Bold predictions, Rookie of the Year candidates and our favorite picks

Bold predictions, Rookie of the Year candidates and our favorite picks

The 2024 NFL draft brought record-breaking trends, including six quarterbacks picked in Round 1 for the first time since 1983 and eight offensive tackles taken in Round 1, which ties 2008 for the most ever. Now that more than a week has passed since the draft concluded, our NFL experts have had time to assess the class.

We asked our analysts and insiders to answer some of the draft’s biggest questions, diving deep into their favorite picks and the biggest head-scratching selections — some of which didn’t involve quarterback Michael Penix Jr. going to the Atlanta Falcons in the top 10. We also asked them to make their Rookie of the Year picks, fantasy sleepers and bold predictions for the class. Our experts dive in on the top takeaways:

Jump to a topic:Midround picks who could starBest rookies on offense | Best rookies on defenseDraft classes that will make a big impactFavorite picks | Biggest head-scratchers

Give us a bold prediction for a rookie in the 2024 class.

Stephania Bell, fantasy football analyst: Cardinals wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. will pass his father‘s mark of 1,102 receptions (fifth in NFL history) by the end of his career. The talent level is obvious, and Harrison is immediately going to become quarterback Kyler Murray‘s favorite target. Even if he pairs up with a different quarterback as his career progresses, Harrison will be sought out early and often.

Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Bills wide receiver Keon Coleman will lead all rookies in touchdown receptions this season. With quarterback Josh Allen‘s aggressive throwing mentality, Coleman will get opportunities on vertical concepts and inside the red zone. Coleman has the frame (6-foot-3, 213 pounds), plus the playmaking ball skills to cash in here.

Liz Loza, fantasy and sports betting analyst: Giants wide receiver Malik Nabers will lead all rookies in yards per reception this season. A highly productive and consistent downfield target at LSU, Nabers figures to emerge as the Giants’ most leaned-on pass-catcher. He might have an inefficient season due to the issues within the offense and under center, but Naber’s projected volume in tandem with his vertical stretchability figures a 1,000-plus receiving-yard effort.

Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: Caleb Williams will become the NFC’s best quarterback. Williams’ unique collection of talents — from arm strength and field vision to mobility and creative movements — make him one of the most exciting quarterback prospects I’ve ever studied. I won’t put him on par with Mahomes, Allen or Joe Burrow as a pro player, but he has the tools to dominate the NFC for the next decade.

Eric Moody, fantasy and sports betting analyst: Commanders tight end Ben Sinnott will outperform fellow rookie Las Vegas Raiders tight end Brock Bowers. Sinnott boasts an impressive college résumé, having accumulated 1,138 receiving yards and 10 touchdowns at Kansas State, making him one of the most productive tight ends in the program’s history. He’ll be joining forces with 33-year-old Zach Ertz, whose career may be winding down. Meanwhile, Bowers will be battling for targets against 22-year-old Michael Mayer, who was drafted 35th overall in 2023.

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Jason Reid, senior Andscape writer: Wide receiver Xavier Worthy will provide the big-play threat missing from the Chiefs’ offense since Tyreek Hill was traded to the Dolphins. Coach Andy Reid and superstar quarterback Mahomes will have a blast getting the ball to Worthy in space.

Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst: Jets offensive tackle Olu Fashanu will start at some point during the first quarter of the season and keep the job from that point on. Even though the Jets brought in Tyron Smith this offseason, he has struggled to stay healthy. That trend continues and Fashanu takes over, which will just be the beginning of his Pro Bowl-level rookie season.

Aaron Schatz, NFL writer: Eagles linebacker Jalyx Hunt will eventually make a Pro Bowl for the Eagles. There’s a ton of raw talent there, and Hunt is in a good place to develop that talent.

Mike Tannenbaum, NFL front office insider: Worthy will have 10 touchdowns this season. With the help of Worthy’s impending stellar season, the AFC Championship Game will be in Kansas City again as Mahomes gets his best target since Hill’s departure.

Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: Packers offensive tackle Jordan Morgan will rank in the top 10 in pass block win rate in a season and reach the Pro Bowl at some point in his rookie contract. Morgan ranked in the top 10 in pass protection last year and top 20 the year prior, per Pro Football Focus. And the Packers almost always seem to get the most from their offensive linemen to the point where I think it may not be a coincidence.

Field Yates, NFL analyst: Chargers wide receiver Ladd McConkey will lead all rookies in receptions. McConkey landed in such a great spot given the thin receiver depth chart for the Chargers. He has a chance to start right away in an offense with an excellent quarterback in Justin Herbert and his elite route running will lead to plenty of targets.

Which midround pick will have fantasy value in 2024?

Bell: Blake Corum, RB, Los Angeles Rams. Every year coach Sean McVay suggests he’ll offload his primary running back, but that has yet to happen. Still, the selection of Corum in this draft — someone McVay says reminds him of Kyren Williams — hints that this is the year things change. Corum could see action even with a healthy Williams, but a healthy Williams is far from guaranteed, as he has missed double-digit games across his first two years in the league.

Bowen: Malachi Corley, WR, New York Jets. Corley, a slot target for quarterback Aaron Rodgers, has the catch-and-run ability to produce numbers as a rookie. He’s physical and elusive with the ball in his hands, and the Jets can also scheme for him on manufactured touches — screens, fly sweeps and more. Corley is worth a late-round pick in PPR (point per reception) formats.

Mike Clay, fantasy football analyst: Jaylen Wright, RB, Miami Dolphins. Last season, the Dolphins’ running back room easily paced the league in scrimmage yards (2,847), TDs (34) and fantasy points (580). Most of that damage was done by Raheem Mostert (now 32 with a substantial history of missed games) and De’Von Achane (undersized at 5-foot-8, 188 pounds and missed five games as a rookie). Enter the speedy Wright, who has a path to a massive role in an extremely fantasy-friendly environment.

Loza: Corum. Corley and Trey Benson are the obvious picks, but Corum figures to steal touches away from Williams. Corum led Michigan’s run-centric offense to the national championship, shimmying his way past defenders and through holes on the regular. He’s proved that he can handle a large volume of touches and could shine were Williams to be sidelined.

Miller: Trey Benson, RB, Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals have veteran running back James Conner, but Benson’s power and what he brings in the receiving game should get him on the field early and often. He had 20 receptions for 227 yards in 2023.

Moody: Corum. Despite Williams’ 2023 season, when he averaged 21.7 touches and 21.2 fantasy points per game, Corum is poised to have a role in the Rams’ backfield in 2024. Corum should play a significant role to reduce Williams’ workload.


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Jason Reid: Troy Franklin, WR, Denver Broncos. After an impressive season at Oregon (81 receptions, 1,383 yards, 17.1 yards per catch and 14 TDs), Franklin was touted as a potential first-round pick. Although he wound up dropping to the fourth round (102nd pick), he has the size and speed to be an immediate difference-maker in the Broncos’ passing game.

Jordan Reid: Wright. The Dolphins were aggressive in trading up to get Wright, which tells me that they have a distinct plan for him. With a limited number of carries while at Tennessee (368 rushes in three seasons), he enters his pro career with minimal wear and tear on his body. Wright is likely to be a focal point in coach Mike McDaniel’s explosive offense.

Schatz: Kimani Vidal, RB, Los Angeles Chargers. The answer to this question is usually “a running back where the starter ahead of him gets hurt.” Vidal is a very talented back, and ex-Ravens J.K. Dobbins and Gus Edwards seem as likely as anyone else to struggle with injuries (or, in Dobbins’ case, coming back from an Achilles injury).

Tannenbaum: Jonathon Brooks, RB, Carolina Panthers. A priority of new general manager Dan Morgan has been to enhance and improve the surrounding cast of quarterback Bryce Young. I think Brooks has a chance to take a big load off of Young and have a tremendous working year. He likely would’ve been picked earlier than his second-round selection had he not suffered a torn ACL in November.

Walder: Tyrone Tracy Jr., RB, New York Giants. I’m looking for a path to playing time here, and I think Tracy has a nice one. Firstly, he’s competing only with Devin Singletary, Eric Gray and Gary Brightwell, so the bar to becoming the team’s best runner is fairly low. Plus, Tracy has receiving skills — he played wide receiver in his first four collegiate seasons — that can get him on the field, too.

Yates: Benson. Fantasy value does not mean that the player is guaranteed to have a major role starting in Week 1, but I think Benson will make a mark this season in the Cardinals’ backfield. On top of being an explosive runner with very good tackle-forcing ability, he is a useful pass-catcher, too, having averaged more than 11.4 yards per catch in 2023.

Who is your early pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year?

Bell: Jared Verse, DE, Los Angeles Rams. Verse comes ready-made to slot right into the Rams’ front seven. He is talented and powerful, and the Rams’ defense needed an edge rusher who could make an immediate impact. Verse recorded a team-leading 18 sacks and 83 pressures in the past two seasons at Florida State.

Bowen: Byron Murphy II, DT, Seattle Seahawks. Murphy can create backfield chaos as a run-defender, with the interior pass rush traits to impact the pocket. Under Mike Macdonald, who coached a similar player in defensive tackle Justin Madubuike in Baltimore last season, Murphy can be a disruptive force for the Seahawks.

Clay: Terrion Arnold, CB, Detroit Lions. Detroit already has a terrific offense in place, but the defense is on the ascent. That includes a new-look secondary led by first-round pick Arnold and veteran standout Carlton Davis III. Expect this duo to lock down the perimeter this season. Arnold, who had five interceptions at Alabama last season, will be well positioned for a very productive rookie campaign.

Jeremy Fowler, senior NFL reporter: Verse. Laiatu Latu and Dallas Turner got most of the bump as top pass-rushers, but Verse is a unique player with serious power. In the post-Aaron Donald era, Verse could become the face of the Rams’ defense.

Miller: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Philadelphia Eagles. Realistically, either cornerback picked in the top 40 by the Eagles (Mitchell or Cooper DeJean) would be a good selection, but Mitchell’s speed and ball skills make him the favorite. Philly can get after the quarterback, creating good opportunities for Mitchell to grab interceptions on errant passes.

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Moody: Verse. He showcased his talent during his final collegiate season at Florida State, accumulating 41 tackles, nine sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups. There was a gap to fill on the Rams’ defensive line, and Verse was drafted precisely for that purpose. Verse, who is known for his play strength and speed off the edge, is well positioned to step into this role.

Jason Reid: Laiatu Latu, DE, Indianapolis Colts. He is elite in both technique and talent. Latu is equally efficient against the run and at pursuing the passer. The Colts are getting a relentless player who totaled 34 tackles for losses and 23.5 sacks in the past two seasons for UCLA.

Jordan Reid: Dallas Turner, LB, Minnesota Vikings. Playing in Brian Flores’ defense, Turner is a perfect match, as he will likely be used at multiple spots. His first-step burst and continued expansion of his array of pass-rush moves set him up for early success. Expect Turner to be moved around quite a bit and receive many opportunities to make plays in multiple ways.

Schatz: Verse. Four of the past five DPOY awards have gone to edge rushers, and Verse seems likely to get the most playing time of the top three edge rushers from this year’s draft.

Tannenbaum: Turner. Turner will have a lot of pass-rushing opportunities, which I believe he will take advantage of. I thought he should have gone as high as No. 8 to Atlanta because he has the double-digit sack total ability.

Walder: Latu. He was selected as the first defensive player, despite his medical concerns, so I like him even more as the defender to bet on here. Last season, he led the FBS in pressure rate at edge (22%) and in sacks created (17) — which credits the player who first earns pressure on a play that eventually becomes a sack.

Yates: Verse. The Rams needed serious front-seven reinforcements and used the 19th overall pick on the ready-made Verse, whose in-line power and 6-foot-4 length should lead to sack production right out of the gate. Verse is almost 24 years old and is a more refined prospect than many of the other players taken around him in the first round.

Who is your early pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year?

Bell: Caleb Williams, QB, Chicago Bears. Given that I picked the Bears as the rookie class to make the biggest impact in 2024, it stands to reason that the leader of that class will lead the charge and garner the OROY honors. His supporting cast extends well beyond fellow rookie receiver Rome Odunze; veteran pass-catchers such as receivers Keenan Allen and DJ Moore will help showcase Williams’ talent.

Bowen: Williams. Williams is set up in Chicago with proven pass-catchers and explosive play targets. He has the undeniable talent to create as a playmaker outside of the structure, and new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron can keep him on schedule from the pocket with defined reads and play-action throws. I expect Williams to produce high-level numbers — for a playoff team — in his first pro season.

Clay: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Arizona Cardinals. The first non-QB selected in April’s draft, Harrison will immediately step in as a featured target in Arizona’s Kyler Murray-led offense. We’ve seen elite performances from rookie wideouts in recent years (three top-10 fantasy campaigns over the past five seasons), and Harrison has the talent and opportunity to follow in the footsteps of recent award winners at the wide receiver position in Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson.

Fowler: Jayden Daniels, QB, Washington Commanders. This will be a close race with Williams and possibly a receiver such as Harrison, but Daniels is set up for success. Washington has a chance to be sneaky good. Daniels has adequate skill players around him in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Zach Ertz, Brian Robinson Jr. and Austin Ekeler. Some evaluators considered Daniels the most pro-ready quarterback on Day 1. Kliff Kingsbury’s system is good for passing yards, and Daniels will accumulate rushing yards to bolster his case.

Loza: Harrison. He was arguably the most polished player — regardless of position — in this year’s draft. He put up 1,211 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in his final season at Ohio State. His landing spot is prime for production, and he figures to make an immediate impact.

Miller: Xavier Worthy, WR, Kansas City Chiefs. Having Worthy, the fastest player ever tested at the combine, paired with reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback Patrick Mahomes makes Worthy the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year in my book.


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Dan Orlovsky and Dan Graziano disagree with Mike Greenberg about whether the Bills made a mistake by letting the Chiefs draft WR Xavier Worthy.

Moody: Williams. I agree with many of my colleagues here in choosing Williams. A quarterback has won the award in three of the past five seasons. Williams is well positioned for success with Moore and offseason additions Allen and Odunze.

Jason Reid: Williams. The Bears have set up the first overall pick to succeed. With the ninth overall selection, they added the gifted Odunze to a receiving corps that already included veterans in Moore and Allen, and solid tight end Cole Kmet. Productive running back D’Andre Swift also will help the rookie passer thrive.

Jordan Reid: Harrison. Is there a prospect that landed in a better spot? Harrison was WR1 in Arizona as soon as he heard his name called on draft night. Murray is likely going to develop chemistry early on with him, and Harrison will provide him with a true go-to target.

Schatz: Harrison. He’s in the clear best quarterback situation with Murray of the top receivers chosen in this year’s draft and will be Arizona’s No. 1 option.

Tannenbaum: Williams. I believe he has the ability, leadership and poise to guide the Bears to a material improvement in offense and wins. He is going to have to demonstrate rare mental toughness and resilience, as everything he does will be magnified in a city that has been searching for a franchise quarterback.

Walder: Williams. I’m tempted to pick one of the wideouts, but we’ve seen in the past how big an advantage quarterbacks have in this award — Justin Herbert winning the 2020-21 award over Justin Jefferson comes to mind — so I think Williams is the best bet here, especially because he already has a strong supporting cast.

Yates: Harrison. The most pro-ready prospect in the class landed in a perfect spot to play a massive role right away. The Murray-to-Harrison connection should be terrific the second the two are on the field together.

Which rookie class will make the biggest impact this season?

Bell: Chicago Bears. The drafting of Caleb Williams alone is going to make its mark starting in Week 1. The Bears complemented the Williams pick with Rome Odunze, and the two already have chemistry, making their joint transition to the pro level that much easier. The rookies were set up for success with the team’s structuring of the rest of the offense this offseason, and the defense should ensure they stay on the field plenty.

Bowen: Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers drafted two tone-setting starters on the offensive line with left tackle Troy Fautanu and center Zach Frazier in the first and second rounds, respectively, while fourth-round guard Mason McCormick adds depth up front. Wide receiver Roman Wilson brings toughness and big-play juice from the slot, plus linebacker Payton Wilson has three-down traits.

Clay: Washington Commanders. Washington selected franchise quarterback and Week 1 starter Jayden Daniels with the second overall pick and then proceeded to select five players on Day 2. Those selections included defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton and corner Mike Sainristil, who figure to immediately join the defensive rotation, as well as potential Week 1 offensive starters in tight end Ben Sinnott, versatile offensive lineman Brandon Coleman and slot wide receiver Luke McCaffrey.

Fowler: Philadelphia Eagles. There’s no way around it: Philly had a great draft. Cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean signified tremendous value at picks No. 22 and 40, respectively, and will contribute right away. Edge rusher Jalyx Hunt has a big fan in coordinator Vic Fangio. There is big upside. And don’t be surprised when sixth-round receiver Johnny Wilson, a standout at FSU, contributes early.

Miller: Los Angeles Rams. Life after Aaron Donald begins with the 2024 draft class. The Rams selected Jared Verse, Braden Fiske and Tyler Davis to reload upfront. If you’re looking for a year-one impact, Fiske and Verse will be counted on to provide the team’s pass rush and set the culture standard with its former leader now in retirement.

Moody: Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals made significant moves in this draft. They secured two standout players, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and defensive tackle Darius Robinson, who are expected to have an immediate impact. Additionally, the Cardinals addressed their needs in other positions by acquiring cornerbacks Max Melton and Elijah Jones. With these additions, Arizona’s 2024 draft class is poised to make a difference right away.

Jason Reid:Kansas City Chiefs. It’s stunning that the Chiefs maneuvered into the position to pick WR Xavier Worthy at No. 28. They moved up to get a player who was clocked at 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash — the fastest time ever — and he’s the guy quarterback Patrick Mahomes wanted most. Also, don’t be surprised if massive offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia, the 63rd overall pick, is the Chiefs’ Week 1 starter at left tackle.


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Jordan Reid: Steelers. Their first four picks all have pathways to seeing significant snaps early on. Fautanu and Frazier are much-needed plug-and-play starters along the offensive line. Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson are also two prospects who could be key contributors at some point, as both have pro-ready games immediately.

Schatz:Los Angeles Chargers. Joe Alt will be a force as the starting right tackle. Junior Colson will likely wear the green dot as a starting inside linebacker and will lead the team in tackles. Ladd McConkey will be featured as the slot receiver, and either Brenden Rice and/or Cornelius Johnson will get serious playing time despite waiting until the seventh round to be selected.

Tannenbaum: Bears. Pairing the 2022 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Williams up with Odunze, last season’s FBS receiving yards leader, will make Chicago’s offense immediately better, assuming its offensive line can hold up.

Walder: Bears. The obvious answer is also the right one in this case: Chicago walked away from the draft with an elite QB prospect who has a great chance to be an instant upgrade over Justin Fields, along with a top wide receiver in Odunze. A previously mediocre offense suddenly looks dangerous.

Yates: Cardinals. I defined the theme of Arizona’s trade as just checking boxes: The team filled need after need after need with good players. Harrison, Robinson and either Melton or Jones should start, while Trey Benson, Tip Reiman, Isaiah Adams and Dadrion Taylor-Demerson could all have meaningful roles. I was extremely impressed by the haul.

Who was your favorite pick in the entire draft?

Bell: Cornerback Quinyon Mitchell to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 22. When a team fills a need with a standout prospect without breaking the bank to do it, it’s a winner. Mitchell is fast and agile and allowed no touchdowns in over 400 coverage snaps last season. He rose on many draft boards in recent months … and yet, the Eagles were able to surprise the competition by snagging him here.

Bowen: Cornerback Mike Sainristil to the Washington Commanders at No. 50. A nickel corner with a playmaking mentality, Sainristil was one of my favorite defensive backs to study. He led Michigan’s defense last season with six interceptions and seven pass breakups. Look for him to play a disruptive role as a rookie in Dan Quinn’s defensive system.

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Clay: Wide receiver Ladd McConkey to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 34. The Chargers moved on from Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett during the offseason, a foursome responsible for 55% of the team’s targets over the past two seasons. Enter McConkey, who is an excellent fit as a potential Allen replacement in the short-to-intermediate area for quarterback Justin Herbert. Even in a run-heavy offense, McConkey, who came out of Georgia, has a path to massive volume right out of the gate.

Fowler: Wide receiver Malik Nabers to the New York Giants at No. 6. For all the hand-wringing about the Giants’ quarterback outlook, the truth is New York quarterbacks haven’t had a true top-10 receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. Nabers might have the highest ceiling of any offensive player in the draft. Several teams in the top 15 coveted him. Give quarterback Daniel Jones a chance with a guy of this caliber, and see what happens.

Miller: Wide receiver Rome Odunze to the Chicago Bears at No. 9. Let’s give the Bears credit for not overthinking and simply drafting great players. With a rookie quarterback added in Caleb Williams, selecting a go-to receiver for him to learn and grow with was brilliant. It also helps that the two trained together, building chemistry in the pre-draft process. Odunze was my No. 3 overall prospect, which means Chicago drafted two of my top three players in this class.

Moody: Offensive lineman Graham Barton to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 26. As an ex-offensive lineman, it was a pleasure breaking down Barton’s film. He’s consistent and showcases maximum effort on every play without mental errors. Barton can play center, guard or tackle as a rookie, and I believe he’ll have a superior career to some of the names drafted ahead of him.

Jason Reid: Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. I understand everything about the Falcons’ commitment to quarterback Kirk Cousins, the salary cap implications and the potential for strife within the locker room. But if the Falcons are right about Penix, none of that will matter in the long run. If a team believes it has identified a potential transformational player at the most important position in sports, well, it has to go get him. It’s that simple.

Jordan Reid: Edge rusher Dallas Turner to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 17. Minnesota hasn’t drafted an edge rusher in the first two rounds since 2005 (Erasmus James). The team needed to replenish its talent off of the edge after losing Danielle Hunter in free agency. While the team signed Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel during free agency, Turner provides a high upside as a pass-rusher in Brian Flores’ defense. Turner led Alabama with 10 sacks and 45 pressures last season.

Schatz: Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 52. Analytics suggest there is no such thing as a “draft steal” because prospects drop from consensus for good reasons. That being said, Mitchell might have dropped due to off-field concerns, and Colts GM Chris Ballard spoke out against that. This was the No. 5 wide receiver in Playmaker Score but the No. 11 receiver off the board.


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Tannenbaum: Odunze. He has a legitimate chance to be the best receiver from this draft. Under the motto of “win for today and develop for tomorrow,” the Bears have Allen on a one-year deal, and Odunze has Terrell Owens‘ type of ability. Odunze had 1,640 receiving yards and 13 scores in 2023. This is ideal for Chicago.

Walder: Defensive end Laiatu Latu to the Colts at No. 15. Because of medical concerns and the run on offense, the Colts managed to take the edge rusher who led FBS football in pressure rate in each of the past two seasons — yes, ahead of Will Anderson Jr. and Tyree Wilson in 2022 — at No. 15. The Colts might have landed a great one at a premium position in the middle of the first round.

Yates: Odunze. The wideout falling to No. 9 was not a complete surprise, given the anticipated run on quarterbacks early, but it was also not a sure thing. The sixth-highest-rated player on my board could have been the first receiver taken in so many prior drafts, but the presence of Marvin Harrison Jr. and Nabers (the third- and fourth-rated players on my board) made him the third off the board in this class. But don’t be mistaken — Odunze will be an instant impact contributor as one the most polished prospects in the class.

Who was the biggest head-scratching pick of the draft?

Bell: Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. It is hard to justify spending this first-round draft capital when the Falcons had declared their nine-figure love for Kirk Cousins weeks earlier. The team did fulfill defensive needs — its most glaring hole entering the draft — in later rounds, but will the strategy of having two QBs capable of starting create less tension in the locker room … or more?

Bowen: Penix. The Falcons built depth behind Cousins with this selection and set up their QB room for the future. However, I saw this as an opportunity for the Falcons to add an impactful defensive player to new coach Raheem Morris’ system, with outside linebacker Dallas Turner and defensive tackle Byron Murphy II still on the board at the time of Atlanta’s pick.

Fowler: Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 31. I’m not about to doubt coach Kyle Shanahan’s eye for offensive skill players, and I love Pearsall as a player. But his place as WR6 in this draft was unexpected. Most teams I spoke to pegged him as a Day 2 pick. Considering the 49ers still have Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on the roster, bolstering the offensive or defensive line seemed like a sensible play.

Loza: Tight end Brock Bowers to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 13. I was stupefied by the Raiders’ selection of Bowers, and it’s not because of his talent level. He’s a potential generational talent with a do-it-all skill set who was expected to come off the board before the first half of the first round. However, Las Vegas spent an early second-round pick on Michael Mayer just a year ago and entered the draft with holes all along the offensive line. In the end, I suppose, the value Bowers presented was too great to pass on.

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Moody: Quarterback Bo Nix to the Denver Broncos at No. 12. While he posted prolific numbers at Oregon during his final collegiate season, it’s worth noting that nearly 67% of his passes came within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage. Nix’s selection appears to reflect desperation on the part of a Sean Payton-led Broncos team in need of a quarterback upgrade. I felt like Denver could have traded down and still landed Nix.

Jason Reid: Offensive tackle Tyler Guyton to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 29. Look, I get that the Cowboys had a major need along their offensive line. And the fact that they moved to rebuild it in this draft makes sense. That established, Guyton, while possessing impressive physical tools, is a developmental player. There’s no sugarcoating that.

Jordan Reid: Defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro to the Falcons at No. 35. With Jer’Zhan Newton still on the board, it made more sense to take him there. Newton possesses more upside as a rusher and is an ideal interior defender who pairs perfectly with Grady Jarrett. Orhorhoro is unquestionably the better run-defender, but Newton’s combination of explosiveness and disruption would’ve made him the better pick.

Schatz: Penix. Look, I understand the importance of the quarterback position, leading to six quarterbacks chosen in this year’s top 12. You can talk me into the idea that Penix is a better prospect than J.J. McCarthy despite McCarthy doing better in my QBASE projections. But if all goes well, Penix is not going to take a snap in the NFL regular season until he’s 26 years old. The Penix pick isn’t that head-scratching; it’s the Penix pick in conjunction with the Cousins contract.

Walder: Defensive tackle Braden Fiske to the Los Angeles Rams at No. 39. This has little to do with the player and more to do with the circumstances of the pick. The Rams paid an obscene price to move up from No. 52, sacrificing a fifth-round pick and future second-rounder in the process — the most expensive Day 2 overpay in at least the past six drafts and a larger investment than their first-round pick (Jared Verse at No. 19), according to our draft pick valuations. And all this for a player who was at the beginning of his selection range, according to the Draft Day Predictor (in other words, this was a borderline reach).

Yates: Penix. I had a top-of-the-second-round grade on Penix, but quarterbacks always fly off the board earlier than the overall ranks indicate. This is about Atlanta investing in a player who will turn 24 on Wednesday at a position in which only one player will play after paying Cousins $100 million guaranteed in March. One of the great advantages of a quarterback on a rookie contract is the modest cost of his contract, which affords you the ability to spend elsewhere across the roster. The Falcons are not realizing that advantage with Cousins under contract and making $90 million over the first two seasons of Penix’s deal. – NFLRead More