10 Things to Know Before Watching the 2024 NFL Draft

Caleb Williams wears a USC headband while on the sideline with a coach
Screenshot/NFL on YouTube

The 2024 NFL draft is set to begin on April 25 at 8 p.m. EDT, and if you’re like me you’ve watched so much pre-draft analysis that you can’t wait to finally get down to it. For the sake of this article, though, I’m going to presume that you’re not like me. Let’s say you’re a bit more well-adjusted and haven’t been paying a lot of attention, but you’re still planning to tune in and see what happens. For you, I present 10 things to know before watching the 2024 NFL draft.

1. Caleb Williams Will Go Number 1

The first pick in the 2024 NFL draft will be Caleb Williams. If it isn’t, heads will explode everywhere. There was some debate about whether the Chicago Bears would stick and pick or trade out earlier in the year, but since they traded away Justin Fields, everyone expects them to take the pick, and everyone expects it to be Williams.

It’s more likely that the Bears trade the pick (which they will not do) than it is that anyone will take someone other than Caleb with the first pick in this draft. I don’t recommend you bet your life savings on it for a minimal return, but you can basically lock this one in.

2. The Second Pick Is in Question

The Washington Commanders have the second pick in the draft, and everyone expects that they will take a QB as well. Which QB is the matter of more controversy, however. For a long time, the consensus QB2 in this draft class seemed to be Drake Maye, but as more and more evaluators have gotten involved in the pre-draft process, more and more have argued that it should be Jayden Daniels.

Daniels won the Heisman this past year, and there are a lot of things that speak in his favor as a prospect. On the flipside, lots of analysts have started to raise worries about Maye and whether he’s pro-ready.

At the same time, there are those who’ve raised concerns about Daniels. It’s maybe not great if there are highlight reels of you getting tackled! Further, Washington seemed to ruffle some feathers this past week when they brought a number of top prospects in for a visit at the same time. That led to some rumors that Jayden Daniels doesn’t want to go there, even though he’s consistently said he’ll go to whoever drafts him and be happy about it.

The Washington football team desperately needs a QB. They’ve traded away Sam Howell and let Jacoby Brissett walk. As it currently stands, their starter would be Marcus Mariota, who is… not an NFL starter at this point.

So, look for Washington to take a QB with the second pick. If they don’t, things will have gotten really wild really quickly.

3. People Are Expecting Trades, Maybe into the Top Five

Speaking of things getting wild, the third pick is where many think that possibility opens up more significantly. New England, who holds the pick, also needs a QB, but they have so many holes on their team that you can’t rule out the possibility that they trade back. There’s debate about who the QB2 is… so who does NE think the QB2 is? And if Washington takes their guy, will the Patriots suddenly be willing to trade out?

There are three teams with later draft picks who clearly want a QB: Minnesota, Denver, and Las Vegas (who have picks 11, 12, and 13, respectively). Minnesota, in particular, has positioned themselves to trade up in the draft, with a March trade with the Houston Texans to secure a second 1st round pick in this draft. Many think they’re prepared to trade 11, 23 and more to move up to draft the QB they want. But that’s a big cost, and we don’t know for sure who they want.

If New England sticks and picks at 3, we can expect they take a QB. If they don’t, that will again be something that shocks the world. But even if they do, there’s not only the debate between Daniels and Maye I previously referenced, but a recent tendency to put JJ McCarthy into this early round conversation.

Is there a chance that New England takes McCarthy at 3, leaving either Daniels or Maye on the board? Who knows.

Either way, the fourth pick in the draft becomes an interesting spot for a possible trade. It’s currently held by Arizona, and they need a WR, but their GM, Monti Ossenfort, has shown a marked tendency to be willing to trade back in previous drafts. This WR class is deep, so it’s eminently plausible that Arizona could trade back for a haul if someone is willing to offer it for pick 4.

And, if not, the same question applies to the Chargers, who own pick 5. They don’t need a QB, so is someone willing to make them an offer they can’t refuse to move up?

It’s probably worth noting here that Jim Harbaugh was JJ McCarthy’s college coach at Michigan last year, and he’s now with the Chargers, though the idea that this might factor into what the Chargers do will never be anything more than speculation.

4. We Think We Know Who the First WR Drafted Will Be… But Maybe We Don’t?

Everyone who doesn’t mock trades has Arizona as the first team to take a WR, and that’s usually Marvin Harrison Jr. There are some analysts who have Malik Nabers as the WR1 in the class, but Harrison has basically been the consensus WR1 for as long as Caleb has been the consensus QB1. It would be surprising if the son of the Hall of Fame WR of the same name wasn’t the first WR off the board.

But, it’s possible! Nabers has a ton of talent and a different skill set from Harrison, so it could depend on who’s making the pick and what they value.

Either way, everyone expects three WRs to go in the top 10 picks of the 2024 NFL draft, which is pretty wild. For reference, that number last year was zero, when the first WR was taken at pick 20.

What’s particularly striking is that everyone also says that this is an incredibly deep WR class, such that you can get a good guy late in the 1st, in the 2nd, or maybe even in the 3rd. The fact that so many are projecting Harrison, Nabers, and Rome Odunze within the first ten picks nonetheless should really tell us something about how good people think they are.

5. No One Knows What the NY Giants Will Do

The NY Giants have the 6th pick in the draft, and there has been a lot of buzz about them taking a QB. From one point of view, that’s weird, because they just gave Daniel Jones a pretty big contract a year ago and he’s definitely on the team under that contract for 2024.

Yet, Jones didn’t play well in 2023, and while the struggles of the Giants in general may not have been entirely his fault, there is a sentiment that the team is interesting in moving on from him. Lots of people have suggested that they might trade up to draft Maye, or McCarthy, and while I personally think that is super unlikely to happen, we can’t rule it out.

I think the Giants are creating noise to make other teams think they need to trade to get above them (or trade with them) in order to get the QB they want. But, we’ll see! You can’t always expect NFL teams to be rational.

If they stick and pick at 6, the general thought is that they’ll take a WR, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they took a stud offensive lineman even though I don’t think I have seen any analysts at all suggest that. Their line was bad last year!

6. Brock Bowers Is a Wild Card

I have seen at least one mock that had the Giants taking Brock Bowers, who is universally regarded as the best TE in this class. From a production standpoint, Bowers killed it at Georgia. But, he has struggled with some injuries and didn’t test at the combine, so we don’t have those raw athletic numbers on him.

Further, some might worry that Kyle Pitts, who was widely touted as a unicorn in 2021, hasn’t quite lived up to that promise in the NFL.

Some of us might want to make excuses for Pitts based on his landing spot, Arthur Smith, and the injuries he’s dealt with, but beyond that we should recognize that Pitts and Bowers are utterly different players who do not win in the same way. Get beyond the surface, and the comparison really isn’t helpful.

Yet, it is a question as to how high Bowers might go in the draft, and I have no idea how the lack of athletic testing might factor into that when it comes to the decisions being made by NFL GMs.

Honestly, I don’t think anyone has any idea where Bowers will go. Earlier on in the process, some were mocking him as high as to the Chargers at 5. At this point, I’m often seeing him mocked to the Jets at 10. But it also seems like it’s possible that he might fall to the mid or late first round.

That’s still high! For reference, Dalton Kincaid was the first TE off the board in 2023, at pick 25, and Sam LaPorta went in the early 2nd.

No one seems to think Bowers will fall into the 2nd, but I’m not entirely sure we can rule it out. There are so many good offensive lineman in this draft, and mocks tend to have so few defensive players going in the first round that I don’t know if I’d be shocked if Bowers fell to the early 2nd.

7. There Might Only Be One Defensive Player in the Top 10 Picks

Speaking of defensive players, you might not know that there has never been an NFL draft where no defensive players went within the top 10 picks. And, based on the mocks that are out there, this seems like a real possibility in 2024.

There’s only a slim chance of this happening, to be clear. Almost everyone has the Atlanta Falcons going defense at pick 8, and some have Chicago going defense at pick 9, but if we get four QBs and three WRs as many expect… it’s on the table. Certainly at least two offensive lineman will go (Joe Alt and JC Latham), and then there’s Bowers in the mix.

As far as the defensive players go, many regard Dallas Turner (EDGE) as the top prospect, though that may only be because of Laiatu Latu’s medical history. I’ve also seen some argue that Quinyon Mitchell is the best cornerback in the draft and deserves to go this high, but no one seems to think he will because he played college football at Toledo.

8. Watch Out for What the Bears Do at Pick 9

The Chicago Bears have pick 1 in this draft, and EVERYONE expects them to take Caleb Williams. But, that’s a pick they got from a trade last year with the Carolina Panthers. Their own pick is at 9, and there is a big question of what they’ll do there.

As I noted above, there are those who think the Bears will go defense with this pick, but the team’s defense was actually really good in the latter part of the 2023 season (after they traded for Montez Sweat). You could always use more pieces on that side of the ball, sure, just as you could always use another piece on the offensive line (where the Bears also seem pretty solid), so it wouldn’t exactly be surprising to see Chicago fortify what they’ve got in either of those ways. And it also wouldn’t be surprising to see them trade back from 9 to acquire more assets.

But, if Chicago picks at 9, it could be really interesting to see what they do. This offseason, they traded to add Keenan Allen to their receiving core, but many think they won’t be able to pass on someone like Rome Odunze if he’s still on the board at 9.

Personally, I think we might see just an absolutely insane number of trades within the top 10 picks this year, which makes me really excited to tune in on Thursday night to see what happens.

9. Many Think Buffalo Will Trade Up for a WR

A couple of weeks ago, the Buffalo Bills traded Stefon Diggs to the Houston Texans. Whatever the reasons for that, this trade immediately made everyone think that Buffalo needs to draft a WR.

There are good reasons for that! The Bills acquired Curtis Samuel in free agency, but as much as I love Curtis Samuel no one thinks he’s a WR1 for an NFL team. And the Bills also let Gabe Davis go.

So, as it stands, Buffalo has Samuel and Khalil Shakir at WR, and that’s about it (with all respect to the likes of Mack Hollins, Justin Shorter, and Andy Isabella).

Buffalo needs a WR! They might need more than one WR!

So, here’s the question: In a deep WR class, does Buffalo trade for a higher pick, in order to secure someone they think can take over the WR1 in their offense? Or do they perhaps take a late round guy at 28 and perhaps another guy later in the draft?

Again, I love Curtis Samuel, and I love Dalton Kincaid and James Cook. My fantasy teams might love it if the Bills stood pat, but they’re going to draft a WR. The only question is who and where.

10. There Are No Round 1 RBs

Speaking of fantasy teams, almost no one has a single RB in the first round of the 2024 NFL draft. I’ve seen a mock or two that floated the possibility of Dallas taking someone like Jonathon Brooks late in round 1, but pretty much everyone thinks that’s outlandish.

So, in terms of this being a primer for watching the event: if any RB goes in the first round, you should know that it will shock the community of people who have devoted their lives to predicting how this thing will go.

But, probably that won’t happen.

Indeed, there are those who doubt we’ll even see a RB come off the board on Day 2, though I find that hard to believe. It may be a “weak running back class” but there are a few teams with glaring needs at the position.

The Dallas Cowboys currently have Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn and Royce Freeman. The Chargers just signed JK Dobbins to add to the room with Gus Edwards. And the Tampa Bay Buccaneers currently have Rachaad White (who isn’t very good) backed up by the likes of Chase Edmonds (who you might be surprised to learn is still in the league).

Beyond this, there are frequently surprises at the RB position, like Seattle taking Zach Charbonnet last year when they already had Ken Walker. So, who knows what anyone what might do when it comes down to it.

Most mock drafts only go through Round 1, as things become even more unpredictable after that, but I’ll be fascinated to see where the top RBs go and how that effects our perceptions of NFL rosters. This might be the most intriguing thing to watch for on Friday.

Written by Caemeron Crain

Caemeron Crain is Executive Editor of TV Obsessive. He struggles with authority, including his own.

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