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2024 NFL Draft Buzz: Latest league news, rumors from Monday ahead of Thursday's Round 1

A busy offseason might allow some flexibility for the Pittsburgh Steelers in this week's NFL draft.

Head coach Mike Tomlin said as much in Monday's pre-draft news conference, which indicates that Pittsburgh could have the luxury of drafting the best player available come Round 1 on Thursday night.

"We've been very active in free agency and that makes you really comfortable as we lean in on draft weekend," Tomlin said. "So that we've addressed a lot of needs and don't feel overly thirsty in any particular area. I just think that's a good feel going into the weekend."

The Steelers signed Russell Wilson and traded away former first-round pick Kenny Pickett before acquiring Justin Fields in what was one of the offseason's blockbuster deals. Pittsburgh also added a former rival in Patrick Queen to fill a long-vacated hole at the linebacker position, brought in veteran cornerback Donte Jacksonin another trade and rounded out its busy spring by signing quality skill-position depth in Cordarrelle Patterson, Van Jefferson and Quez Watkins.

A starting center seems to be the only position of need for the Steelers entering the 2024 NFL Draft, but general manager Omar Khan said Monday that there are offensive linemen on the roster who have the ability to make a full-time switch.

That leaves an intriguing spot at No. 20 overall when Pittsburgh is on the clock. But before looking into what pro days the Steelers attended to try to zero in on who they're interested in, Tomlin indicated it could be a ploy to throw teams -- or even the media -- off Pittsburgh's scent.

"Sometimes at pro days, I'm looking at people I'm not interested in because I know everyone's watching," Tomlin said. "To be bluntly honest, there's not a lot of my peers that work on the pro-day circuit the way that I work. And so I understand that my movement, what I pay attention to, who I conversate with all becomes media fodder. And so sometimes I have fun with you guys."

Here's what else we're monitoring on Monday ahead of the 2024 NFL Draft, which kicks off Thursday night at 8 p.m. ET:

  • Does Wilson trade impact Broncos' draft? The Broncos acquired former first-rounder Zach Wilson from the Jets on Monday, and have been a team expected to have designs on taking a quarterback in the 2024 first round, where they currently hold the No. 12 overall pick. Does the Wilson acquisition change anything come draft day? NFL Network Insider Tom Pelissero reported Monday that the trade isn't expected to have a substantive impact on what Denver does in the draft. Furthermore, Pelissero has a sense that the Broncos are more likely to trade down from No. 12 than trade up.
  • Who will first defender drafted be? With a handful of quarterback and wide receiver prospects expected to rule the top half of Round 1, who will be the first defensive player selected in the 2024 NFL Draft? NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport lists several names who could be the answer to that intriguing question, though it's no shock it includes two of the most highly sought-after positions on the defensive side of the ball: pass rusher and cornerback. Pass-rushing prospect Dallas Turner leads his tally, and Rapoport adds that the Atlanta Falcons (No. 8) and Chicago Bears (No. 9) could potentially make the Alabama product a top-10 pick. Texas defensive tackle Byron Murphy II, who's been receiving comparisons to Aaron Donald, could also crack the top 10, according to Rapoport, while Toledo CB Quinyon Mitchell, UCLA edge Laiatu Latu, Florida State edge Jared Verse and Alabama CB Terrion Arnold also remain as candidates for being the first defender taken come Thursday night.
  • Packers happy to have more at-bats. Green Bay and general manager Brian Gutekunst currently have 11 draft picks -- which is tied for the most in the league. Gutekunst would be happy to add even more. "With more at-bats, you have more chances for hits," Gutekunst said Monday, via the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Ryan Wood. "There's never enough. I don't ever subscribe to the thought process, 'Hey, we've got a pretty good team. These guys might not have a chance to make the team.' I've talked a lot about competition in every room and how much that accelerates the growth of your football team. I think that's the best way for your team to move forward." The Packers had the league's youngest roster last season, made a late regular-season push and then upset the Dallas Cowboys on Super Wild Card Weekend. With a youth movement underway in Wisconsin, Gutekunst is looking to stay young in the hopes of competition in every room. "We have 11 [picks] right now," Gutekunst said. "I'd love to end up with 13, 14 or more. I would never shy away from that."
  • Raiders have three plans for pick No. 13. Ex-Chargers general manager and current Raiders GM Tom Telesco said Monday there's not much different to the 2024 draft process than others. There's been trade talk about Las Vegas' No. 13 overall pick and it's led to the Raiders preparing to go every which way pending on how things play out Thursday on Night 1 from Detroit. "News flash, GM says he's open to trading up, moving back, picking at a spot," Telesco joked Monday. "Everybody always says the same thing. We have a plan right now to go up if we have to and be aggressive with it, we got a plan to stick and pick obviously. And we got a plan to go back if it's within in a certain range. It's been normal this year just like other years. There's been conversations with other teams, but it's probably more in general than specific. Really wouldn't get more specific until later in the process — Tuesday, Wednesday, even Thursday -- and even sometimes when you're on the clock. But it's been the same amount of work that goes into that." In other words, the Raiders are open to trade (or not) if the right offer comes into play.

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