2024 NFL Draft Recap: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly 

Author:
Oddstrader

Every NFL draft has some themes to it, but the 2024 NFL draft was downright historic for offensive players. A record 23 of them went in the 1st round, including a record 14 straight offensive picks to begin a draft class.

There were also 6 quarterbacks in the first 12 picks, which was another record. Over/Under for the first round was set at 4.5 QBs by the top betting sites, in case you were wondering.

However, no quarterbacks went off the board again until Spencer Rattler in the 5th round (150th overall), which was the longest gap between quarterback picks in any NFL draft since the 1970 merger.

This is an NFL draft we will be discussing (and second-guessing) for years to come. We have prepared the good, the bad and the ugly from the 2024 NFL draft.

The Good

 

Let’s start with our favorite positive outcomes, including some smart picks, examples of good process and credit for taking a bold approach.

Eagles Double Up at Corner

A big part of the reason the Eagles had 70 sacks and made the Super Bowl in 2022 is because they had great coverage from their corner duo in Darius Slay and James Bradberry.

A big reason the defense fell apart in 2023 is because the pass defense couldn’t cover anyone, and Bradberry especially regressed in a bad season.

The Eagles knew they needed help at corner, and they had the entire corner class available to them at No. 22. They took the top prospect in Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell, then for good measure, they came back up to No. 40 in the 2nd round and took Cooper DeJean from Iowa.

You can never have enough good corners in the NFL. The Eagles doubled their chances of landing a stud by taking 2 of the top 3 players at the position. DeJean can also return punts, so he has extra value. Who knows, maybe both will work out and they will be the new Slay and Bradberry for Philly.

Steelers Bolster Offensive Line for the Future

If you’ve seen Russell Wilson and Justin Fields play quarterback in the NFL, then you know they hold onto the ball longer than most. In fact, they held the ball longer than any other full-time starters in the league last year according to Next Gen Stats. Fields had an average time to throw of 3.23 seconds and Wilson was 3.06 seconds.

The Steelers know they better beef up the offensive line with these quarterbacks coming to town this year. They got a great value when Washington tackle Troy Fautanu fell to them at No. 20. He could play guard, but he could also play either tackle position to go along with last year’s pick, Broderick Jones.

Pittsburgh also grabbed center Zach Frazier from West Virginia in the 2nd round, and the team has usually had a great success rate at adding centers in the draft (Mike Webster, Dermontti Dawson and Maurkice Pouncey).

If Wilson and Fields aren’t the answer behind this revamped line, then the next quarterback will appreciate the effort here.

Chiefs Reload the Offense for Three-Peat

You have to chuckle at what the Chiefs did in this draft. The Super Bowl champs had the last pick in the first 2 rounds, and yet their main rivals still let them trade with them to get better pieces on offense for Patrick Mahomes.

The Bills traded the No. 28 pick to the Chiefs, who took the fastest wide receiver in the draft in Xavier Worthy (Texas). There’s no guarantee he will be Tyreek Hill or DeSean Jackson at the next level, but you know who drafted and coached both of those players? Andy Reid. If the Bills let the Chiefs get their next big weapon in the Mahomes era, they’ll regret it forever.

Then in the 2nd round, the 49ers let the Chiefs trade up a spot with them. Lost to them in another Super Bowl in February, but they still let them trade up. Kansas City took BYU offensive tackle Kingsley Suamataia, one of the top-rated players at his position for the 2nd round. That could be the new left tackle in Kansas City for years to come.

Remember these moves if the Chiefs pull off an unprecedented three-peat of Super Bowl wins this year.

Chargers Remember Wide Receivers Do Exist

There was a little shock that the Chargers took Joe Alt with the No. 5 pick instead of a wide receiver after the team let go of Mike Williams and Keenan Allen. They also lost running back Austin Ekeler, who was a major safety valve for Justin Herbert.

Who is Herbert going to throw to? Well, hold your horses. The Chargers had a plan all along as they traded up to the No. 34 pick and took Ladd McConkey from Georgia. It’s a great addition to the offense and he could be the Cooper Kupp in this offense. Something different than the receivers Herbert is used to having, though he should fill the void of Allen well.

In the end, taking the best left tackle prospect with a 1st-round quality prospect at wideout is a better move for the Chargers than if they took Malik Nabers (LSU) with the No. 5 pick and had to settle for one of those 2nd-round tackles.

New coach Jim Harbaugh obviously wants to run the football more and Alt will be part of that. But they still knew they had to get a wideout and they got it done with a steal in McConkey, who should bring more separation to the offense. Watch the play-action success of that combination in this new setup.

It was one of the smartest starts to a draft, by any team, this year.

Bears Buck Tradition and Help Caleb Immediately

The Bears are almost never in a position to draft a franchise quarterback like Caleb Williams. After taking him No. 1 overall, they wasted little time helping him even more with the No. 9 pick.

In the past, you could have counted on Chicago to take a defensive player with that pick. Someone like defensive tackle Byron Murphy (Texas) or maybe Dallas Turner (Alabama) as the best edge rusher. The Bears always have to play great defense, right?

Well, they said forget about tradition and took the best player available that they still needed in Rome Odunze, the Washington wideout. While they have D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen, the Allen trade is a short-term rental. Odunze is someone who could grow with Williams for years to come like the Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase situation in Cincinnati.

The Bears can see their division is loading up with offense with the Lions, then Jordan Love leading the Packers and even the Vikings getting J.J. McCarthy as most expected. Let Caleb Williams cook with weapons, and that’s exactly what Chicago did by taking Odunze.

For once, we will go into a season excited to see the Bears take the field on offense.

The Bad

 

Next, let’s highlight some negatives, including some picks that were reaches, bad process or not good value.

Buffalo Lets the Speedster Go to Kansas City

Is Buffalo intent on trading useful wide receivers to every team in the NFL before helping out Josh Allen with a new group? We’ve already seen the Bills let Gabe Davis go to Jacksonville in free agency, then they traded Stefon Diggs to Houston in what is potentially a power-shifting move in the AFC.

But then to trade with the Chiefs at No. 28 and let them draft the Texas wideout who ran a 4.21 second 40-yard dash at this year’s NFL combine? That type of madness will never be forgotten if Xavier Worthy is the real deal in Kansas City. The Bills could have taken that type of player and given Allen amazing speed to air the deep ball to for years to come.

Instead, the Bills traded down and let the Chiefs have him. Then they traded down again with Carolina from No. 32 to No. 33, meaning they lost out on the 5th-year option on the player’s contract.

Missing Out?

This time, they lost out on South Carolina receiver Xavier Legette, which begs the question. Does Buffalo just hate people named Xavier? No interest there? Apparently not, because the Bills took Keon Coleman (Florida State), who was one of the slowest wideouts in the combine this year.

The initial press conference for Coleman went well as he seems like a fun kid, and he’ll likely play faster than he tested at the combine. But like how the Chargers broke some tendencies from the big Mike Williams type of receiver by taking McConkey, it would have been nice if Buffalo took a speed demon like Worthy or a deluxe version of Cole Beasley in McConkey instead of another deep threat who may not separate well in the NFL.

But we’ll see how it goes. Hopefully better than the Kelvin Benjamin comparisons some have thrown out there.

Panthers Trade Up for Receiver Buffalo Didn’t Even Want

As we just mentioned, the Panthers moved up from No. 33 to No. 32 to get a taste of the 1st round Thursday night. It also secures a 5th-year option, which is a nice way to get more financial control over a player at the beginning of his career.

We knew the Panthers would take a wideout, but was Xavier Legette the right one? He played 5 seasons at South Carolina, and he was held to 167 yards or fewer in 4 of them. He had more yards in 2023 (1,255) than the rest of his career combined (423).

Is that just a glow-up, a player finally peaking when given more opportunities, or is he a 1-year wonder? We’ll find out in a better offensive system for the Panthers under new coach Dave Canales, but I’m not sure Legette is the receiver to trade up for when Ladd McConkey, Adonai Mitchell and Keon Coleman were all on the board too.

Did Denver Panic to Take Bo Nix at No. 12?

Telling someone Bo Nix would have gone No. 12 a few years ago would have been hard to believe. It also would have been sketchy on Thursday evening going into the draft.

But once the Atlanta Falcons used that No. 8 pick on Michael Penix Jr., that seemed to open the floodgates and a few teams lost their minds. The Vikings were so scared of losing out on J.J. McCarthy that they traded up a spot from No. 11 to No. 10 to get him.

The Broncos had their choice of any defender in the draft, or they could have added a weapon like Brock Bowers at tight end. Instead, they took Bo Nix, the Oregon quarterback who completed a record 77.4% of his passes last year.

But few had Nix going in the top 12 as his Over/Under was 32.5 on draft day at the sportsbooks. Many believed 2nd round was more realistic, but the Penix pick seemed to change minds.

Fun Fact

The weirdest part is no quarterback went after Nix at No. 12 until Spencer Rattler finally came off the board at No. 150, creating the largest gap between quarterback picks in an NFL draft since the 1970 merger.

The concern here is that these picks of Penix, McCarthy and Nix feel like reaches as they created a record 6 quarterbacks taken in the top 12 picks. For these team’s sake, it better not be a repeat of the 2011 draft when teams reached to take quarterbacks Jake Locker (No. 8 Titans), Blaine Gabbert (No. 10 Jaguars) and Christian Ponder (No. 12 Vikings).

We just had a 2021 NFL draft where 5 quarterbacks went in the top 15, and Trevor Lawrence is the only one who hasn’t been traded away to another team going into the 2024 season.

Some of these 6 quarterbacks are going to bust, and Nix is one of the biggest concerns as a reach.

The Ugly

 

Finally, let’s end with some of the ugliest moments of the draft, including the picks that are indefensible, and a player we wish was going to a better team to start his career.

Michael Penix Jr. Is One of the Worst Draft Pick Processes in NFL History

Not only was the Michael Penix Jr. pick by Atlanta the most shocking of the night, but it was the dumbest pick of the entire draft, and maybe the worst process behind an NFL draft pick in the 21st century.

Let’s add up some of the ways this pick was awful.

One of the biggest advantages of drafting a 1st-round quarterback is a cheaper contract for up to 5 years, allowing the team more flexibility to spend elsewhere.

But the Falcons already gave quarterback Kirk Cousins the biggest contract in 2024 free agency with 4 years, $180 million, and $100 million fully guaranteed.

Cousins’ cap hit will climb to $40 million in 2025 and $57.5 million in 2026.

Bench Warmer

While Penix is sitting on the bench and not gaining valuable reps, the Falcons will have one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the game, hurting their chances to land other high-priced free agents in 2025-26.

The Falcons could have drafted any defender they wanted and chose to get an eventual backup for Cousins, who has almost never had a good defense in his career and has never made it past the divisional round of the playoffs for that reason.

The Falcons could have drafted Rome Odunze as a great WR2 or Brock Bowers as another tight end weapon for Cousins, but they got his replacement instead.

On top of that, Atlanta will likely lose a draft pick for tampering charges in talking to Cousins in free agency.

Penix was QB5 on most draft boards and considered a potential late 1st-round or early 2nd-round pick.

To Make Things Worse

Penix will be 24 years old this season, so he is an older rookie quarterback that they are expected to sit for multiple years.

To make matters worse, Atlanta GM Terry Fontenot tried defending the pick on draft night by claiming that if Penix sits for 4-5 years, then that means the Falcons are having success and it’s a good problem.

This is not how this works. If the Falcons have success with Penix on the bench, it will be in spite of that pick. They are actively hurting their chances to do better now by picking for their future in him.

Also, no quarterback has sat for 4-plus years and turned out to be a great starter. That’s just not how any of this works. Throw in Penix’s age and it just gets worse.

Brock Bowers Draws a Tough Hand in Las Vegas

Brock Bowers was the top tight end in this draft class, and it would have been great to see him go to an offense that will know how to use him. Imagine him in Indianapolis as a safety blanket for Anthony Richardson and with the offensive mind of coach Shane Steichen.

The Rams were also reportedly interested in going up to get him, giving Matthew Stafford and Sean McVay another toy to work into the offense.

But alas, we are stuck with Bowers going No. 13 to the Raiders, the team that lost a home game played indoors 3-0 last year, and the team that beat the Chiefs without completing a pass in the final 3 quarters.

Odd Team Out

The Raiders lost on the quarterback market with the top 6 all going off the board in 12 picks, so they used their No. 13 pick on Bowers. Hard to argue with the value, but it is not a good fit for his skills. They just traded up last year to No. 35 to take Notre Dame tight end Michael Mayer, and it’s not like he had a bad rookie year. He showed promise.

An elite tight end in the right situation can lead to greatness as we have seen with multiple dynasties and Super Bowl-winning teams over the years. Just look at Shannon Sharpe, Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce and the success they had on their teams. Bowers was the tight end in this draft with that potential.

Now it just feels like the odds of him achieving greatness just got much longer as he’s stuck in Vegas with Aidan O’Connell and Gardner Minshew in a team that would be content to win another game without completing a pass for 3 quarters.

Just win, baby. But don’t expect to throw many passes to the tight ends you should have great mismatches with.

This pick is a loss for football fans.

Cowboys Flop in Pursuit of Star Running Back for 2024

In a year where the Michael Penix Jr. pick happened, it may be sour grapes to complain about the Cowboys not getting a running back.

But 2024 is also a year where just about every team swapped their old back for a new one in the wildest game of musical chairs at the position that this league has seen in a long time.

While the Cowboys gave up Tony Pollard to the Titans, they didn’t get anyone in return. Even Derrick Henry, who went to the Ravens, commented that he thought he’d be going to Dallas to play for Jerry Jones and be the latest in a long line of great backs, which includes Tony Dorsett, Herschel Walker, Emmitt Smith, DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott.

Yet, Dallas went into the draft with just Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, and free agent addition Royce Freeman on the depth chart at running back. This led to many people mocking Jonathon Brooks of Texas to the Cowboys at No. 56 as the 1st running back to be drafted in 2024.

From High, High to Low, Low

On Thursday, Dallas owner Jerry Jones spoke very highly of Brooks, making it no secret the team was interested. “He’s just outstanding. He’s a great football player. We’ve got him high, high, high. And he’s a good player,” said Jones.

But on Friday, the Carolina Panthers traded up from No. 52 to No. 46 to take Brooks a full 10 spots before the Cowboys were up. So much for that idea.

In the end, Dallas drafted 8 players and none of them were running backs, so they could be going into the season with Dowdle, Vaughn and Freeman in the running for the least intimidating backfield in the league.

It may not sound like a huge deal given how replaceable running backs are, but when the Cowboys are in talks to bring back Ezekiel Elliott in the Year of our Lord 2024, then you know things are pretty dire in Big D at the RB position. Oh wait, they did just bring him back. Yikes!

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