jonah Jackson went from Detroit to Los Angeles with the Rams and inked a three-year, $51 million deal. Clubs now understand how vital it is to have sturdy guards to protect against the rise of plus inside pass rushers in today's game. 

This guard draft class on the surface is brutal. In fact, a few weeks ago on X/Twitter, I tweeted it was maybe the worst group in the entire draft. Then, an astute follower mentioned that he liked the guard group ... if you count collegiate tackles who are likely to kick to guard in the NFL. I immediately stood corrected. Who are those prospects? Duke's Graham Barton, Washington's Troy Fautanu, Arizona's Jordan Morgan, and Yale's Kiran Amegadjie stand out. As for college guards who can stay there in the pros? UConn's Christian Haynes and Kansas State's Cooper Beebe are solid options but could go as late as Round 4 or Round 5. 

8. Edge rusher

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 12

Even with 12 edge rushers signed in free agency from our top 100, there are still some sizable names on the market like Chase Young and Jadeveon Clowney. Of course, this is a marquee position, and money will always be lucrative for outside pass rushers. For as much as I initially liked this draft class, it lacks a quality second and third tier. We'll see Alabama's Dallas Turner, Florida State's Jared Verse, and likely Penn State's Chop Robinson -- along with UCLA's Laiatu Latu -- in the first round. And they all deserve to be first rounders. 

After that? There's slim-pickings on Day 2, although two smaller but explosive and refined perimeter rushers I like are UCLA's Gabriel Murphy and Colorado's Mo Kamara. Actually, Alabama's other defensive end, Chris Braswell, also brings it with tentacles for arms and surprising power. There are usually four or five more mid-to-late round rushers I'm in on. Not this year. 

7. Cornerback

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 6

Not quite an incredible deep free-agent class at cornerback, although the likes of Stephon Gilmore and the steady Steven Nelson are still ready to be signed. 

I view this cornerback class similarly to the edge group, which explains them back-to-back in these rankings. But the defensive backs earned the higher ranking because of the depth of the nickel group featuring Florida State's Jarrian Jones, Michigan's Mike Sainristil and Rutgers' Max Melton. They're all mid-round types who can start in Year 1 and be at the forefront of the next wave of pesky and valuable slot corners in the NFL. 

6. Running back 

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 7

This is a good running back class! Don't let anyone tell you differently. And what an active free-agent period for the running backs. Saquon Barkley in Philadelphia? Aaron Jones with the Vikings? Josh Jacobs with the Packers? What world are we living in? 

Back to the draft: just because there isn't a Bijan Robinson, Christian McCaffrey, or yes, a Barkley, doesn't mean it's a bummer of a class. In fact, I feel like Florida State's Trey Benson absolutely deserves to be viewed in the same vein as Breece Hall a few years ago, who ironically, had no business going in the second round relative to others who were picked in the first over the past five to seven years. 

Beyond Benson, who's big, fast, and ultra elusive, there's Texas' Jonathon Brooks, a similar player; USC's Marshawn Lloyd, a compact rocket of a back; Notre Dame's Audric Estime, who's A.J. Dillon-ish; the bouncy Blake Corum from Michigan; and I even can still get on-board with Oregon's Bucky Irving after a disappointing combine. If you're team didn't sign a free-agent running back... good! Better to spend a draft pick on a Day 3 type than give a veteran with plenty of wear and tear on his body a sizable deal.

5. Center

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 1

When I think back to awesome center classes in the draft, the 2009 group jumps into my head. Alex Mack, Eric Wood, and Max Unger were all top-50 selections and went on to have Pro Bowl-caliber careers at the pivot. 

We probably don't get three centers in the top 50, but two is a possibility with Jackson Powers-Johnson from Oregon, who's impossibly mobile despite boasting a power guard frame, and Zach Frazier from West Virginia, who played roughly a million snaps in college and is that low-center-of-gravity people-mover on the inside. 

Then later, there's phenomenal depth at this position with the strong battler types like Penn State's Hunter Nourzad, Arkansas Beaux Limmer, Georgia's Sedrick Van Pran and Louisville's Bryan Hudson. The first-step speed and agile movers like NC State's Dylan McMahon and Wisconsin's Tanor Bortolini, both of whom had ridiculous combine workouts, round out a fun and deep center class. 

4. Safety

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 6

Only a half dozen safeties have signed but financially, the depression of the safety market in free agency hasn't been quite as stark as it was a year ago. 

While teams and player agents now play the waiting game, what's good for the clubs -- and maybe not so much for the likes of Kamren Curl, Jordan Fuller and Julian Blackmon, who are sitting idly by hoping to hear of an offer of a second NFL contract -- it's an unusually deep safety class. 

We don't have a Kyle Hamilton or Earl Thomas type who's a lock for the first round. But Rounds 2 through 4 should be littered with instant starters who can do it all. Minnesota's Tyler Nubin is older but possesses the highest floor as a free safety, while USC's Calen Bullock has insane fluidity, range and ball skills. Washington State's Jaden Hicks and fellow Pac-12er Kitan Oladapo from Oregon State are the larger, strong safety/linebacker hybrids who have the athleticism to hold up in coverage. Don't sleep on Javon Bullard from Georgia -- not that you would, he's from Georgia! -- and Texas Tech has two hyper-explosive safeties in this class in Dadrion Taylor-Demerson and Tyler Owens, the latter of whom had a 12-foot-2 broad jump, the second-longest in combine history. 

3. Quarterback

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 3

We've seen plenty of veteran quarterback movement already this offseason, but Justin Fields is still awkwardly on the Bears and Ryan Tannehill has yet to find a new home. 

And this quarterback draft class is all the rage, particularly at the top. I would not be surprised if we see four quarterbacks picked in the top 10, (yes, including Michigan's J.J. McCarthy, because of his traits and years of tutelage under Jim Harbaugh at Michigan.) Bo Nix and Michael Penix Jr. represent a rock-solid perceived "second tier," and one or potentially both could land in the first round. They've gotten Round 1 hype since the season ended; it just hasn't been as strong as they others. 

Beyond that, there's not much Day 2 and Day 3 depth, although South Carolina's Spencer Rattler is clearly my favorite. Oh, and Tennessee' Joe Milton can throw a ball a country mile.

2. Offensive tackle

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 1

Not much movement for a thin offensive tackle class in free agency, and it's mostly because that position is so critical, teams rarely let steady players at that position hit the market. And for franchises still in need at the position, tremendous news: this is a stellar offensive tackle class, the best since the 2020 group that provided the NFL with Tristan Wirfs, Andrew Thomas and Jedrick Wills in the first round. And this group is way deeper. 

We'll get Oregon's State's Taliese Fuaga, Notre Dame's Joe Alt, Penn State's Olu Fashanu, and likely Alabama's JC Latham and Oklahoma's Tyler Guyton in Round 1. But we're just getting started with that fivesome. Georgia's Amarius Mims will be one of the largest and most athletically gifted tackles in the NFL in Year 1, Washington's Roger Rosengarten plays with a fun power and mobility blend, Texas' Christian Jones was so steady in Austin and has serious length, even Louisiana's Nathan Thomas is a masher on the outside, and BYU's Kingsley Suamataia has All-Pro upside given his girth and lightness in his feet. I like Maryland's Delmar Glaze as an offensive tackle who'll outplay his draft position. I could go on and on. This offensive tackle group rocks. 

1. Wide receiver

Signees in our top 100 free agents: 8

Constant wide receiver chatter and pass-catchers signing big contracts, all of which has become par for the course in today's NFL. To me, it's the second-most important position in football. You need dangerous play-makers in the passing game. Now, having written that, there certainly is a surplus of these vital receivers in basically every draft now, and the 2024 class is no different. 

You know the names -- we'll see probably five or six go in the first round, and no one will bat an eye. And as we've come to realize, the sweet spot for picking quality receivers might be in the second and third round. This class features the likes of Troy Franklin from Oregon, UCF's Javon Baker, and dynamic slot options Malik Washington from Virginia and Ainias Smith from Texas A&M. Xavier Legette was a late breakout type at South Carolina but has freaky attributes, Ricky Pearsall proved to boast elite explosiveness at the combine and is a sharp route runner. And we can't forget about the other Washington receivers in Ja'Lynn Polk and Jalen McMillan. You need a receiver? Pick one, or two, in this class.