2024 NFL Draft Roundtable: Winners, losers and best available after Round 1

Odzune joins a talented receiver room in Chicago that features D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen.
Odzune joins a talented receiver room in Chicago that features D.J. Moore and Keenan Allen. / Gregory Shamus/GettyImages

It was a wild first round of the 2024 NFL draft. There is a ton to unpack, so our contributors Cole VanWiechen, Dakota Wayne and Chris McGlynn broke down the biggest storylines from Round 1.

Biggest surprise of Round 1

Cole VanWiechen: The Atlanta Falcons chose Michael Penix Jr., QB from Washington, as a succession plan to Kirk Cousins. This was surprising because the Falcons had recently signed Cousins to a $180 million contract with $100 million guaranteed. However, Penix's strong arm and fit for the Falcons' downfield passing offense justified the move in their front office’s mind.

Dakota Wayne: I'm with Cole. Penix leads the way, but to be different, I was really shocked to see Washington really go with Jayden Daniels over Drake Maye.

Chris McGlynn: You both mentioned Penix to the Falcons and rightfully so, but Bowers to the Raiders was a stunner to me. Las Vegas already has Michael Mayer. I'm intrigued to see how the Raiders use Bowers.

Biggest reach

VanWeichen: JC Latham was considered a reach for the Tennessee Titans at pick 7, as he was taken ahead of more highly regarded offensive tackles like Olu Fashanu and Taliese Fuaga. Ricky Pearsall, drafted by the San Francisco 49ers at pick 31, also fits this category. Pearsall is a solid receiver, but there were better options still available at that point, making it a puzzling choice.

Wayne: My vote goes to Laiatu Latu, who landed with the Colts. If he's similar to Leighton Vander Esch, another player with that neck fusion injury Latu suffered at Washington, they won't be happy to have spent that pick on Latu over Dallas Turner.

McGlynn: While I do think Latham was a massive reach, this has to be Chop Robinson for me. Miami certainly had a clear need at edge rusher, they also had needs at defensive tackle and along their offensive line. Jer'Zhan Newton, Graham Barton and Jackson Powers-Johnson were all much higher on my board. Robinson is a project who has a long way to go before he will be a starter.

Best value

VanWiechen: Quinyon Mitchell, the cornerback from Toledo, was a great value pick for the Philadelphia Eagles at pick 22. The Eagles needed to bolster their secondary, and Mitchell's pure speed and coverage skills made him an excellent choice at that point in the draft.

Wayne: Terrion Arnold. I think he is the top corner in the draft, so getting him at 24 is massive. Credit to Detroit for trading up for him.

McGlynn: Mitchell as well for me. The fact that the Eagles stayed put and still took the first corner off the board is ridiculous. Mitchell was a top 15 player and my No. 2 corner. This fills a huge need as well.

Best team fit

VanWiechen: Hard to pick just one. Xavier Worthy, taken by the Kansas City Chiefs at pick 28, is a speedy wideout who aligns well with Patrick Mahomes' big-play style. Worthy fills a need for deep threats, complementing Mahomes' passing abilities. Brian Thomas Jr. fits similarly with the Jacksonville Jaguars at pick 23, adding a strong, physical receiver who can stretch the field for Trevor Lawrence.

Wayne: Caleb Williams, Rome Odunze and Xavier Worthy. I couldn't pick just one either. Caleb and Rome are the best pairing of the draft. Both will carry each other wonderfully. Xavier Worthy will pair wonderfully with the wide receiver-needy Patrick Mahomes as well.

McGlynn: I don't know if there is a pick I liked more in the first round than Troy Fautanu to the Steelers. He is a tough, physical blocker who projects as their long-term answer at left tackle. His rugged style will make him a fan favorite in Pittsburgh.

Best player still available

VanWiechen: Jer’Zhan Newton, the defensive tackle from Illinois, was one of the best players not picked in the first round. His explosive pass-rushing ability and versatility would have made him a valuable addition to any team's defensive front, especially as a strong interior presence.

Wayne: Newton for me as well. I will also mention Oregon center Jackson Powers-Johnson and Georgia wide receiver Ladd McConkey. Both should have been first-round picks.

McGlynn: I am stunned Cooper DeJean is still on the board. He is a great athlete with impressive instincts and great ball skills. I know he was injured late in the year and missed out on the pre-draft hype, but he had a great workout and impressive tape. The Cardinals should stop his fall at No. 35. Adonai Mitchell sliding out of the first round was also a surprise.

Biggest winner

VanWiechen: The Chicago Bears were the biggest winners after the draft, securing Caleb Williams, the top quarterback prospect. This pick gives the Bears a franchise QB with elite playmaking skills. Williams' potential to become a Patrick Mahomes-type player, combined with the Bears' offensive infrastructure, suggests they could have a successful future. Adding to the Chicago's success in the draft, it selected Rome Odunze, the wide receiver from Washington.

Odunze's elite combination of size, route-running and clutch-play ability provide a significant boost to the Bears' offense. With this selection, the Bears created a dynamic receiving corps featuring D.J. Moore, Keenan Allen, and Odunze. This trio gives Chicago a mix of reliable hands, speed, and deep-threat potential. This offensive upgrade complements Williams' playmaking style, further solidifying the Bears as the biggest winners in this draft.

Wayne: Chicago Bears or New England Patriots. The Bears built their offense of the future, and the Patriots had QB2 of this draft drop in their lap at No. 3. The lack of time it took for them to submit the pick for Drake Maye made it clear as to who they believed was the second-best QB.

McGlynn: It's the Bears for me as well. Getting Williams and Odunze without having to trade is a fantastic haul. It's easy to win with two first-round picks, but the Bears knocked this out of the park.

Biggest loser

VanWiechen: The Atlanta Falcons earned the title of biggest loser due to their surprising decision to draft Michael Penix Jr. Despite having Cousins, the Falcons chose to draft a backup QB rather than address pressing defensive needs. This raised questions about the team's direction and missed opportunities to strengthen other areas.

Wayne: The Atlanta Falcons. What the f*@# was that pick at No. 8? Woof.

McGlynn: The San Francisco 49ers. Selecting Ricky Pearsall at 31 was a bit of a surprise and it undercuts their ability to trade Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk for maximum value. I'm not entirely sure what the plan is for San Francisco at this stage. They could keep all three players, but then this just feels like the 49ers passed up better players at positions that were a much more pressing need.