Grading every first-round pick in the 2024 NFL Draft: Falcons bomb, Vikings and Chiefs score

  • Falcons make a historically shocking Top 10 pick
  • Broncos only made better by the Falcons before them
  • Vikings, Bears, Chiefs hit home runs
Falcons QB Michael Penix Jr.
Falcons QB Michael Penix Jr. / Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Pencils down, hand in your papers and let me grade your 2024 NFL Draft -- or at least the first-round picks that we saw on Thursday night in Detroit!

We expected craziness in the first 32 selections of the 2024 NFL Draft, but even then, what we got in the first round was wildly surprising. Everyone assumed the Michael Penix Jr.-Atlanta Falcons buzz was just a weird smokescreen or trade value booster. Turns out, it was for real. We saw a record number of quarterbacks taken in the first round, and all of them went in the Top 12! That's also just the tip of the iceberg.

But how did your team fare in the first round? We're handing out full 2024 NFL Draft grades and analysis for all 32 picks, which we've divided into tiers. Let's get into it!

NFL Draft Grades 2024: Bears, Vikings, Eagles hit home runs (A+ picks)

1. Chicago Bears: Caleb Williams, QB, USC | Grade: A+

There's honestly not a ton to say here. We knew that Caleb Williams was going to be the first overall pick for a long, long time. It became the reality for the Chicago Bears to begin the draft and now a new era begins. This is a franchise-changing talent at the most important position on the field. It's going to pay dividends immediately and for years to come in the Windy City -- which is especially true with the other first-round pick that the Bears made.

4. Arizona Cardinals: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Ohio State | Grade: A+

Will they or won't they seemed to be the refrain for the Arizona Cardinals regarding the possibility of trading out of the No. 4 pick. Ultimately, the trades at the top of the draft that we thought could happen didn't, and Arizona stood pat to take the second-best overall player in the draft. Marvin Harrison Jr. gives Kyler Murray an alpha pass-catcher in this offense and from Day 1 will change the dynamics and the ceiling of what this team could be, elevating them to being a playoff sleeper based on the fire they showed with a far more barren roster once Murray returned at the end of 2023.

9. Chicago Bears: Rome Odunze, WR, Washington | Grade: A+

Some people might push back on the idea of the Bears drafting a wide receiver in the Top 10 after expending draft capital -- albeit a minor amount -- to trade for Keenan Allen. But Rome Odunze is a future star and Allen is a short-term fix. The Washington product checks every box and would be WR1 in classes that don't include Marvin Harrison Jr. and Malik Nabers. So adding that around Williams sets the Bears up for years of success.

16. Seattle Seahawks: Byron Murphy II, DL, Texas | Grade: A+

Just a home run hit by John Schneider and the Seahawks to get Byron Murphy II at No. 16. Seattle certainly benefitted from the fall of every defensive player in the draft but they didn't miss their opportunity. Murphy is the type of interior penetrator that this defense has lacked for a long, long time and should be able to step on the field immediately and create disruption up the middle. Not having to move from the middle of the first round to land this type of player is akin to striking gold.

17. Minnesota Vikings: Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama | Grade: A+

I've already seen some people questioning Kwesi Adofo-Mensah's value of draft trades and there's certainly merit to that. But in what world were the Vikings expecting Dallas Turner to be on the board at No. 17? Bringing in this type of speed rusher to put in opposite of Jonathan Greenard and with rotational players like Andrew Van Ginkel behind him could do wonders for Brian Flores' defense and sets Minnesota up to make a real push to challenge in the NFC North the first year after losing Kirk Cousins.

22. Philadelphia Eagles: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo | Grade: A+

It's getting almost unbelievable how fortunate Howie Roseman and the Philadelphia Eagles have gotten in the draft over recent years. There were a lot of mock drafts that had this franchise trading up to No. 12 in order to get Quinyon Mitchell. Instead, they trade nothing and still get the top cornerback in the class. Mitchell is exactly what Philly's defense needs, too, a sticky cover corner who can be the long-term replacement for Darius Slay and a player who makes an impact rotationally right away.

24. Detroit Lions: Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama | Grade: A+

Another beneficiary of the cornerbacks slipping down the board, the Detroit Lions gave the hometown draft crowd some excitement moving up with Dallas to land Terrion Arnold. The Alabama cornerback product isn't as toolsy as some other players in this class, but he's a high IQ, adequate athlete who just has a knack for making plays and using his footwork and smart hands to frustrate opposing receivers. He has a mentality and approach Dan Campbell should love and he fills the biggest need of this defense.

NFL Draft Grades 2024: Falcons, Broncos whiffs (C+ or Lower)

8. Atlanta Falcons: Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington | Grade: F

What are we doing, Falcons? You just gave Kirk Cousins a monster contract that still has dead money on the deal in year three and then draft a 24-year-old quarterback to sit behind him in the Top 10? This makes absolutely no sense no matter how you truly try to justify it. Even for a quarterback-needy team, taking Penix at No. 8 would not have been graded favorably based on my evaluation of the Washington prospect, even if I do like him to some degree. But for the Falcons that didn't need to address the position, it's non-hyperbolically one of the biggest draft mistakes in history.

12. Denver Broncos: Bo Nix, QB, Oregon | Grade: D

Sean Payton and the Denver Broncos should send Terry Fontenot and the Falcons an Edible Arrangement or something for taking Penix. Had that not happened, this team seemingly panic-picking Bo Nix with the 12th overall selection would easily be the worst pick of the night. Nix is not a first-round prospect and all of the things that Payton and the Denver brass gushed over were a product of the Oregon offense being catered to QB success. That's not to say they can't do that somewhat with the Broncos, but it's much more difficult in the NFL and Nix hasn't shown the tools I believe are necessary to be a high-level starter at the pro level.

13. Las Vegas Raiders: Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia | Grade: C

This is very much not about the player as Brock Bowers has been a Top 10 lock on my big board for as long as I can remember evaluating this class. But after getting boxed out of the quarterback market, it almost felt like the Raiders were stuck on auto-draft in a fantasy football draft. This is a franchise that took Michael Mayer in the second round last year and should be looking for building blocks if they can't find a quarterback. Bowers always felt like a pseudo-luxury piece for a contender, and the Raiders being so far from that makes it hard to see this selection favorably.

21. Miami Dolphins: Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State | Grade: C+

When the Miami Dolphins came on the clock, Graham Barton and Jordan Morgan were both still available. So instead of addressing a perpetual weakness for a team, they took an edge rusher. That's not to say this isn't a need for the Dolphins, especially after losing Christian Wilkins, but taking this edge rusher is. The ceiling for Chop Robinson is sky high, however, he's still raw right now and relying very largerly on his athletic gifts to win. That won't cut it in the NFL and, though it might work out, it's incurring too much risk at a position that shouldn't have been considered the priority for Miami.

31. San Francisco 49ers: Ricky Pearsall, WR, Florida | Grade: C+

As it's starting to look more and more like the San Francisco 49ers might trade either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk, this pick makes more sense. The problem is, however, as much as I like Ricky Pearsall and think he'll be a contributing NFL player for a long time, there were better receivers on the board at the No. 31 pick. Leaving guys like AD Mitchell, Troy Franklin or even a Roman Wilson on the table is a bit puzzling to me. Then again, maybe I should just resign myself to never agreeing with how the 49ers choose to draft.

NFL Draft Grades 2024: Patriots, Chiefs earn high marks (A Grades)

3. New England Patriots: Drake Maye, QB, North Carolina | Grade: A

Make no mistake, getting Drake Maye as the third QB off of the board is a huge win for the New England Patriots. He's the type of quarterback with the talent to really change the fortunes of what the post-Belichick era is going to look like. The only thing I'm considering here is the possibility of trading back. This Patriots roster is lacking in so many spots that I do wonder if taking a lesser quarterback instead of Maye could've benefitted them long term. Even still, I love the pick overall.

6. New York Giants: Malik Nabers, WR, LSU | Grade: A

I've said over the past several weeks that I'm in the camp that Malik Nabers is closer to Marvin Harrison Jr. than some people would like to admit. So getting that player into a Giants pass-catching corps that has (maybe) Darren Waller and a lot of WR3 types is a massive win. The only reason this doesn't reach A+ territory for me is the sentiment behind this pick with J.J. McCarthy and Michael Penix Jr. still on the board. It's a show of faith in Daniel Jones and, frankly, I'm not with New York on that one as Danny Dimes is nothing but Daniel Nickels in my eyes.

10. Minnesota Vikings: J.J. McCarthy, QB, Michigan | Grade: A

The Vikings moving up one spot to swap picks with the Jets and protect from getting jumped for J.J. McCarthy was probably a necessary move for them, but it's the only reason that this isn't at the top of these grades as an A+. This is the perfect landing spot for the inexperienced but highly talented and intangible-laden Michigan quarterback. The offensive line and weapons are readymade to compete and Kevin O'Connell knows how to ease QBs along at the necessary pace. It's an ideal spot for McCarthy's potential to be realized and maximized, and a huge victory for the Vikings' future.

14. New Orleans Saints: Taliese Fuaga, OT, Oregon State | Grade: A

With concerns about both current projected New Orleans Saints offensie tackles -- Trevor Penning due to underperformance, Ryan Ramczyk due to long-term injury concerns and potential retirement as a result -- this was an obvious pick. I believe Taliese Fuaga fits seamlessly into what the Saints are looking for in a tackle, a muddy, tough mauler who will just beat defenders into the turf. It's not sexy and perhaps even penalizing that minimally by withholding the "+" from the grade is too harsy, but it shouldn't dampen the mood in the Big Easy about this selection.

18. Cincinnati Bengals: Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia | Grade: A

Especially with the Trey Hendrickson trade request, you do have to wonder if the Vikings had intel that the Cincinnati Bengals were going to take Dallas Turner, which is why they traded up to No. 17 to take the pass rusher. Even still, the Bengals didn't panic and still filled a big hole. With the uncertainty on the offensive tackle side of things outside of Orlando Brown Jr., the freakish Amarius Mims is a great pickup, though there is some risk. His lack of experience is a concern, but it's a risk worth taking if you're Cincy.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers: Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington | Grade: A

Troy Fautanu should be a perfect fit into what the Pittsburgh Steelers are trying to reshape on the offensive line. He has some inside-out positional versatilty but seems most likely to pair with last year's first-round pick, Broderick Jones, at tackle. That's a great, butt-kicking tandem at the bookends. My only gripe is that I might've preferred the Steelers taking Graham Barton at this spot, but even then, the value with Fautanu falling to No. 20 still might've been too great for Omar Khan to pass up.

26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Graham Barton, IOL, Duke | Grade: A

Speaking of Graham Barton, this was another big win for Jason Licht. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers hitched their wagon to Baker Mayfield for the near future with a big contract this offseason, so protecting that investment is key. So after losing Ryan Jensen, replacing him with a phenomenal player on the interior like the Duke product makes all the sense in the world. Once again, my only minor complaint would be maybe that it's not sexy, but it's still a selection that very blatantly makes the Bucs a better team.

28. Kansas City Chiefs: Xavier Worthy, WR, Texas | Grade: A

With some of the pre-draft buzz (which turned out to be smoke), Xavier Worthy falling to the Chiefs seemed unlikely going into the draft. But with a trade up (with the Bills, no less) later, and here is the fastest man in NFL Combine history now working with Patrick Mahomes. Trading up is just slightly too aggressive for my taste as I have some concerns about Worthy's frame holding up in the NFL, but there's not a more perfect landing spot for the Texas product than this. And let's just be real, we love fun, and this is damn fun to consider the possibilities.

NFL Draft Grades 2024: Commanders, Raiders, Packers stay solid (B Grades)

2. Washington Commanders: Jayden Daniels, QB, LSU | Grade: B-

There is absolutely a world wherein Jayden Daniels is a multi-time Pro Bowler and leads the Washington Commanders to a ton of team success. His big-play ability with his arm and legs is obvious and he could provide that under OC Kliff Kingsbury. But he has obvious shortcomings, most notably his short and middle-field accuracy along with a slight-ish frame that could open him up to injuries when he's on the move. Most importantly, I just don't think I can fully justify taking him, especially at 24 years old, over Drake Maye. I don't hate it entirely, but I definitely don't love it.

7. Tennessee Titans: JC Latham, OT, Alabama | Grade: B+

We heard leading up to Thursday night that the NFL was just plain higher on JC Latham than a lot of the draft community appeared to be, and that definitely turned out to be true. The Tennessee Titans simply had to draft a lineman to get an adequate look at what Will Levis is and give themselves a building block. Yet, Latham doesn't have any experience on the left side at tackle, which raises some questions. Bill Callahan could work his magic as the O-line coach, but that question mark keeps this out of the A range.

15. Indianapolis Colts: Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA | Grade: B

A lot about this pick for the Indianapolis Colts feels like just the way that the board fell. But maybe trade back? Maybe look at Brian Thomas Jr.? I like Laiatu Latu a ton and the Colts needed to beef up the pass rush on the edge, especially with the returns on Kwity Paye being marginal to this point. At the same time, it felt like a bit of a reach and he also wasn't my top edge rusher in this class, which is what he was drafted as in this spot.

19. Los Angeles Rams: Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State | Grade: B+

It was honestly difficult for the Los Angeles Rams to screw up the No. 19 pick as long as they didn't use their first first-rounder in nearly a decade to do something ludicrous like take a wide receiver. Jared Verse should come into the building and be ready to contribute double-digit sacks and give this team an edge presence that could truly be great after losing Aaron Donald. At the same time, passing on Troy Fautanu with some serious needs on that offensive line is too much for me to fully get behind.

25. Green Bay Packers: Jordan Morgan, OT, Arizona | Grade: B+

Jordan Morgan isn't my favorite prospect. Honestly, had he been a first-round pick for a lot of other teams in the league, I'm looking at this as probably a C+. But for the Green Bay Packers, I think this makes a ton of sense. The Packers have done great developing from athletic profiles, which Morgan clearly has, and he offers a bit of guard/tackle versatility to help Green Bay get their best five on the field, and we've seen them shuffle to do that plenty. Again, not my cup of tea as a player, but I like him probably most on the Pack.

27. Arizona Cardinals: Darius Robinson, EDGE, Missouri | Grade: B

This is another player who I'm not that high on and certainly not as high as it seemed over the past few weeks that the NFL is. Darius Robinson comes off to me as a tweener who is solid but not great whether he's on the edge or the interior. Having said that, this is another fit I can get behind. I think Jonathan Gannon getting a move piece on a proverbial blank canvas defense could make a ton of sense to try and get some juice into this defense.

29. Dallas Cowboys: Tyler Guyton, OT, Oklahoma | Grade: B+

You could almost copy and paste what I said about the Packers and Morgan to this spot here. Tyler Guyton's film doesn't inspire me all that much, but the tools and upside are readily apparent. We've seen the Dallas Cowboys take projects and make them into something more than just passable, even recently with players like Terence Steele or Tyler Smith. Guyton might be a bit more raw than those players, but you can see a world where it works out. And trading back to take him instead of using No. 24 makes it better as well.

NFL Draft Grades 2024: Jets, Ravens in best of the rest (A- Grades)

11. New York Jets: Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State | Grade: A-

Consider me quite happy that the New York Jets didn't try to get too cute with the all-in approach around Aaron Rodgers. Offensive line was the bigger long-term need and Olu Fashanu is a great answer. Having said that, there could've been a world wherein they had the best of both worlds in helping the immediate and the future. Fashanu could do that, but I'm not sure that Taliese Fuaga or Troy Fautanu wouldn't offer more certainty in the 2024 season as Fashanu's final year of Penn State showed a bigger need for technical development than previously expected.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars: Brian Thomas Jr., WR, LSU | Grade: A-

No pick has me more torn on how to evaluate it than the Jacksonville Jaguars landing WR4 in this class, Brian Thomas Jr. On one hand, they are clearly trying to give Trevor Lawrence possible and they get a potential top wide receiver to eventually usurp Christian Kirk in the hierarchy. At the same time, passing on a Terrion Arnold or not looking elsewhere is not what I would've done in this spot. Even still, trading down to get him still kicks the Jags into the A range ultimately, even with that little minus attached.

30. Baltimore Ravens: Nate Wiggins, CB, Clemson | Grade: A-

More so than possibly any cornerback in this class -- or at least in the Top 50 picks -- so much of Nate Wiggins for me was about landing spot. The Baltimore Ravens are about as good as it could get. This is a franchise that loves their secondary to cover and be put on an island. Wiggins can do that seamlessly. The only reason we have the minus attached the A grade is simply the Clemson product's slight frame that still leaves me quite worried about his ability to hold up physically and tackle in the NFL.

32. Carolina Panthers: Xavier Legette, WR, South Carolina | Grade: A-

Trading up one pick into the first round might seem a bit odd, but with the way wide receiver contracts are trending, getting that fifth-year option is becoming more enticing. As for Xavier Legette, he's easily the best receiver on the Carolina Panthers roster after this pick, so that's exactly what they needed to get Bryce Young. I would've preferred AD Mitchell or Ladd McConkey in this spot for the Panthers, but Legette is still a surefire upgrade for this team.

Next. Ranking the 6 QBs drafted in first round by their landing spots. Ranking the 6 QBs drafted in first round by their landing spots. dark