2024 NFL Draft Second-Day Values: Defense

Johnny Newton

2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2024 NFL Draft Potential Busts | 2024 NFL Draft Day 3 Sleepers

In the recent weeks, there have been a lot of questions about who are my value picks for the 2024 NFL Draft. A value or sleeper prospect is basically a player who is taken after the first round and proves to be a steal. The second day of an NFL draft is where the men are separated from the boys among NFL general managers. All the players have strengths and flaws, but the top evaluators find future starters and team building blocks on Day 2. Every year, I pick my favorite second-day values. In case the player I picked goes in Round 1, I started picking two or three players in case one or two ends up being a first-round pick. If a player goes in Round 1, I should not get credit for calling them a second-day value pick if they pan out. Here is my track record, starting in 2008 going back to my time with Pewter Report.

2008: Brandon Flowers, CB, Virginia Tech
2009: Mike Wallace, WR, Ole Miss
2010: Brian Price, DT, UCLA & Brandon Spikes, ILB, Florida
2011: Justin Houston, OLB, Georgia
2012: Derek Wolfe, DL, Cincinnati
2013: Larry Warford, G, Kentucky
2014: Jeremy Hill, RB, LSU
2015: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT Texas A&M & Ronald Darby, CB, Florida State
2016: Jaylon Smith, LB Notre Dame & Sheldon Day, DT, Notre Dame
2017: Gerald Everett, TE South Alabama & Akhello Witherspoon, CB, Colorado
2018: Arden Key, DE, LSU
2019: Darnell Savage, S, Maryland & Deebo Samuel, WR, South Carolina
2020: Cam Akers, RB, Florida State & Jordyn Brooks, LB, Texas Tech
2021: Aaron Robinson, CB, Central Florida & Dayo Odeyingbo, DE, Vanderbilt
2022: Arnold Ebiketie, DE, Penn State
2023: Sam LaPorta, TE, Iowa; Jack Campbell, LB, Iowa; & Calijah Kancey, DT, Pittsburgh
2024: Ladd McConkey, WR, Georgia; Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan; & Keon Coleman, WR, Florida State

This year my top candidates are Ladd McConkey, Kris Jenkins and Keon Coleman. It would not shock me if any of those three is a first-round pick because they have a lot of fans with team sources. McConkey has the potential to be a dangerous playmaker, and Jenkins could turn into a potent presence at the point of attack. Coleman, meanwhile, could be a superb possessional receiver. To avoid picking too many names, I will narrow it down to McConkey and Jenkins as the best value picks for the 2024 NFL Draft.

Overall, this list is very strong with a few exceptions, such the pairs in 2015 and 2016. I definitely hit on Sam LaPorta last year, because he was one of the best tight ends in the NFL as a rookie. In other years, there were good selections like Brandon Flowers, Mike Wallace, Justin Houston, Derek Wolfe, Larry Warford, Jaylon Smith, Ronald Darby and Deebo Samuel. Here is a breakdown of a top prospects to end up as second-day values at each position in the 2024 NFL Draft. All the selections will be players who are likely going on the second day of the draft. If a player is a possible late first-round pick, I generally don’t include them as an option.

Defensive Linemen

Kris Jenkins, DT, Michigan

I see three excellent defensive tackle values in the 2024 NFL Draft in the form of Jenkins, Michael Hall Jr., and Johnny Newton. Jenkins has a good skill set with a ton of upside and untapped potential. In the ground game, Jenkins is a dynamite defender who possesses instincts that lead him to make tackles and cause disruption. Over the past two seasons, Jenkins was one of college football’s best defensive linemen against the run. He is extremely stout at the point of attack.

As a pass rusher, Jenkins has upside. Michigan’s scheme did not always let him pin his ears back and go after the quarterback, but when Jenkins was given the green light, he did a nice job of pressuring the quarterback. He has quickness to fire the gap and athleticism with loose hips to dodge blockers or loop around. When Jenkins gets free, he shows a burst to close and will put the quarterback into the turf with violence. Jenkins’ blood lines may feature late development judging from the NFL careers of his father Kris Jenkins and his uncle Cullen Jenkins. Kris Jenkins could be one of the steals of the 2024 NFL Draft.

Michael Hall Jr., DT, Ohio State

Hall is a true three-technique gap-shooting interior defensive tackle to line up over the outside shoulder of the guard. In the pass rush, he is quick off the ball, using his explosive first-step to fire his gap and get penetration upfield. As a run defender, Hall is at his best firing his gap and trying to cause disruption in the backfield. In the college game, he held up well as a nose tackle despite being undersized. The biggest flaw with Hall is character. Multiple team sources said the character issue is bad and significant. Without it, Hall could have gone in the first-round easily. If Hall can become a professional worker on the field and avoid trouble off the field, he could be a huge steal from the 2024 NFL Draft.

Johnny Newton, DT, Illinois

As a pass rusher, Newton is impressive. He is athletic and twitchy at the point of attack, plus has a burst to fire his gap. With developed strength and active hands, Newton will slap hands off of him and use his speed to dart past blockers. He has a real burst to close, and there is no doubt that he is a fast interior rusher. He has fluid hips to slide away from blockers and dart into openings to get after the quarterback. While Newton has a stocky build, he can really run fast for a big man. As a pro, Newton has the potential to be an excellent interior pass rusher who produces some quality sack numbers while contributing a number of hits, pressures, and hurries that could help set up his edge rushers to notch sacks as well.

In the ground game, Newton looked better in 2022 than he did in 2023. While he was worse in his final season, there were times in both years when he was absolutely destroyed by offensive linemen. They would push him out of his gap and push him around the field. However, Newton was playing with a foot injury that could have really affected his play. In the NFL, Newton could be a dangerous interior pass rusher. If he improves his run defense and plays with a steady motor, he has the potential to be a very good pro starter.

2023: Calijah Kancey
2022: Arnold Ebiketie
2021: Dayo Odeyingbo
2020: Jason Strowbridge
2019: Zach Allen
2018: Arden Key
2017: Malik McDowell
2016: Sheldon Day
2015: Michael Bennett
2014: Dominique Easley & Taylor Hart


Cedric Gray, LB, North Carolina

Gray’s instincts are what really stand out with him, and instincts are the most important necessity for any good NFL linebacker. Gray’s instincts are very good as a run defender, showing the ability to read his keys and anticipate how plays are designed. There is no doubt that in the ground game Gray is a tough defender who makes a ton of tackles. He plays downhill and physically, demonstrating the willingness to crash down quickly with straight-line speed to make tackles near the line of scrimmage. Gray has the size, strength and toughness to take on blocks while also being able to get to the perimeter. While Gray is a good run defender, he can have some issues with missed tackles that he needs to clean up for the NFL.

Gray is a mixed bag in pass coverage. On the positive side, his instincts put him in position to make some plays. He also shows serious blitzing ability and is adept at putting pressure on the quarterback. However on the down side, he is not super athletic and has some stiffness in coverage. That limits what he can do outside of zone coverage in the middle of the field. Gray could struggle if he is isolated in one-on-ones against running backs or tight ends. Hence, Gray has some limitations for how his NFL team will utilize him in pass coverage.

While Gray will likely go on Day 2 of the 2024 NFL Draft or in the mid-rounds, I think he could be a real steal in the 2024 NFL Draft who ends up turning into a quality starter.

2023: Jack Campbell
2022: Nakobe Dean & Damone Clark
2021: Jabril Cox
2020: Jordyn Brooks
2019: Mack Wilson
2018: Darius Leonard
2017: Zach Cunningham
2016: Jaylon Smith
2015: Denzel Perryman
2014: Kyle Van Noy


Kamari Lassiter, CB, Georgia

A slow 40 time alongside not being big makes Lassiter a likely second-round pick for the 2024 NFL Draft. However, he is an excellent fit as a zone-coverage cornerback. Lassiter has very good instincts and route recognition, which allow him to read receivers to cover them up quickly. Lassiter reacts in an instant, showing quickness and a burst to break hard on routes. He looks comfortable playing some press-man coverage as well, but really, he is an asset in zone. With good height, he can help defend big receivers and prevent contested catches.

The big flaw for Lassiter is a lack of top-end speed. Carrying vertical routes from fast NFL wide receivers could be a serious problem for Lassiter. He gets run by sometimes by speed receivers, and Lassiter will grab at wideouts when they are running go routes down the field. That could lead to penalties and issues with NFL teams trying to pick on him with speed receivers. His pro defensive coordinator is going to need to protect him from certain matchups, and Lassiter could struggle to fit in a defense that runs man coverage constantly. Lassiter would definitely be a better fit playing in a zone-based scheme. If Lassiter goes to the right team, I think he could be an excellent second-day value pick in the 2024 NFL Draft.

Max Melton, CB, Rutgers

Instantly, Melton is going to be an asset for his NFL team with running with speed receivers. Melton can utilize his elite speed and agility to routinely blanket wideout. He is very capable at running the route to prevent separation and possesses instant acceleration to stay with them out of breaks. His burst and explosion give him excellent recoverability skills. Many teams in the NFL can struggle with super fast wide receivers downfield and have to give cornerbacks help over the top.

The most concerning negatives about Melton (5-11, 187) are his size. He is a short and light cornerback, so he should not be matched up with big receivers that could make catches over him. That can be seen with Melton getting boxed out near the end zone on slants and crosses from big wide outs. Melton could be moved inside to being a nickel, but he also can line up on the outside when taking on a speed receiver. In the 2024 NFL Draft, Melton could be a second- or third-round pick and I think he has the talent to turn into a good pro starter early in his career.

2023: Deonte Banks
2022: Martin Emerson
2021: Aaron Robinson
2020: Damon Arnette
2019: Julian Love
2018: Isaiah Oliver
2017: Akhello Witherspoon
2016: Kendall Fuller
2015: Ronald Darby
2014: Marcus Roberson


Kamren Kinchens, S, Miami

Kinchens does not good size or timed speed, but he is a natural football player. Kinchens has fabulous instincts and that led to him being a dynamic ballhawk in college with 12 interceptions in the last two seasons. To go along with superb instincts, Kinchens is a hard hitter and willing tackler. He might be too physical for his own good and could hit his way out of the NFL, but Kinchens is a skill safety in pass coverage, can be a deep free safety, strong safety, and run defender. If Kinchens stays healthy, I think he could be a steal and turn into a terrific pro starter.

2023: Quan Martin
2022: Lewis Cine
2021: Andre Cisco
2020: Kyle Dugger
2019: Darnell Savage
2018: Terrell Edmunds
2017: Marcus Maye
2016: Keanu Neal
2015: Damarious Randall
2014: Dion Bailey

2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Offense | 2024 NFL Draft Day 2 Values: Defense
2024 NFL Draft Potential Busts | 2024 NFL Draft Day 3 Sleepers


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