2024 NFL Draft First Round Review: The Hits, the Records, and the Atlanta Falcons Did What?

By Scott Kacsmar

We knew the 2024 NFL draft was heavily slanted towards offensive prospects. But little did we expect such a record-setting Thursday night after a first round that was as crazy as any in NFL history. We have the Atlanta Falcons to thank for this as their No. 8 pick used on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. was a jaw-dropping move that seemed to shellshock a few other teams and blow up draft boards everywhere.

Here are some of the records from the 2024 NFL draft’s first round:

  • For the first time ever, six quarterbacks were drafted in the top 12 picks.
  • We said wide receivers were the cream of the crop this year, and seven wide receivers were drafted in the first round, which had not happened since 2004.
  • A total of 23 offensive players were selected in the first round, shattering the previous record of 19 (1968, 2004, and 2019).
  • The first 14 drafted players were all offensive players, doubling the previous high (seven) set in 2021 to start a draft with offensive players.
  • According to NFL Network, this is the first time in the history of the NFL draft where 14 consecutive picks were made on one side of the ball (offense) in any round in any draft.

That last fact is insane, and it’s all thanks to the Falcons going off script with the No. 8 pick when most expected that to be Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner as the first defensive player. But the Falcons decided to turn the draft on its head with the selection of Penix.

Let’s review the entire first round of the 2024 NFL draft, broken down by positions, after a historic round that is sure to spark debate for years to come.

Quarterback: The Night the League Got Drunk Off a Six Pack

While we did not get a draft to start QB-QB-QB-QB for the first time ever, we did get a record five quarterbacks in the top 10 and a record six quarterbacks in the top 12 picks. One stands out as a shock more than the others, and it may have necessitated the last two picks.

At the rate things were going, it was just a shock that the Raiders didn’t try drafting Spencer Rattler with the No. 13 pick.

1. Chicago Bears – QB Caleb Williams, USC

The only lock in the entire draft, the Bears still took their sweet old time to announce that they were taking Caleb Williams No. 1 overall. It has always been the right move, and he is about to enter a situation that is quite arguably the best for any No. 1 overall pick at quarterback in NFL history.

But we have a few months to quantify that. Right now, let’s just celebrate that the Chicago Bears have drafted an exciting quarterback prospect who isn’t Rex Grossman, or an apathetic version of Rex Grossman (Jay Cutler), or a faster version of Rex Grossman (Mitch Trubisky).

They just might have their best quarterback since Sid Luckman, who played before televisions had color.

2. Washington Commanders – QB Jayden Daniels, LSU

While some wanted Drake Maye, the Commanders ditched the North Carolina pipeline for quarterbacks in favor of LSU and the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. I still think Jayden Daniels is a risky pick since 2023 was such an outlier in his collegiate stats as a 5-year starter, but we’ll see if he can inject some dual-threat ability and life into the joyless suck that has been the Washington football franchise over the last 30 years.

Also, the addition of Williams and Daniels to the NFC is a good sight as that conference badly needs some new blood at quarterback to try to keep up with the AFC at the most important position.

They just may have overdone it this year, but more on that in a few picks.

3. New England Patriots – QB Drake Maye, North Carolina

Well, my mock draft blew up here as the Patriots did in fact take Drake Maye instead of Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy. In fact, my mock only got 5-of-32 players correct by both draft number and matching players to teams.

But Maye does make sense for the Patriots. They need someone who can create things on their own since the receiving corps is still not up to snuff. It could be a rough start for Maye, but if they stick with him and build up the roster again, there’s some potential here.

8. Atlanta Falcons – QB Michael Penix Jr., Washington

Like a fella once said, ain’t that a kick in the Penix.

Without hijacking this review to talk about the Falcons, let’s just put it out there. This selection of Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 was the worst pick of the night and might be one of the worst picks in NFL draft history.

We can start with it being a reach as most had Penix going much later. Maybe not in the second round, but certainly at No. 23 (Minnesota) or later. He was pegged to go after J.J. McCarthy for a lot of people as well.

But quarterback is the most important position, so we can overlook a reach if you truly see a franchise player. You get him if you can get him.

But Atlanta, why are you even looking at QB4 this high in the draft when you just signed Kirk Cousins to the richest contract in the NFL this year at $180 million over the next four years?

That is the main reason this pick makes no sense. If they never signed Cousins and were still stuck with Desmond Ridder, then okay, make a bold move for Penix. People will get over it, especially if he plays well.

But they didn’t do that. They made a splashy move at quarterback by bringing in a 36-year-old passer coming off a torn Achilles. That’s their starter.

One of the biggest values in drafting a quarterback high in the first round is to get him on a low-salary contract for a few years before you extend him if he deserves it. This is how we see teams afford other great players as the quarterback is making peanuts relative to the veterans in the league. We see the Texans doing this right now with C.J. Stroud, which allows them to bring in players like Danielle Hunter and Stefon Diggs.

But the Falcons aren’t going to get to enjoy that. They are paying Cousins a lot while Penix is going to sit on the bench. Cousins’ cap hit jumps to $40 million in 2025 and then $57.5 million in 2026. If they get out of the contract after two years, then it likely was a total waste to sign him in the first place.

By signing Cousins, the Falcons should have taken themselves out of the quarterback market at No. 8. Cousins is not a Hall of Fame-caliber quarterback. He needs all the help he can get to win a Super Bowl. But instead of helping him with the No. 8 pick, they drafted his eventual replacement and put that added pressure on him.

With the No. 8 pick, the Falcons had their choice of any defender they wanted in this draft, including any pass rusher or corner. They could have drafted Rome Odunze to be their WR2 behind Drake London. They could have drafted Brock Bowers to create a unique tight end-driven offense with Kyle Pitts. They could have drafted an offensive tackle who might last there for the next 10 years like Jake Matthews has.

All of those things were right there on the table, and Atlanta made one of the most asinine picks ever instead. In listening to general manager Terry Fontenot defend the Penix pick, it looks even worse:

Quarterbacks do not sit for four or five years and become great. It just doesn’t happen. Then what makes this even worse is Penix’s age. He’ll be 24 on May 8. That means even if he takes over from Cousins in 2026, he’ll be 26 years old. That’s potentially two years wasted of a cost-controlled quarterback who isn’t getting any real-game reps of significance.

So, what is the actual upside of this pick? You basically have to root for Cousins to fail this year so that Penix can take over sooner rather than later so that his rookie contract recoups as much of its value as possible.

Then to not even tip off Cousins that you’re doing this until you were on the clock on draft night? That’s a cold move and starting the relationship off on the wrong foot with Cousins, coach Raheem Morris, and Penix.

Can we find another reason to make this pick look worse? Yes, we can. The Falcons are likely going to lose a draft pick for tampering when they were in the process of courting Cousins this offseason.

If Penix is a stud in Atlanta, then we’ll have a laugh about this someday. But that would be the bare minimum of what he has to do for this pick to ever be justified by the Falcons.

Right now, it shows zero understanding of how today’s NFL works and this is the headline of an offseason for a team that thought it was too good to hire Bill Belichick as the next head coach.

10. Minnesota Vikings (via Jets) – QB J.J. McCarthy, Michigan

The Vikings were likely shocked over the Penix move. To be safe and make sure no one jumped ahead of them at No. 11, they moved up a spot with the Jets to take J.J. McCarthy with the No. 10 pick.

McCarthy is a polarizing draft pick, and Minnesota coach Kevin O’Connell certainly loves to throw the ball in his offense way more than the Wolverines did in college. But he reportedly loves the kid as a prospect and thinks it can work.

However, this graphic from NFL Network to describe McCarthy definitely gives some pause on how good of a move this was.

J.J. McCarthy attributes.

Alex Smith? So, a caretaker who needs a strong running game and defense to support him? It’s not exactly the most promising pick here, but at least he’ll have Justin Jefferson, Jordan Addison, and T.J. Hockenson to throw to.

12. Denver Broncos – QB Bo Nix, Oregon

In the last week, the odds on Bo Nix going in the first round were not great. But this is another pick where you have to wonder if Denver ever pulls the trigger at No. 12 if they didn’t have Penix on the brain after what Atlanta did at No. 8.

Having said that, Nix is probably the right prospect in this draft for Sean Payton to connect with. Nix completed 77.4% of his passes at Oregon last year, setting a single-season NCAA record. He is a coachable system quarterback whom Payton can mold from Day 1, which is something he hasn’t been able to do with his other quarterbacks in the NFL.

Don’t love the pick, especially at No. 12 when it should have been later, but the Broncos could not go into the season with Zach Wilson and Jarrett Stidham as their top quarterbacks. If Payton is supposed to be one of the best head coaches of his era, let’s see him prove it with a quarterback from scratch.

Wide Receivers: The Seven Samurai We’ll Debate for Years

Everyone knew this was a great wide receiver class, but any time you get seven wideouts in the first round, where they land is going to have a huge impact on whether their career works out or not. As history shows, the best receiver in this group may not be the first one taken, and multiple receivers will disappoint. It will be fun to see this group develop over time.

4. Arizona Cardinals – WR Marvin Harrison Jr., Ohio State

The Cardinals waited for any calls for a trade, but they decided to stay put and take the top-rated wide receiver on the board in Marvin Harrison Jr. Can’t argue with this pick at all. Harrison has pure NFL genes from his father, he has a bigger catch radius than his dad, and he is a smooth route runner with great hands and so consistent at everything he does.

The Cardinals desperately needed a wide receiver after letting go of Marquise Brown and Rondale Moore. They can market Harrison Jr. as their new Larry Fitzgerald, a face of the franchise star.

Great pick.

6. New York Giants – WR Malik Nabers, LSU

The Giants did not take the bait on J.J. McCarthy and stayed at No. 6. They took the player most expected they would in LSU wideout Malik Nabers, who has a chance to step in immediately and be their No. 1 weapon.

Brian Daboll’s offense flourished in Buffalo once he got Stefon Diggs from Minnesota. He still may not have the quarterback to pull this off in New York, but Nabers should be the team’s best No. 1 receiver since Odell Beckham Jr.

9. Chicago Bears – WR Rome Odunze, Washington

Props to the Bears for breaking tradition and not drafting a defender or lineman here to play more “smash-mouth football.” They gave their new quarterback, Caleb Williams, a heck of a target for hopefully years to come in Rome Odunze.

This basically gives Chicago three different No. 1 receiver archetypes for the 2024 season with D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen already there as proven veterans. But Allen is a short-term rental from the Chargers. Odunze can develop along with Williams in a new-look NFC North that expects to feature more offense with the high-powered Lions, Jordan Love leading the Packers, and the Vikings just added J.J. McCarthy.

For the first time in a long time, people are going to want to watch the Chicago Bears play offense this season.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars (via Minnesota) – WR Brian Thomas Jr., LSU

The Jaguars decided to trade down from No. 17 with Minnesota. With the No. 23 pick, they got solid value in LSU’s Brian Thoams Jr., who was widely considered the fourth-best wideout in this class.

Already adding Gabe Davis this offseason, the Jaguars have some big receivers who can get deep for Trevor Lawrence to throw to. It’s hard to say if that is really a strength in his game or not, but he’ll have the weapons to try it out this year.

The Calvin Ridley trade did not work out well for the Jaguars, who took a chance on a player who was losing a whole year to a suspension for gambling. They’ll try a more traditional route this time with Thomas in the draft.

28. Kansas City Chiefs (via Buffalo) – WR Xavier Worthy, Texas

Most expected the Chiefs to draft a wide receiver, but maybe that wasn’t going to be the case after they signed Marquise Brown from the Cardinals, and they lost corner L’Jarius Sneed to the Titans. Maybe a corner like Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama) would have been the wiser move in the first round.

But when the Chiefs traded with Buffalo to move up from No. 32 to No. 28, it was a surprise to see them take Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy, who set the combine record with a 4.21 40-yard dash.

How could the Bills, who badly needed a wideout too, let their main nemesis move up and take a speedster like that? The Bills already traded Stefon Diggs to Houston to potentially shake up the AFC race. Now they are giving Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid one of the fastest wideouts to work with? What if Worthy turns into the next Tyreek Hill or DeSean Jackson?

But before Kansas City fans get too excited, there is some concern this pick won’t live up to the hype. Most of the fastest receivers at the combine fail to turn into legitimate NFL receivers. Worthy at least had three seasons of solid production at Texas, though he never had a monster season, and he only averaged 14.0 yards per catch. Getting another Jackson or Hill would certainly beat the odds with this pick.

The Chiefs also have to think about finding a wide receiver who can be a high-percentage target that’s productive and moves the chains for them. Travis Kelce has always filled that role for them in the Mahomes era, but he is 35 this season and won’t play much longer. Getting receivers like Hollywood Brown and what Worthy may be in the NFL doesn’t fit the role of a safety blanket and chain mover. They’re more boom-or-bust receivers, and we’ve already seen the Chiefs nearly blow their title defense with gadget receivers like Kadarius Toney and Mecole Hardman making mistakes.

It would have been nice to see the Chiefs break their wide receiver tradition with a different type of player like Ladd McConkey from Georgia, who would likely have no problem getting open with Mahomes finding him consistently. Some think Worthy’s Texas teammate Adonai Mitchell will also be the better pro, though that one feels more debatable.

But the allure of Worthy’s speed is understandable. Rashee Rice’s likely suspension for his recent car crash is probably another factor in why they couldn’t resist this pick. But it isn’t a sure-fire hit just because he’s going to play with the best quarterback and offensive coach in the game.

31. San Francisco 49ers – WR Ricky Pearsall, Florida

Does the selection of a wide receiver here mean the 49ers are moving Brandon Aiyuk in a trade? Guess we’ll find out Friday, but this was an interesting pick as Ricky Pearsall was thought to be a receiver who would go in the 40-50 range of the draft.

But he is no doubt an interesting prospect who could take advantage of the Kyle Shanahan offense with his size and speed down the field. Still would have thought Georgia’s Ladd McConkey would be a better pick for the 49ers, but if they’re moving Aiyuk, Pearsall makes more sense here.

32. Carolina Panthers (via Bills/Chiefs) – WR Xavier Legette, South Carolina

The Bills decided to move down again, trading their pick to another team (Panthers) that wanted a wide receiver. We know the Panthers were very limited at this position outside of Adam Thielen last year. They already traded for Diontae Johnson from the Steelers, but they apparently couldn’t wait until Friday night to take Xavier Legette from South Carolina.

Again, most experts had McConkey and Texas receiver Adonai Mitchell over Legette, but it’s a defensible pick. Legette stepped up last season with 1,255 yards and 7 touchdowns after doing very little in his first four collegiate seasons.

New coach Dave Canales has specialized in wide receivers in his coaching career, so hopefully he’ll find a way to make this pick work out and that Legette won’t be a one-year wonder in college who doesn’t hack it in the pros.

Tight End: Pour One Out for Brock Bowers

The best tight end in this draft went in the first round as expected, but we have to say the landing spot for Brock Bowers is disappointing if you want to see him flourish early in this league.

13. Las Vegas Raiders – TE Brock Bowers, Georgia

Not many had the Raiders looking at the tight end position after they traded up to use the No. 35 pick on Notre Dame’s Michael Mayer in the 2023 draft. Mayer showed some promise as a rookie too.

So, it was certainly a surprise when the Raiders took Brock Bowers with the No. 13 pick, continuing the historic run on offensive players. You would have thought new coach Antonio Pierce would be salivating with every defender still on the board, including the top corners and top edge rushers.

Tight end is almost a luxury pick for a team in the Raiders’ position. Are they even going to throw the ball a lot this year after failing to land a better quarterback than Gardner Minshew to compete with Aidan O’Connell? Remember, this is the team that lost 3-0 at home to the Vikings and beat the Chiefs without completing a pass after the first quarter. Are they going to utilize Bowers and Mayer together? No offense has really figured that out well in the NFL since the 2010-12 Patriots had Rob Gronkowski and [redacted].

As someone who wanted to see Bowers go to a contender or an exciting offensive situation like the Colts (offensive-minded head coach and Anthony Richardson’s new security blanket), this is a bummer. Bowers is going to have to overcome this situation and prove his value is as high as some thought it could be or else he faces adding his name to the long line of first-round tight ends who didn’t produce.

But sometimes it is as simple as where you land because that’s what you’re stuck with in your most important developmental years. It would have been better to see Bowers land in New Orleans, Indy, or Cincinnati.

Offensive Linemen: To Serve and Protect

The offensive linemen, particularly at tackle, were expected to be another of this draft’s strongest positions in the first round. In the end, nine offensive linemen (including one center) were drafted in the top 32 picks.

I am not not well-versed in college offensive linemen scouting to pick apart the finer details and differences between a Fashanu from a Fuaga or a Fautanu. But here are some thoughts on why these teams made these picks as they largely came from a place of need.

5. Los Angeles Chargers – OT Joe Alt, Notre Dame

You could see the dynamics shift in free agency in March for the Chargers when they got rid of Justin Herbert’s receiving weapons and brought in a running back (Gus Edwards) from Baltimore. While some thought the Chargers would use the No. 5 pick on a wide receiver like Malik Nabers or Rome Odunze to give Herbert his new weapon, it always felt probable that Jim Harbaugh would want Notre Dame left tackle Joe Alt with this pick.

The Chargers already have a good left tackle in Rashawn Slater, but now maybe they have a good right tackle too. Alt was the consensus-best tackle in this draft.

Still, it feels like it’s not the best value of a No. 5 pick, doesn’t it? To play devil’s advocate, the 2013 Eagles used the No. 4 pick on right tackle Lane Johnson, and he was one of the best picks in that draft and is still a Pro Bowler in Philly today.

But if you are feeling disappointed as a Chargers fan, that is understandable. It feels like the Chargers are building up a good team for a game-manager type at quarterback instead of a stud with Herbert’s skills. The good news is this draft is deep at wide receiver and they should still address that weakness on Day 2.

We hope at least. We still haven’t seen Blake Corum (Michigan) added to the backfield, and you know there’s a real chance of that happening Friday night.

7. Tennessee Titans – OT JC Latham, Alabama

The Titans were likely going to take Joe Alt if he was available, but they had to settle for JC Latham from Alabama. Not a bad consolation prize. He should slide in at left tackle next to Peter Skoronski, last year’s first-round pick at left guard.

New coach Brian Callahan comes from Cincinnati where his offense was always criticized for the offensive line play in front of Joe Burrow. He seems to be tackling that head-on with the Titans. This was probably always going to be a tackle pick.

11. New York Jets – OT Olumuyiwa Fashanu, Penn State

The bookmakers had tight end Brock Bowers as a slight favorite to go to the Jets, but that’s just not Aaron Rodgers’ style. He wants to hold the ball and hit his wideouts down the field.

But with the way the Jets looked up front on the offensive line last year, they had to act here. Signing a few veterans in free agency was not a long-term move. They saw Olumuyiwa Fashanu still available from Penn State and jumped on the opportunity to take him with the 11th pick after trading down a spot with Minnesota.

It’s not clear how much he’ll even play in 2024 with Tyron Smith (Cowboys) going there too. But this is a pick for the long term or a future that may not even include Rodgers or coach Robert Saleh if this season does not go well.

But the Jets had few other options after Odunze went off the board to the Bears at No. 9. Grabbing Dallas Turner may have made sense, but the recent trade for Haason Reddick (Eagles) made the edge rusher less of a need.

14. New Orleans Saints – OT Taliese Fuaga, Oregon State

The Saints were often tied to an offensive tackle and they did not disappoint on that front. They took Taliese Fuaga from Oregon State and he has a great shot to immediately replace left tackle Trevor Penning, their disappointing first-round pick from 2022.

The Saints are experiencing some cap hell and need to hit on picks like this for the future. Penning is proof that a “safe” offensive tackle pick is not foolproof, but Fashanu is a better prospect coming out of college and fills a need for protecting Derek Carr’s blind side.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – OT Amarius Mims, Georgia

The Bengals did very little last offseason outside of adding Orlando Brown Jr. at left tackle from the Chiefs. But any thought of that move hurting their chief rival and helping their Super Bowl chances died at the start of training camp when Joe Burrow injured his calf. He had a poor start to the season, then once things got better, his hand injury ended his season.

Cincinnati has to keep taking shots at the offensive line even if these injuries to their quarterback can be freak accidents that would have happened if they had a perfect clone of Anthony Munoz available.

Amarius Mims was a pick many saw the Steelers taking at No. 20, so it was reasonable for the Bengals to pull the trigger at No. 18. He could be the right tackle of the future or slide to the left if Brown doesn’t stay in town as long as intended.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – OT Troy Fautanu, Washington

The Steelers have been linked to offensive lineman all offseason, and they did not disappoint when they took Troy Fautanu with the 20th pick. A versatile lineman, the thought with Fautanu is he can start at right tackle while last year’s first-round pick, Broderick Jones, moves over to left tackle where he was intended to play all along.

Pittsburgh can look at wide receivers on Friday night where it has mastered the art of finding the Day 2 wideout. The offensive line made sense here despite all the corners being available. If we’re just being honest, head coach Mike Tomlin has not been the best developer of corners in his 17 years on the job in Pittsburgh.

25. Green Bay Packers – OT Jordan Morgan, Arizona

Like the Steelers, the Packers love to build through the draft and were tipping their hand that the offensive line was going to be the pick. While they lost David Bakhtiari at left tackle, the truth is they have played without him a lot in recent years due to injuries. Green Bay also lost right guard Jon Runyan Jr. in free agency. That likely had an impact on their decision to take Jordan Morgan from Arizona, who could be the new right guard this year.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers – C Graham Barton, Duke

A lot of people felt the Buccaneers were going with an edge rusher, but after Chop Robinson went No. 21 to the Dolphins, it reverted back to the offensive line for Tampa.

The Buccaneers had a Pro Bowl center in Ryan Jensen when they were winning a lot of games in 2020-21. But after he was injured in 2022 and retired, they had a hole to fill there. Getting the versatile Graham Barton and likely plugging him in at center fills a need and he was always expected to go in the mid-20s anyway.

29. Dallas Cowboys (via Detroit) – OT Tyler Guyton, Oklahoma

Dallas did a pretty good job here as many mocked Tyler Guyton to them at No. 24, but the Cowboys traded down with Detroit and still got Guyton at No. 29. He is a big tackle who has been compared to Tyron Smith, who left the Cowboys after more than a decade this offseason.

Guyton grew up a Dallas fan and was obviously emotional when he got the call that he is going to Dallas. It was a smart pick for the team and the trade down worked perfectly.

Defense: The Nine Brave Souls Who Cared to Draft Defenders

We knew it was going to be a night heavy on offense as the over/under was 20.5 offensive players drafted with some sportsbooks moving to 21.5. In the end, it was even higher at a record 23, leaving just nine spots for defenders.

The fact it took 15 picks for any team to take one does not speak kindly about the potential of this defensive class, but some of these fits should work out well for the teams who dared to still care about defense in the NFL draft.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Edge Laiatu Latu, UCLA

After 14 straight picks on offense, the Colts ended the madness and took their top defender in Laiatu Latu. Was he the top-ranked edge rusher on most big boards? No, but Latu was very productive in college despite a serious injury early in his career. Production is good to see, and if the Colts are ever going to get back into serious contention in the AFC, they need that reliable edge rusher who can get after quarterbacks like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, and Lamar Jackson.

Latu was a fine pick at No. 15 and the concerns over his medical history are overblown. Granted, going to Indianapolis with its history of player injuries is not the most reassuring place, but Latu could be the team’s best edge since Robert Mathis.

16. Seattle Seahawks – DT Byron Murphy, Texas

A little run on defense started with the Seahawks taking the top defensive tackle prospect in Byron Murphy from Texas. This always felt like a defensive pick with new coach Mike Macdonald coming in from Baltimore where he had the top-ranked defense in 2023.

Who was a breakout star on that defense? Defensive tackle Justin Madubuike stepped up in his fourth season with 13 sacks, which made him a lot of money this offseason from the Ravens. Macdonald is hoping he can have a similar impact on Murphy, and he gets him from Day 1 in Seattle.

17. Minnesota Vikings (via Jacksonville) – Edge Dallas Turner, Alabama

The Vikings traded up from No. 23 to No. 17 to take Dallas Turner, the top-ranked edge rusher from Alabama. Who says teams don’t draft for need anymore? The Vikings lost quarterback Kirk Cousins and edge rusher Danielle Hunter this year. They traded up twice in the draft to take quarterback J.J. McCarthy and edge rusher Dallas Turner.

Are McCarthy and Turner going to be as good as Cousins and Hunter? That’s probably something you’d want to bet against. But even if the Vikings spent a little more than they needed to on this move for Turner, at least they prioritized the exact positions you should trade up for if you’re going that route.

Getting Turner at No. 17 is good value too as he was the most likely pick to go to Atlanta at No. 8 before the Falcons fell in love with Penix.

19. Los Angeles Rams – Edge Jared Verse, Florida State

For the first time since 2016, the Rams used a first-round pick. You might have expected it would be an offensive player for Sean McVay, but the board worked out to where it was too hard to pass up on Jared Verse, one of the top-edge rushers in the class.

The Rams lost Aaron Donald to retirement, so instead of trying to replace that irreplaceable force in the middle, they are going a different route with a top-edge rusher in Verse. Hard to argue with the logic of this pick.

21. Miami Dolphins – Edge Demeioun “Chop” Robinson

Some think the Dolphins would have taken Washington tackle Troy Fautanu if the Steelers didn’t take him with the No. 20 pick. But if you look at Miami’s season-ending losses to Buffalo in Week 18 and the Chiefs in the AFC wild-card round, they needed more pass rush. You’re not surviving this AFC if you can’t get to the quarterback.

Chop Robinson may be a project, but he only has to be the secondary pass rusher there as the team still has Bradley Chubb. Oddly enough, the Dolphins also added veteran Shaquill Barrett, which is why many thought Chop would go to the Buccaneers. Instead, he’s in Miami and can learn from the veterans.

He may be a poor man’s version of Micah Parsons, but if he’s half as good, that’s still worth a No. 21 pick.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – CB Quinyon Mitchell, Toledo

The board worked out well for the Eagles, who had their choice of any cornerback they wanted. Most had Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell as the No. 1 prospect at his position, and that’s who the Eagles picked. Mitchell did not look happy on TV, but that’s likely because he thought he could go 10 picks higher than this before finally going No. 22 to the Eagles.

But they needed him. Darius Slay isn’t getting any younger and James Bradberry fell off a cliff last season. Mitchell should be a good fit to help improve this defense right away.

24. Detroit Lions (via Dallas) – CB Terrion Arnold, Alabama

The draft was in Detroit this year, corner was the position the team needed to fix the most, so why not trade up from No. 29 and take the second-best corner prospect in the draft? Some would even put Alabama’s Terrion Arnold at the top, and he has the skills to instantly become Detroit’s best cover corner.

He’s already a hit with the Detroit crowd too after acknowledging the fans in one of the night’s coolest moments:

27. Arizona Cardinals – DE Darius Robinson, Missouri

The Cardinals already addressed wide receiver earlier, so it was probably time to go defense. Jonathan Gannon had all those sack masters in Philadelphia in 2022, yet when he got to Arizona last year, J.J. Watt had retired, and the 2023 Cardinals were led in sacks by Dennis Gardeck (6.0).

It was time to add an edge rusher. Darius Robinson from Missouri was a prospect worth taking a chance to develop.

30. Baltimore Ravens – CB Nate Wiggins, Clemson

The Ravens had their choice of positions with linemen (either side of the ball) and wide receivers. Corner was probably not on the top of anyone’s list, but with those players slipping in the draft, Nate Wiggins ranked No. 23 on the NFL Mock Draft Database’s consensus big board, was still available. He could start opposite Marlon Humphrey in Week 1, and you can never have enough good corners in the NFL.

What to Watch for Friday Night (Rounds 2-3)

Day 2 will have a hard time topping this, but a team to watch is Buffalo after trading out of the round. Do the Bills pull off a major trade for someone like Brandon Aiyuk (49ers) or Tee Higgins (Bengals)? That could be the story of the night as the Bills have to make some kind of power move there after watching teams draft Worthy and Legette with picks they had.

We joked about it earlier, but we’ll see if the Raiders, losers in the quarterback arms race so far, use a pick Friday night on a quarterback. South Carolina quarterback Spencer Rattler may be the best prospect left in the draft at that coveted position.

But there are still plenty of interesting prospects on the board who were expected to go in the first round. Look for corners Cooper DeJean (Iowa) and Kool-Aid McKinstry (Alabama) and wideouts Ladd McConkey (Georgia) and Adonai Mitchell (Texas) to go in the second round.

Also, those crazy Falcons are on the clock again with the No. 43 pick, so mark that down for must-see TV. Who knows, maybe they’ll draft Texas running back Jonathon Brooks to back up Bijan Robinson…

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