2024 NFL Draft: What we learned about Adam Peters, Eliot Wolf and other

The 2024 NFL Draft served as an introduction to multiple first-year general managers. While it is a small sample size, we can look at this year’s selections, as well as their background to inform about future plans.

Chargers: General manager Joe Hortiz

Background

  • Auburn graduate assistant – coach (1995-1997)
  • Ravens personnel assistant (1998-2000)
  • Ravens scout (2001-2008)
  • Ravens director of college scouting (2009-2018)
  • Ravens director of player personnel (2019-2023)

First draft class

  • OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame (Round 1, No. 5 overall)
  • WR Ladd McConkey, Georgia (Round 2, No. 34 overall)
  • LB Junior Colson, Michigan (Round 3, No. 69 overall)
  • DT Justin Eboigbe, Alabama (Round 4, No. 105 overall)
  • CB Tarheeb Still, Maryland (Round 5, No. 137 overall)
  • CB Cam Hart, Notre Dame (Round 5, No. 140 overall)
  • RB Kimani Vidal, Troy (Round 6, No. 181 overall)
  • WR Brenden Rice, USC (Round 7, No. 225 overall)
  • WR Cornelius Johnson, Michigan (Round 7, No. 253 overall)

Los Angeles used six of their nine selections on premium positions, such as wide receiver, quarterback, offensive tackle, cornerback and edge rusher. Rice was the only prospect reported to come to town on a pre-draft visit. Fans should not put a lot of stock in who head coach Jim Harbaugh brings in for one of those visits considering he hosted multiple Wolverines. There could not be anything more for the coach to glean from his former players on that trip. Two Michigan prospects were a part of the inaugural draft class.

The Chargers draft class had an 8.41 average RAS (Relative Athletic Score), which would rank among the Top-10 averaged since 2019. The relative athletic score does not measure the caliber of player but rather their competency in athletic tests, such as the vertical jump, 40-yard dash, 3-cone drill and more. Former general manager Tom Telesco, now in the same role with the Raiders, ranked No. 19 in the metric since 2019. Hortiz comes from an organization that was below average in annual RAS, but drafts a high percentage of Power-5 players. The running joke is that they had a quota of one Alabama prospect per year to fill under the guidance of former general manager Ozzie Newsome. Hortiz made his former employer proud with the selection of Eboigbe.

The Ravens historically wheel and deal to pick up additional draft picks over the course of the draft. Los Angeles traded up once. After the draft, Baltimore waits until free agent signings no longer count in the compensatory formula before they fill remaining holes on the roster. Harbaugh has his hands on the controls based on this offseason’s transactions: moving on from beloved veteran players and throwing resources in the trenches to become a more physical team.

Commanders: General manager Adam Peters

Background

  • Patriots scout (2003-2008)
  • Broncos scout (2009-2013)
  • Broncos assistant director of college scouting (2014-2015)
  • Broncos director of college scouting (2016)
  • 49ers vice president of player personnel (2017-2020)
  • 49ers assistant general manager (2021-2023)

First draft class

  • QB Jayden Daniels, LSU (Round 1, No. 2 overall)
  • DT Johnny Newton, Illinois (Round 2, No. 36 overall)
  • CB Mike Sainristil, Michigan (Round 2, No. 50 overall)
  • TE Ben Sinnott, Kansas State (Round 2, No. 53 overall)
  • OT Brandon Coleman, TCU (Round 3, No. 67 overall)
  • WR Luke McCaffrey, Rice (Round 3, No. 100 overall)
  • LB Jordan Magee, Temple (Round 5, No. 139 overall)
  • S Dominique Hampton, Washington (Round 5, No. 161 overall)
  • EDGE Javontae Jean-Baptiste, Notre Dame (Round 7, No. 222 overall)

Peters has been credited with aiding in the construction of Super Bowl contending rosters in San Francisco and New England. Washington brought three of their draft choices, Daniels, Coleman and Jean-Baptiste, in for pre-draft visits. Five of their nine selections play premium positions. The Commanders traded back once.

49ers general manager John Lynch targets good, productive football players. He is less concerned about age, RAS and premium positions than most other general managers. Lynch ranks below average in all three aspects. Peters is not following that model to a ‘T,’ however. In his first opportunity as drafting manager, his selections had an average RAS of 9.42, which, if maintained, would be the highest average going back to 2019. Listening to his his post-Day 2 press conference, he shared the organization’s belief to add accountable players with Captaincy in their background.

It is also clear that decisions are being made with an eye towards the future. A year ago at the trade deadline, they traded edge rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Young. The selection of Newton suggests that veteran interior defenders DaRon Payne and Jonathan Allen could be available for the right price down the road.

After Day 2 of the NFL Draft, Peters had each of his scouts stand on the table, so to speak, for one player they felt would be the right fit for Washington. They call it the ‘Commander Caucus.’

Panthers: General manager/president of football operations Dan Morgan

Background

  • Seahawks scout (2010)
  • Seahawks assistant director of pro personnel (2011-2024)
  • Seahawks director of pro personnel (2015-2017)
  • Bills director of player personnel (2018-2020)
  • Panthers assistant general manager (2021-2023)

First draft class

  • WR Xavier Legette (Round 1, No. 32 overall)
  • RB Jonathon Brooks, Texas (Round 2, No. 46 overall)
  • LB Trevin Wallace, Kentucky (Round 3, No. 72 overall)
  • TE Ja’Tavion Sanders, Texas (Round 4, No. 101 overall)
  • CB Chau Smith-Wade, Washington State (Round 5, No. 157 overall)
  • DT Jaden Crumedy, Mississippi State (Round 6, No. 200 overall)
  • LB Michael Barrett, Michigan (Round 7, No. 240 overall)

Carolina fired former general manager Scott Fitterer only to hire his deputy, Morgan, who also worked alongside new head coach Dave Canales in Seattle. The Panthers used three of their pre-draft visits on prospects they drafted: Legette, Brooks and Sanders. The 7.27 average RAS score would be considered below average.

The draft was a continuation of the offseason plan to surround second-year quarterback Bryce Young with more talent. They traded cornerback Donte Jackson in exchange for wide receiver Diontae Johnson, then signed free agent offensive guards Damien Lewis and Robert Hunt to lucrative contracts. Three of the first four draft selections were skill positions.

They used just two of their draft picks on premium positions. The first draft class is probably not a good representation of what fans should expect moving forward considering the concerted effort to support Young.

Carolina traded four times throughout the draft: twice up and twice back.

Seahawks general manager John Schneider has been middle of the road in regards to drafting age, RAS and premium positions. He constructs his board based on skill set and a player’s ability to help his team, then sticks to the board during the draft regardless of how closely it mirrors public consensus.

Patriots: Executive vice president of player personnel Eliot Wolf

Background

  • Packers pro personnel assistant (2004-2008)
  • Packers assistant director of pro personnel (2008-2011)
  • Packers assistant direct of player personnel (2011-2012)
  • Packers director of pro personnel (2012-2015)
  • Packers director of player personnel (2015-2016)
  • Packers director of football operations (2016-2017)
  • Browns assistant general manager (2018-2019)
  • Patriots consultant (2020-2021)
  • Patriots director of scouting (2022-2023)

First draft class

  • QB Drake Maye, North Carolina (Round 1, No. 3 overall)
  • WR Ja’Lynn Polk, Washington (Round 2, No. 37 overall)
  • OT Caedan Wallace, Penn State (Round 3, No. 68 overall)
  • OG Layden Robinson, Texas A&M (Round 4, No. 103 overall)
  • WR Javon Baker, UCF (Round 4, No. 110 overall)
  • CB Marcellas Dial, South Carolina (Round 6, No. 180 overall)
  • QB Joe Milton III, Tennessee (Round 6, No. 193 overall)
  • TE Jaheim Bell, Florida State (Round 7, No. 231 overall)

Wolf does not have the title of general manager but he is high up in that organization’s personnel department. The franchise brought in five of their eight draft choices on pre-draft visits, including both quarterbacks. Every single one of their selections came from one of the Power 5 conferences.

New England’s average RAS score this year was 8.12, which is above average. Wolf spent 14 years with the Packers. Green Bay has a tendency to double down at positions of need. They might take two players at a position of need to increase the odds that at least one pans out. Wide receiver is the only position in which that was applicable for the Patriots’ draft.

The Patriots traded back once.

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