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2024 Rookie IDP rankings – Yahoo Sports

The 2024 NFL Draft made history in more than one way – not only did the six quarterbacks selected in Round 1 tie the 1983 draft for the most signal-callers taken in the first 32 picks, but those six quarterbacks all went in the top 12.

However, while offensive players flew off the board early, for the top defenders of 2024 it was a matter of hurry up and wait – UCLA edge-rusher Laiatu Latu was the first defensive player drafted, taken by the Indianapolis Colts at No. 15. It was the latest in the common draft era that defender No. 1 has ever come off the board. Of the first 32 picks, a whopping 23 play on the offensive side of the ball.

However. Just because the early portion of this year’s draft was offense-heavy doesn’t mean there aren’t some young defensive players fully capable of wreaking havoc in the pros. There are wildly athletic edge-rushers. Pile-moving defensive tackles. Rangy linebackers capable of three-down roles in the pros. Versatile safeties capable of stuffing the run and holding their own in coverage. You name it, the class of 2024 has it.

With dynasty rookie drafts ramping up into high gear, here’s a look at the top-10 options at each of the three “main” IDP positions (defensive line, linebacker and defensive back) and the top-25 rookie IDPs overall. These rankings are from a dynasty perspective, but there frankly isn’t that much difference in redraft formats – looking too far ahead where defensive players are concerned is a fool’s errand.

First up, the big men up front.

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

It’s pretty rare for rookie defensive linemen to make a big IDP dent – as good as Will Anderson Jr. was for the Houston Texans last year, he barely finished inside the top-50 at his position in fantasy points a year ago. However, there are some rookie edge-rushers and interior linemen who have a relatively clear path to early playing time.

1. Dallas Turner – DE, MIN: A ridiculously athletic 6’3”, 247-pounder who eclipsed 50 total tackles with 14.5 tackles for loss and 10 sacks at Alabama last year, Turner should see significant snaps early opposite Jonathan Greenard in Minnesota and he has a genuine shot at 8-10 sacks as rookie.

2. Jared Verse – DE, LAR: Verse doesn’t have the athleticism or collegiate productivity of Turner, but the 6’4”, 254-pounder has the traits to be an early contributor for a Rams team that needs a batterymate opposite Byron Young on the edge.

3. Laiatu Latu – DE, IND: A neck injury that caused Washington to medically retire Latu doesn’t appear to have bothered the Colts. Latu piled up 13 sacks for UCLA a year ago, but snaps could be an issue early playing behind Kwity Paye and Samson Ebukam.

4. Byron Murphy II – DT, SEA: The top interior lineman prospect on most boards entering this year’s draft, Murphy is a 6’1”, 297-pounder with a quick get-off who has drawn comparisons to Ed Oliver of the Buffalo Bills.

5. Darius Robinson – DT, ARI: At 6’5” and 285 pounds, Robinson has the size and strength to play end for the Cardinals in base sets and kick inside in subpackages. With that said, his pass-rush moves are a work in progress, and he isn’t especially explosive.

6. Chop Robinson – DE, MIA: An explosive, high-motor player who ran a 4.48 40-yard dash at 254 pounds, the tools are certainly there with Robinson. But with Jaelan Phillips, Bradley Chubb and Shaquil Barrett all in Miami, early playing time is a question mark.

7. Braden Fiske – DT, LAR: The Rams double-dipped Florida State defensive linemen in this year’s draft, adding the 6’4” 292-pound Fiske in Round 2. Alongside 2023 surprise star Kobie Turner, the Rams could have a pair of disruptive young tackles wreaking havoc in short order.

8. Chris Braswell – DE, TB: With Shaquil Barrett no longer in Tampa, it’s a new age on the edge for the Buccaneers. Braswell has excellent bend and speed, but he could stand to improve his pass-rush moves and run defense.

9. Marshawn Kneeland – DE, DAL: A bull-rusher with a mean streak, Kneeland needs some refinement after playing collegiately at Western Michigan. But with Dorrance Armstrong in Washington, the Cowboys don’t have much behind Micah Parsons and an aging Demarcus Lawrence on the edge.

10. Jonah Elliss – DE, DEN: A highly productive edge-rusher at Utah who amassed 16 tackles for loss and 12 sacks a year ago, Eliss has drawn comparisons to Alex Highsmith of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Denver’s depth chart is crowded on the edge, but short on star power.

LINEBACKERS

We have seen more than a few first-year linebackers pile up fantasy points in Year 1, but that wasn’t the case a year ago – no rookie linebacker finished in the top-40 in fantasy points. Still, all it takes is the right situation and some talent for a rookie at the position to be a weekly fantasy starter from the jump.

1. Junior Colson – LB, LAC: That combination of the right situation and talent? Colson hit the jackpot this year. Not only is he an athletic and productive player, but he literally landed with the same head coach and defensive coordinator he had at Michigan, and on a team that was thin at linebacker.

2. Edgerrin Cooper – LB, GB: Cooper was widely regarded as this year’s No. 1 off-ball linebacker prospect given his speed and knack for making plays in the backfield. He and Quay Walker could be a fearsome duo inside for the Packers for years to come.

3. Payton Wilson – LB, PIT: Were it not for medical concerns, Wilson likely would have been the No. 1 player drafted at his position. He’s athletic. His instincts are excellent. And he landed in a great spot with a Steelers team that has overhauled their linebackers this offseason.

4. Trevin Wallace – LB, CAR: Wallace has the size/speed combination NFL teams covet at linebacker – the size at 244 pounds to be a force against the run, and the agility and range to hold his own in coverage. He could probably use an adjustment period, but he could also easily be thrust into a substantial role early.

5. Cedric Gray – LB, TEN: After losing Azeez Al-Shaair in free agency, the Titans are looking at trotting out Kenneth Murray Jr. and Jack Gibbens as the starters inside. It’s not that hard to imagine Gray, who racked up 266 tackles for the Tar Heels the past two years, beating out the latter ahead of Week 1.

6. Marist Liufau – LB, DAL: Liufau a smart player capable of playing multiple spots who has good size (230 pounds) and showed some chops as a pass-rusher at Notre Dame. The depth chart in Dallas behind Eric Kendricks isn’t exactly loaded, but Damone Clark isn’t going to just give away his starting spot.

7. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. – LB, PHI: This could become a Hollywood movie, with Trotter going on to excel wearing the same number as his father playing the same position for the same team. But with newcomer Devin White and promising youngster Nakobe Dean ahead of him on the depth chart, snaps could be hard to come by.

8. Tyrice Knight – LB, SEA: There’s some “sleeper” and/or taxi squad appeal with Knight -= he’s a savvy player who isn’t great in any one area but also doesn’t have any glaring deficiencies. The Seahawks went from Bobby Wagner and Jordyn Brooks in 2023 to Jerome Baker and Tyrel Dodson this year. That’s um … yeah.

9. Ty’Ron Hopper – LB, GB: Hopper was the Chad Muma of 2024. From a talent perspective, there’s a lot to like about Hopper – he’s the sort of fast, undersized linebacker more teams are turning to. But Green Bay also drafting Edgerrin Cooper buries Hopper on the Packers depth chart.

10. Jordan Magee – LB, WAS: Magee isn’t hurting for athleticism – his RAS is a whopping 9.60 out of 10. But his tackling and play recognition could both use some work, and the Commanders have a pair of entrenched starters in Bobby Wagner and Frankie Luvu – with Jamin Davis behind them.

DEFENSIVE BACKS

Unless your dynasty rookie draft is more than four rounds deep, there shouldn’t be more than a few defensive backs drafted. It’s not that the players listed here don’t have talent – there’s a real chance more than one will emerge as a weekly IDP starter. The issue is that more often than not, those breakouts aren’t who we thought – because defensive backs.

1. Tyler Nubin – S, NYG: Nubin was the first safety drafted in 2024, coming off the board at 2.15 and heading to a Giants team that just lost Xavier McKinney. Nubin has the versatility to play both close to the line of scrimmage and deep, and he has a better-than-average chance of starting out of the gate.

2. Cole Bishop – S, BUF: The Bills have undergone seismic changes this offseason, including the departures of longtime starters Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer at safety. Taylor Rapp and Mike Edwards are penciled in as the new starters, but neither is exactly an elite talent – there’s opportunity here.

3. Javon Bullard – S, GB: The third safety drafted in 2024, Bullard is an athletic and instinctive safety who was the Defensive MVP of the 2022 College Football Playoff Championship Game. There’s an excellent chance he’ll be the Week 1 starter opposite Xavier McKinney come Week 1.

4. Kamren Kinchens – S, LAR: When Kinchens is on his game, the 5’11”, 203 pounder looks like the best safety in the class – he has all the skills that NFL teams want in interchangeable safeties. If he can play with more consistency, he could work his way into the starting lineup relatively quickly.

5. Cooper DeJean – CB, PHI: This year’s top-ranked IDP cornerback, DeJean has everything fantasy managers want in the position. He’s a physical tackler, and even more importantly, with first-rounder Quinyon Mitchell also on the roster in Philly, DeJean could see quite a few targets as a rookie.

6. Tykee Smith – S, TB: A high-motor defensive back who played cornerback at West Virginia, Smith is one of the new breed of safety/nickel hybrids who have become popular in recent years. The Buccaneers are set at safety with Jordan Whitehead and Antoine Winfield, so the slot may be Smith’s best path to early playing time.

7. Caden Bullock – S, HOU: There’s a lot to like about Bullock’s potential, whether it’s his 6’2” frame or plus athleticism. He’s also not shy about run support, although he’s more of a willing tackler than a great one. The Texans have some depth at safety, so Bullock will have to impress at camp to earn snaps.

8. Malik Mustapha – S, SF: The 49ers don’t have a lot invested in the Wake Forest product – Mustapha was a late fourth-round pick. The 5’10” 209-pounder is something of a throwback player best suited to a role close to scrimmage, so he may well be insurance against a slow return from injury by Talanoa Hufanga.

9. Dadrion Taylor-Demerson – S, ARI: On one hand, the 6’0”, 197-pound Taylor-Demerson is a talented, versatile safety who can play multiple spots in multiple coverages. On the other, he’s on a Cardinals team with Budda Baker and Jalen Thompson. It’s going to take an injury or a lot of three-safety looks to get Taylor Demerson on the field.

10. Terrion Arnold – CB, DET: Arnold could wind up being a real difference-maker for a Lions team that needed help at cornerback – he was this year’s top prospect at the position on more than a few boards. He’s a player who could develop into a cornerback who is actually “too good” for IDP, but that likely won’t happen this year.

TOP 25 IDP ROOKIES OVERALL

The top-25 IDPs overall isn’t necessarily a “draft-by-numbers” list – if you’re at a point in your rookie draft where it’s time to start thinking about defensive players and you need an edge-rusher much more than a linebacker, taking Dallas Turner ahead of Junior Colson isn’t a bad idea. But it offers some idea of how the positions stack up against each other this season.

1. Junior Colson – LB, LAC

2. Edgerrin Cooper – LB, GB

3. Dallas Turner – DE, MIN

4. Jared Verse – DE, LAR

5. Payton Wilson – LB, PIT

6. Laiatu Latu – DE, IND

7. Byron Murphy II – DT, SEA

8. Trevin Wallace – LB, CAR

9. Darius Robinson – DT, ARI

10. Chop Robinson – DE, MIA

11. Tyler Nubin – S, NYG

12. Cedric Gray – LB, TEN

13. Braden Fiske – DT, LAR

14. Cole Bishop – S, BUF

15. Marist Liufau – LB, DAL

16. Chris Braswell – DE, TB

17. Jeremiah Trotter Jr. – LB, PHI

18. Marshawn Kneeland – DE, DAL

19. Javon Bullard – S, GB

20. Tyrice Knight – LB, SEA

21. Ty’Ron Hopper – LB, GB

22. Jonah Elliss – DE, DEN

23. Jordan Magee – LB, WAS

24. Kamren Kinchens – S, LAR

25. Kris Jenkins – DT, CIN

Gary Davenport (the “Godfather of IDP”) is a two-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association Football Writer of the Year. Follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.