Skip to main content

The First Read: Winners and losers from Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft

The major question before the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft started was whether we would see teams going crazy for quarterbacks. Well, it didn't take long to find an answer to that one. The idea of "crazy" was four quarterbacks possibly going in the first five picks, which is something that had never happened. We ended up with six being selected in the first 12 picks, which set a new record in the common-draft era.

To understand how wild this first round was, just consider that the last time six QBs were chosen in Round 1 of a draft, in 1983, the sixth QB didn't come off the board until pick No. 27. This tells you how desperate franchises are to find signal-callers and how much over-drafting has become an accepted practice at this position. We all expected certain players to go in the top 10, namely USC's Caleb Williams, LSU's Jayden Daniels, North Carolina's Drake Maye and Michigan's J.J. McCarthy. It was far more stunning to see Washington's Michael Penix Jr. land in Atlanta with the eighth overall pick and Oregon's Bo Nix go to Denver at No. 12.

That's also why this year's first round was so entertaining so early. It represented the urgency that plenty of franchises feel to improve under center when the league is filled with talented young quarterbacks. The clock is now ticking on this current group.

As for the other moves that were made on Thursday, here is The First Read's take on the winners and losers in this year's first round ...


1) Ryan Poles, GM, Chicago Bears: Poles came into this draft armed with the ammunition to significantly alter this long-struggling franchise. He wound up doing exactly what he had to do in the first round to move closer to that goal. The first overall pick was a no-brainer, as we've all figured that would be USC quarterback Caleb Williams for months. Poles used his second first-round pick, the ninth overall, on Washington wide receiver Rome Odunze, who will be yet another weapon for Williams. The GM now can drop Williams into the ideal scenario for a young QB. The Bears have a viable supporting cast on their vastly improved offense -- a group that includes running back D'Andre Swift, tight end Cole Kmet and wide receivers DJ Moore and Keenan Allen -- and a defense that made significant strides in the second half of last season. To be honest, it's difficult to see how Poles could have blown this, given how well everything was set up. Now that the first round is over, it's fun to think about how much better the Bears can be if Williams is a legitimate difference-maker in Year 1.

2) Daniel Jones, QB, New York Giants: Everything was in place for the Giants to find a replacement for Jones. Instead, they gave him a huge vote of confidence by selecting LSU wide receiver Malik Nabers with the sixth overall pick. It's a bit surprising, given how much buzz there was around the idea of Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy winding up in New York, but Giants general manager Joe Schoen and head coach Brian Daboll clearly decided that Jones was not the team's biggest problem. Jones enters his sixth pro season with the knowledge that he has more help around him than ever before. The Giants invested heavily in the offensive line earlier this offseason, with the additions of guards Aaron Stinnie, Jon Runyan and Austin Schlottmann. They'll ask Devin Singletary to compensate for the loss of running back Saquon Barkley in free agency. Now, they have Nabers -- thought by some observers to be the best wide receiver in this class -- coming into the building. This means there are no more excuses for Jones, who has battled injuries throughout his career and missed 11 games last season because of a torn ACL in his right knee. We'll find out real soon if the team was correct to place its faith in him.

3) Kwesi Adofo-Mensah, GM, Minnesota Vikings: Most people expected Adofo-Mensah to make an aggressive trade in the first round, given that the Vikings had the 11th and 23rd overall selections and a clear need for a quarterback. What Adofo-Mensah obviously didn't want to do was pay too high a price to move into the top five to fill that need. Give him credit for staying patient on that one. Adofo-Mensah only had to surrender fourth- and fifth-round picks to the Jets to jump into the 10th overall spot and take J.J. McCarthy. The Vikings also received a sixth-round selection as part of the deal, but the critical element was Minnesota holding on to that second first-round pick. McCarthy projects as a quarterback who needs to sit for a season to truly maximize his potential. That meant the Vikings had to find somebody who could make an impact this fall, and the Vikings are surely hoping Alabama edge rusher Dallas Turner becomes that player. Adofo-Mensah traded up to the 17th overall spot to grab him (in exchange for pick No. 23, another fifth-round pick and third- and fourth-round picks in the 2025 draft) because the Vikings need more pass rushers following the departure of Danielle Hunter in free agency. This wasn't exactly how some analysts drew it up for the Vikings. The result was still pretty impressive.

4) Vic Fangio, DC, Philadelphia Eagles: The Eagles' secondary was a hot mess last season. They addressed part of the problem by hiring Fangio and bringing back safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson in free agency. The next bit of good news came on Thursday night, when Toledo cornerback Quinyon Mitchell became the 22nd overall pick in the draft. Mitchell is exactly the kind of talent that Fangio covets in his system, and it was fortuitous that he was still available at that point of the first round. Mitchell combines good size (6-foot, 195 pounds) with exceptional speed (4.33-second 40-yard dash) and coverage skills. The Eagles are hoping to squeeze a little more out of aging veterans James Bradberry and Darius Slay, and the return of Avonte Maddox from injury will help, as well. But adding Mitchell puts Fangio in position to do a lot more with this defense. The Eagles got a lot better on that side of the ball on Thursday.

5) Trevor Lawrence, QB, Jacksonville Jaguars: Like Jones, Lawrence had to be pleased with the way the first round played out for his team. The Jaguars landed LSU wide receiver Brian Thomas Jr. with the 23rd overall pick after trading back, which gives Lawrence yet another reason to believe he'll elevate his game this year. Along with drafting Thomas, the Jaguars signed wide receiver Gabe Davis in free agency and still have Christian Kirk in the fold. That's a nice trio for Lawrence to work with at a time when he'll be looking to validate a potentially massive contract extension in the near future. He's been a good quarterback through his first three NFL seasons, but not at the level of the other young signal-callers that define this generation, men like Patrick Mahomes, Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert. Lawrence clearly has the ability to join that group. Adding a talent like Thomas -- who has exceptional length, breathtaking speed and reliable hands -- should help his cause immensely.


1) Atlanta Falcons defense: The most stunning move of the first round was Atlanta's selection of Michael Penix Jr. at No. 8 overall. No disrespect to Penix, who clearly was more impressive than anybody realized heading into this draft, but it's hard to understand how the Falcons could use a top-10 pick on a quarterback after giving Kirk Cousins $100 million in guaranteed money earlier this offseason. Atlanta seemed hellbent on making a huge push to win the NFC South this fall -- but that's going to be difficult to do without additional help for a defense that has been desperate for pass rushers. So the unit earns a spot here even over Cousins, whose agent called the move "a big surprise" in a comment to NFL Network Insider Mike Garafolo. GM Terry Fontenot could've taken Dallas Turner, who was pretty widely considered the best defensive player in this class. He could've taken UCLA edge rusher Laiatu Latu, who actually became the first defensive player selected when Indianapolis grabbed him with the 15th overall pick. There are still plenty of picks left in his draft, including seven belonging to Atlanta, so maybe the Falcons have their eyes on other prospects. However, it can't be denied that Penix probably won't help this team for at least a year or two, and that could be the difference between Atlanta making or missing the playoffs this season.

2) Antonio Pierce, HC, Las Vegas Raiders: Pierce moves into Day 2 of the draft still not knowing who his quarterback of the future will be. There was some smoke in the media about the Raiders making an aggressive trade to move up for Jayden Daniels, but that never seemed like anything more than folly. Penix landing in Vegas at No. 13 overall made a lot more sense, but the Falcons ultimately ruined that possibility. So, we have to assume Las Vegas GM Tom Telesco will use a Day 2 pick on a quarterback while praying that Gardner Minshew or second-year pro Aidan O'Connell can be productive as a bridge signal-caller. The upside here is that Telesco did nab a difference-maker with the 13th pick, as Georgia tight end Brock Bowers is a straight baller. The big question, of course, is whether the Raiders will be able to maximize his potential with their quarterback play.

3) Dallas Turner, edge, Minnesota Vikings: As the 17th player taken, Turner clearly waited a lot longer to hear his name called than most of us expected. Again, it would have made plenty of sense for him to go to Atlanta with the eighth overall selection. It was even a surprise to hear him not be the player Indianapolis liked at No. 15, where the Colts selected Latu. The bottom line is, Turner will end up with considerably less cash than he would have earned going nine slots earlier. Some of this had to do with offensive players dominating the first half of the draft, but the upside is that Turner lands with a defensive coordinator (Brian Flores) who will be extremely creative in utilizing him.

4) Josh Allen, QB, Buffalo Bills: Allen sorely needs a wide receiver, but GM Brandon Beane either wasn't crazy about his options in the first round or saw more value in compiling more picks. The Bills traded back twice on Thursday, first with the Chiefs (who drafted Texas wide receiver Xavier Worthy at No. 28 overall) and again with the Panthers (who selected South Carolina wide receiver Xavier Legette at No. 32 overall). Yes, this is a deep draft at wide receiver. It's also likely the Bills will find more help at that position in the coming days. But for a team that just traded Stefon Diggs to Houston -- and doesn't have a true No. 1 on the roster -- this wasn't a great look to end the night.

Related Content