April 19, 2024

2024 NFL Draft: How Browns, Texans and Panthers can find success without having a first-round pick


There are three teams without a first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft. Each of those teams initially had the same draft capital and then decided to use it in a variety of ways. The strategies that they employed to reach this point are no different than the strategies that they will continue executing over the next few weeks. 

Here is a look at those three teams and how each can still find success later in April’s draft:

Cleveland has five picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, and just two of those fall in the top 100 overall. The Browns have operated the past few years as if they are trying to win the Super Bowl. The team’s aggressiveness continued this offseason when it traded for Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy. They can continue feeding into that strategy by identifying prospects who will help them win now; that could could mean starting-caliber players or functional depth at key positions, such as the offensive line or cornerback. 

The Panthers have needs on both sides of the ball and it is unlikely that all of those holes can be patched in one offseason. The worst outcome for the upcoming season would be to fall short in surrounding second-year quarterback Bryce Young with the talent that will give him a fighting chance to prove himself as a viable starter in the NFL. Young may or may not be the franchise quarterback in Carolina, but do not leave anyone wondering if more could have been done to foster his development. 

It is clear that plan has already been put in motion. The Panthers signed offensive guards Damien Lewis and Robert Hunt to lucrative contracts in free agency before trading cornerback Donte Jackson for Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson. The team also traded away coveted pass rusher Brian Burns in exchange for additional draft resources. Carolina has funneled assets previously allocated for defense into the offense. One can not expect the Panthers defense to play at a high level considering the moves that have been made this offseason, but, at the very least, the offense should be competitive if Young bounces back from a disappointing rookie campaign. 

The Texans have eight picks in the 2024 NFL Draft, including three of the top 100 overall; their first selection is not until No. 42 overall.

Houston has the most comfortable quarterback situation of the three teams discussed. Cleveland may be ‘all-in’ in the way that it operates, but there is uncertainty at the quarterback position. C.J. Stroud was one of the league’s best quarterbacks as a rookie and the Texans have the luxury of building a roster around his reasonable contract before it balloons. 

The Texans do not need to over-commit on offense in the way that Carolina should. Stroud was able to uplift that unit, even as they dealt with injuries across the board. It is business as usual as they work to build a roster capable of achieving sustainable success. They can attack defensive tackle, cornerback and other positions of need in an attempt to identify additional pillars like edge rusher Will Anderson Jr., wide receiver Nico Collins, cornerback Derek Stingley Jr., Stroud and more.   

The 2024 NFL Draft will take place from April 25-27 in Detroit. More draft coverage can be found at CBSSports.com, including the weekly updated draft ordermock drafts and a regularly available look at the eligible prospects





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