NFL DRAFT 2024: Round 1 Instant Reaction

By Rory Daniels

After all the build-up, the hay is in the barn. Day 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft is over. All the trades, all the drama, unfolded over the course of around four hours on Thursday evening/Friday morning. Rory Daniels gives you his immediate reaction to every Round 1 pick below:

Bears, Chicago Bears 2020

1. Chicago Bears

Caleb Williams, QB, USC

There are no surprises to kick the night off. Williams is the consensus QB1 and one of the most exciting guys to come into the NFL in recent years. The Bears do the business and reset the position. Williams gets a strong supporting cast that means he could drive Chicago to a playoff run early in his career. This was a no-brainer; the intrigue for the Bears comes with the ninth pick.

Grade – A+

When you need a quarterback and get the best one, what other grade can you expect?

2. Washington Commanders

Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU

Another pick heavily tipped by the media, the Commanders find their signal-caller of the future in LSU’s Jayden Daniels. Daniels is a true dual-threat quarterback, an electric playmaker with both his arm and legs. There are concerns, however. His pressure-to-sack ratio is alarmingly high, and he had a star-studded support group around him in college.

Grade – B-

The Commanders had to go QB here, and it’s easy to see why they went for the Heisman Trophy winner. I had Maye ranked ahead of Daniels, hence why I’ve doocked them a couple of points here.

Patriots, New England Patriots

3. New England Patriots

Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina

Despite the rumours swirling of a trade out of this spot, the Patriots stick here and take Maye. Even though he is QB3 off the board, Maye was heavily touted as a challenger to Williams earlier in this process. The Pats can look forward to his huge arm and playmaking ability.

Grade – A

The Patriots grab a QB with an insanely high ceiling, a huge upgrade from the Mac Jones era.

Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals 2020

4. Arizona Cardinals

Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State

The Cardinals have a bunch of draft capital, and they didn’t get cute by moving out of the top 5. They also kept mock drafts alive by selecting Marvin Harrison Jr. It’s fun to finally see big names back in Arizona and exciting to think how Harrison pairs with Kyler Murray to give the Cards offense a fresh identity.

Grade – A+

I think it took all Monti Ossenfort’s resolve not to trade here, and he made the right choice. Harrison was my number one player, so getting him at 4 represents great value.

Los Angeles Chargers 2020

5. Los Angeles Chargers

Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Here’s where the fun started! Having been linked with JC Latham all day on Thursday, the Chargers instead went for Notre Dame’s left tackle Joe Alt. I think it’s a sensible choice. It gives them two great bookend tackles (Alt will pair with Rashawn Slater) and gives Justin Herbert a long-term protection plan.

Grade – A

The Chargers wanted to get more physical in the trenches and Alt was the best offensive lineman on my board. A tone-setter for this offense.

Giants, New York Giants 2020

6. New York Giants

Mali Nabers, WR, LSU

Plenty of JJ McCarthy buzz swirled around prior to this pick, but the Giants instead matched my mock draft and took Nabers. This is Daniel Jones’ season of reckoning, and the Giants owe it to him to give him a weapon to help.

Grade – A+

Resisting the temptation to take McCarthy and instead select an elite playmaker deserves the highest possible grade—an explosive addition in the Big Apple.

Titans, Tennessee Titans 2020

7. Tennessee Titans

JC Latham, OT. Alabama

It always felt like the Titans wanted to bolster the offensive line and protect Will Levis. Seeing Alt come off the board will have stung, so they pivoted to JC Latham. He’s a road-grader, but to me, it’s a reach, considering the athletic question marks. 

Grade – C

Latham has a high pedigree but an incomplete athletic profile. That’s a worry, and with Odunze on the board, I would have leaned that way.

Falcons, Atlanta Falcons 2020

8. Atlanta Falcons

Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Well, well, well. Things were going fairly serenely, and then bang. The Falcons, having invested heavily in Kirk Cousins to open a Super Bowl window, go back to the well and draft a backup quarterback with the 8th pick! Penix had a great year in Washington, but he’s older and has injury concerns. A true shocker of a pick!

Grade – D

Not to beat up on Penix but I had him as a late first-rounder at best. The Falcons should be all-in around Cousins and burning a top-10 pick on his successor is very questionable logic.

Bears, Chicago Bears 2020

9. Chicago Bears

Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

The Bears benefit from a couple of reaches ahead of them and land a top receiver to add to their impressive stable. Odunze and Caleb Williams should be a fantastic match, and it gives them a plan for life after Keenan Allen.

Grade – A+

The dream scenario for Bears fans. An elite receiver to pair with Caleb Williams without having to move up the draft board. Excellent day one haul.

Vikings, Minnesota Vikings

10. Minnesota Vikings (from New York Jets)

JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

The Vikings survived the ultimate game of chicken to land a quarterback. Plenty of teams wanted to take a haul off them, but they stayed patient and watched McCarthy fall into thier laps, only giving up some mid-round fodder to jump up one spot. I’m not sold on the player, but he lands at the most quarterback-friendly spot possible.

Grade – B+

I’m not high on McCarthy, but hats off to the Vikings for not getting jittery. They can now enjoy holding on to the 23rd pick later on.

Jets, New York Jets

11. New York Jets (from Minnesota Vikings)

Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Okay, time to breathe. After all that craziness, the Jets showed everybody how to stay calm and draft properly. They needed a long-term solution at tackle, and what a great spot to land and learn behind Tyron Smith. Fashanu has elite movement ability and a high ceiling.

Grade – A

The Jets could have gone for the flashy pick of Bowers, but they get a franchise left tackle and some mid-round picks. Tidy evening.

Broncos, Denver Broncos 2020

12. Denver Broncos

Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

This is a quarterback league, baby! Six in twelve picks. It feels like the Broncos were backed into a corner with this one, and Sean Payton’s unwavering self-belief means he thinks he can turn Nix into a star. It’s a bold move, to say the least. 

Grade – C-

There is a ton of elite talent on the board, so going to QB is a reach here. The Wilson deal crushed the Broncos, and they are chasing their tail with this pick.

Raiders, Las Vegas Raiders

13. Las Vegas Raiders

Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Bowers was a top-10 player in this class, but his position tag hampered him. The Raiders are building a solid supporting cast to drop a quarterback into, and Bowers with Davante Adams is scary on paper. The big question is, what does it mean for Michael Mayer?

Grade – B-

It’s hard to criticise a team for staying true to its board, but the Raiders did have needs at corner and O-line, so it was a bit of a luxury grab.

Saints, New Orleans Saints 2020

14. New Orleans Saints

Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State

The Ryan Ramczyk injury concerns made this selection a no-brainer. The Saints add a starting right tackle here, and another mauling tone-setter comes off the board. I have question marks over his ability to deal with pure speed rushers, but he brings power to the run game.

Grade – B+

The Saints fill a major need with a plug-and-play right tackle. Fuaga brings some nasty to the Saints’ offensive line.

Colts, Indianapolis Colts 2020

15. Indianapolis Colts

Laiatu Latu, Edge, UCLA

Sat at pick 15, the Colts must have been beaming when the whole defensive draft board remained intact. Latu is the most complete edge rusher in this class, and as long as his injury problems remain in his past, it should be a solid selection.

Grade – B

Cornerback would have been my selection here, but the league loves players who can affect the quarterback, and Latu is probably the best at doing so.

Seahawks, Seattle Seahawks 2020

16. Seattle Seahawks

Byron Murphy, IDL, Texas

A popular pick pre-draft that looked like a pipe dream as rumours swirled of Murphy being liked by teams in the top 10. However, he was on the board and he adds further beef to a line featuring the likes of Leonard Williams and Dre’Mont Jones.

Grade – B

Solid job here by the Seahawks. Murphy is a disruptor on the interior, and we saw what MacDonald did with Madubuike in Baltimore.

Vikings, Minnesota Vikings

17. Minnesota Vikings (from Jacksonville Jaguars)

Dallas Turner, Edge, Alabama

The Vikings jump up again to stop Turner from falling here. The edge rusher out of Alabama is a logical replacement for Danielle Hunter. He has SEC production, elite athleticism, and crazy measurables. That said, his best football is likely ahead of him.

Grade – A

The Vikings got their QB and high-ceiling edge prospect. That’s an excellent haul that could make them a challenger sooner rather than later.

Cincinnati Bengals 2020

18. Cincinnati Bengals

Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

When you’ve paid your quarterback a mega-contract, you have to make plans to protect him. Trent Brown is the right tackle placeholder in Cincy, but Mims now becomes the long-term solution. It’s not risk-free; he’s had injuries and lacks experience, but he will get time to develop in Cincy.

Grade – C+

Mims could be special, but there are many question marks. Perhaps the Bengals would have benefitted from an immediate starter during their Super Bowl window.

Los Angeles Rams 2020

19. Los Angeles Rams

Jared Verse, Edge, Florida State

The Rams defense was largely cobbled together last year, but it fared very well. Now, they get the opportunity to add a super powerful edge rusher. Verse is a tad one-dimensional, but it works when the dimension is putting you on your backside.

Grade – B+

The Rams benefit from the defense getting shoved down the board. Verse is an immediate starter who could push for defensive rookie of the year.

Steelers, Pittsburgh Steelers 2020

20. Pittsburgh Steelers

Troy Fautanu, OT, Washington

The thing that pops on Fautanu’s tape is the nasty in his game. So it makes sense that the Steelers see him as a fit. If he’s healthy he can challenge Dan Moore and pair with Broderick Jones to give the Steelers a solid future at the position.

Grade – B-

Fautanu was a favourite of mine, but there are injury concerns. This was another team that could have benefitted from one of the corners still available.

Dolphins, Miami Dolphins 2020

21. Miami Dolphins

Chop Robinson, Edge, Penn State

Injuries hit the Dolpins edge rushing room last season so bolstering the group was imperative. Robinson is more of a bendy, speed rusher than Phillips and Chubb so it meshes nicely. The biggest question is the lack of production.

Grade – C

Robinson didn’t get home a lot in the Big 10, is he suddenly going to do it in the NFL? He doesn’t have to be the leader of the pack here but he will need to make a step up to become a serious threat off the edge.

Eagles, Philadelphia Eagles 2020

22. Philadelphia Eagles

Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

It’s funny how teams at the top of the draft making crazy decisions leads to good teams getting better. I had the Eagles trading up for Mitchell so to get him here is a slam dunk. He adds youth to an ageing secondary. Fantastic pick.

Grade – A+ 

Filling your major need with the best player at the position is how to draft. The pre-draft process eased any concerns about Mitchell playing lower competition. I think he’ll be a star.

Jaguars, Jacksonville Jaguars 2020

23. Jacksonville Jaguars

Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU

Pretty predictably the Jaguars land a wide receiver. Kudos to them, though, for having the bravery to move off their spot and still land the best guy outside the top 3. This gives Trevor Lawrence a true playmaker to take the top of defenses.

Grade – B+

Thomas may be a one-trick pony, but it’s an impressive trick. Deep speed is always valued in the NFL, and this helps fill out the Jags’ receiving room.

Lions, Detroit Lions 2020

24. Detroit Lions (from Dallas Cowboys)

Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

What a night for Terrion Arnold. The hosts traded to grab the second corner off the board to a rapturous ovation. Corner was always the aim but to get Arnold is a steal. The 40-time wasn’t ideal but Arnold is a tough dude and sticky corner. Great fit and great value.

Grade – A

When the best player available meets the most pressing need, you get good picks. The Lions’ decision to add Arnold to a secondary that already has Carlton Davis and Brian Branch is a power move.

Packers, Green Bay Packers

25. Green Bay Packers

Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona

A good spot to land the long-term replacement for David Bakhtiari, and since Jordan Morgan was announced as a tackle, it appears that’s how the Packers view him. He fits their mould with a 9.0 RAS score and could switch to the interior.

Grade – B-

There is nothing flashy here, likely gazumped by the Lions for Arnold; the Packers flexed to their highest-ranked tackle. Solid despite being unspectacular.

Buccaneers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2020

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Graham Barton, C, Duke

A sense of relief here for the Bucs, the Cowboys moving back opened up the interior o-line guys for Tampa. Barton is athletic and versatile; he should be a long-term starter and is the solid pick that looks sensible in a few years.

Grade – B+ 

I’m higher on Barton than Morgan, so this gives the Bucs the edge over the grade I gave the Packers—an intelligent and athletic offensive lineman for the Bucs.

Cardinals, Arizona Cardinals 2020

27. Arizona Cardinals

Darius Robinson, Edge, Missouri

The Cardinals need an identity on defense. Robinson is a big, physical edge rusher who can switch to the inside of the line. He will bull rush you into oblivion, and despite not being the quickest, I thought his best reps were lined up wide.

Grade – B-

We’re at the stage where there are question marks around every prospect. Robinson could get lost as a tweener but he has flashed big-time potential, worth a swing with the Cards’ second 1st rounder.

Chiefs, Kansas City Chiefs 2020

28. Kansas City Chiefs (from Buffalo Bills)

Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas

Has the NFL dropped another clanger? They allow Patrick Mahomes to add the fastest player in the draft to his weaponry. Worthy and Marquise Brown are going to give defenses fits, and it adds another crazy dimension to the best offense in the NFL.

Grade – A

Worthy is more than just a pure speedster. He may be undersized, but he isn’t afraid of contact and runs solid routes. This has the potential to be a blockbuster pick.

Cowboys, Dallas Cowboys 2020

29. Dallas Cowboys (from Detroit Lions)

Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma

Having lost Tyron Smith to free agency, the Cowboys wanted to added offensive line help. Guyton is raw but has the size and quick feet to be a good left tackle of the future. He also allows the Cowboys to keep Tyler Smith at guard.

Grade – C+

An underwhelming Cowboys offseason continues. They grab a position of need but Guyton needs plenty of work to hit his ceiling.

Baltimore Ravens

30. Baltimore Ravens

Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson

Cooper DeJean remained on the board here but perhaps his role would have been too similar to Kyle Hamilton. Instead the Ravens went with the next best pure corner available. Wiggins is slender but excellent in coverage, and has bags of recovery speed.

Grade – B

Wiggins is undersized but it didn’t really show up too much on tape. He adds more juice to a Ravens secondary that has Kyle Hamilton, Marlon Humphrey and now, Wiggins.

49ers, San Francisco 49ers 2020

31. San Francisco 49ers

Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida

Here’s a name that didn’t show up in too many first-round mocks. There are definitely question marks around Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk, so adding a receiver gives them some cover. However, Pearsall was not the name I expected. He is more of a slot, but he is polished, so don’t discount him being a success under Shanahan.

Grade – C+

They needed insurance at the position, but it’s not sexy. He will get schemed open here, so the landing spot might make this pick work in the long run.

Panthers, Carolina Panthers 2020

32. Carolina Panthers (from Buffalo Bills)

Xavier Legette, WR, Texas

One final trade finished the night with some late intrigue. However, it was unsurprising to see Xavier Legette come off the board. Much was made of the Panthers promise to take Legette if he was available, instead they moved up to get him. An older prospect with one-year production is a tricky profile but the flash plays are exciting.

Grade – B-

Bryce Young needs weapons, and Legette is versatile enough to move around the formation and help in multiple ways.

Rory-Joe Daniels


As a long-suffering Cincinnati Bengals fan, Rory has followed the NFL for over 20 years. His passion for the Draft led him to get entangled with college football and he has been writing about prospects and the CFB landscape ever since.