2024 NFL Draft First Round Takeaways: Falcons Stun Everyone, Vikings Get Aggressive, and Corners Go Late

Michael Penix Jr. became the highest drafted Washington QB since Jake Locker in 2010.
Michael Penix Jr. became the highest drafted Washington QB since Jake Locker in 2010. / Jonathan Bachman/GettyImages
1 of 2

Round 1 is in the books! It started out as a fairly quiet night and then ramped up very quickly into utter chaos. There is plenty more draft to come, but here are my biggest takeaways from Thursday night.

Falcons shock everyone by taking Michael Penix Jr.
I don't think anyone saw this coming. It was uncertain if Penix Jr. would go in the first round, let alone the top 10, ahead of J.J. McCarthy as well. The Falcons spent a lot to bring in Kirk Cousins this offseason. To take a quarterback with a top-10 pick despite having clear needs on defense is a stunner. This definitely casts some doubt on how long Cousins will be in Atlanta. Cousins was reportedly informed of the decision while the team was on the clock, so very little heads-up. What is even more interesting is that Penix Jr. is not exactly a young, developmental quarterback. He turns 24 in two weeks and has a long injury history. Don't get me wrong, I love Penix. I had him going No. 7 to the Raiders after a trade-up in my final mock draft. It is just a surprising pairing for a team that seemed to be going all in around Cousins for 2024.

Patriots, Cardinals, Chargers and Giants all stay put
For weeks, there was buzz about trades involving picks No. 3 through No. 6. Instead of wild wheeling and dealing, like we saw last year, we didn't have a trade until No. 10 overall, which was the Jets moving back just one spot. The Patriots elected for a quarterback of the future, the Cardinals made the obvious pick in Marvin Harrison Jr., Jim Harbaugh got his mauler in Joe Alt and the Giants found an explosive receiver. All the potential chaos turned out to be nothing and it wound up being a good night for mock drafters who opted against including trades.

Six quarterbacks go in the top 12
The quarterbacks were always going to be the talk of this draft class, but this was insane. J.J. McCarthy was the fifth quarterback taken at No. 10 to the Vikings, making it the fastest that five quarterbacks came off the board, beating the record set in 2021. Then the Broncos got their guy in Bo Nix, making it easily the fastest we have had six quarterbacks selected. It tied the record for most quarterbacks drafted in the first round of any draft, matching the famed 1983 quarterback class. Dan Marino was the sixth quarterback taken that year at No. 27 overall. Clearly, the league was high on this quarterback group and desperate to land them.

Raiders go off script with Brock Bowers
Six quarterbacks going off the board before the Raiders picked at No. 13 was a surprise. So was what Las Vegas did next. Drafting Bowers in a vacuum makes a ton of sense. He is an elite playmaker who can provide a boost in the run game as well. However, the Raiders have needs along the offensive line and in the secondary. They also have a talented young tight end in Michael Mayer already. What this points to is a lot of two-tight ends sets or simply moving Bowers around like a chess piece to create mismatches. Gardner Minshew or Aiden O'Connell should be in a fun offense featuring Bowers, Mayer and Davante Adams.