5 Takeaways From The First Round of The NFL Draft

5 Takeaways From The First Round of The NFL Draft
Sports Illustrated
  1. What on earth are the Atlanta Falcons doing?

After signing free agent QB Kirk Cousins to a 4 year/$180 million contract earlier in the offseason, the expectation was that the Falcons were finally set at QB for the first time since the Matt Ryan days. If anyone said before the Draft that the Falcons would take Washington QB Michael Penix Jr with the 8th overall pick, they would either be A) a massive liar or B) a time traveler. Not to degrade Penix too much, I personally love him as a prospect and was a huge proponent that Penix was head and shoulders the best of the second tier of QB’s, ahead of the likes of McCarthy, Nix and Rattler. But the Falcons, what in the world are they doing here. Penix will be 28 by the end of Cousins contract and even if Cousins flounders, gets hurt or Penix is just that much better, the Falcons would be hamstrung financially paying either the most expensive backup QB in the league or the largest dead money cap hit in history. Lose-Lose situation here in the ATL.

  1. Run on offensive players

While the casual NFL fan knows the league’s skewing towards the offensive side of the ball in recent years, even experts were surprised at the run on offensive players in the first round of the 2024 Draft. Out of the 32 first round selections, 9 were defensive players and the first player on that side of the ball didn't come off the board until #15. Along this trend it was certainly no surprise that 8 of the 9 first round defensive players were cornerbacks and edge rushers. With the premium placed on moving the ball in the air, it’s clear teams are drafting along those lines by shoring up their pass defense and taking impact players on the edge that can keep a gunslinger at bay.

  1. Teams reached for McCarthy/Nix?

I said this before the draft and I’ll say it again now. McCarthy and Nix had no business being remotely close to first round picks based on their talent alone. Neither quarterback possessed the elite traits of the first four QB’s selected and in Nix’s case, he had one good year of tape out of 6 years in college. A 24 year-old dominating 18-21’s, yeah I’d take that with a grain of salt. As for McCarthy, yes he was a winning college quarterback and had flashes of good moments. However, the question I've always asked regarding McCarthy’s evaluation is if Caleb Williams or Jayden Daniels was on that Michigan squad instead of McCarthy, do they lead the Michigan offense via the air? My answer is yes and in my eyes it's an indictment of McCarthy. If you possess a NFL first round caliber QB, you would attempt more than 16 pass plays in the national championship game. We’ll see how they develop but another red flag is the fact that both QB’s will most likely be entrusted early in their rookie year to lead their respective offenses. Are they ready? I doubt it.

  1. The Rich get Richer

One of the clear winners of the 2024 Draft was the reigning Super Bowl champs, the Kansas City Chiefs. The Chiefs were very active trading up and down throughout the draft to get their guy like WR Xavier Worthy in the first round and OT Kingsley Suamataia in the second. Both trade ups were made with a postseason rival as the Bills allowed the Chiefs to jump ahead of two teams that drafted WR’s right after. (49ers/Ricky Pearsall and Panthers/Xavier Leggete) In the second round, the team they beat in the Super Bowl, the San Francisco 49ers allowed the Chiefs to jump ahead and select a future blindside blocker for Patrick Mahomes. These teams may look back at the trades with regret if this draft turns into a long term win for the Chiefs. 

  1. Wide Receivers Galore

In a year where every team was looking to upgrade on the offensive side of the ball, history was missed by one pick. In the first three rounds of the Draft, 16 receivers were selected, one shy of tying the record. Possessing both top end talent such as the likes of Marvin Harrison Jr, Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze as well as later round projects with potential to contribute like Ja’Lynn Polk and Ladd McConkey, this receiver draft class will be one to remember in a league beholden to its star offensive players.

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