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NFL Draft Winners and Blunders

Logos of some of the teams featured in article, with checks or x’s. Photo credit: Connor Larson

As the 2024 NFL Draft has concluded, some teams emerge with players that will forever change their franchise, while others face the scrutiny of their fans for making head-scratching decisions. Here are three teams that I think won the draft and three teams that I think lost the draft.

If you missed our mock draft podcast episode to see how we would’ve drafted the first round click here.

Draft Winners

Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears held the number one and nine overall picks in this year’s draft, selecting 2022 Heisman Trophy winner quarterback Caleb Williams out of USC. Williams was the favorite to go first overall with his elite arm and ability to extend plays with his legs and arm.

At the ninth pick, Chicago selected Rome Odunze, a wide receiver from Washington.

The Bears have spent this offseason building an almost perfect situation for their new quarterback, trading for wide receiver Keenan Allen from the Los Angeles Chargers, signing running back D’Andre Swift, and now, with the addition of Odunze in the draft. The Bears have surrounded Caleb Williams with all the talent he could need to succeed in the NFL.

Williams said in a post-draft interview, “My last goal is immortality. The only way to reach that is winning championships.”

Minnesota Vikings

The Minnesota Vikings, with their eyes set on the future, made strategic moves in the draft. Holding the 11th and 23rd overall picks, they resisted the temptation to trade up and instead selected Michigan quarterback J.J. McCarthy at pick 11. With their second first-round pick, they traded up with the Jacksonville Jaguars from the 23rd pick to the 17th overall pick, which they used to select Dallas Turner from Alabama.

The McCarthy fit with the Vikings is one of my favorites in the entire draft. This pairing of McCarthy in Minnesota has the potential to be amazing.

Kevin O’Connell is a tremendous offensive head coach who will devise an offense that fits McCarthy’s skill set. McCarthy also enters an offense with the best wide receiver in the NFL, Justin Jefferson, and other weapons on offense, such as Jordan Addison and T.J. Hockenson. McCarthy will most likely sit his first season behind quarterback Sam Darnold, who was signed to a 1-year deal in March.

The selection of Turner on defense should give them a go-to pass rusher for years to come, something the Vikings have been missing on the defensive line for years.

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles had the number 22 overall pick in the first round of the draft, which they used to select cornerback Quinyon Mitchell from Toledo. In the second round at pick 40, they selected Iowa defensive back Cooper DeJean.

The Eagles desperately needed to address the secondary of their defense in the offseason, mainly via the draft. A position group that, in 2023, allowed 252.2 passing yards per game in the regular season ranked 26th in the NFL.

The additions of Mitchell and DeJean, who both had first-round grades according to many draft experts, will help bolster that Eagles secondary. Mitchell is a ballhawk, with six interceptions and 37 pass breakups over the last two seasons. He also has elite speed, running a 4.3 40-yard dash at the draft combine.

DeJean has positional flexibility to play corner or safety, which the Eagles will utilize. DeJean is a highly physical player with great speed as well. He can cut the gap that a receiver may get on him off the break and shed blocks very well.

Draft Blunders

Atlanta Falcons

Holding the eighth overall pick in the draft, Atlanta was in a prime position to add talent to the roster. A team that, in the offseason, signed quarterback Kirk Cousins to a 4-year $180 million contract. The Falcons could have selected a pass rusher, receiver, and offensive lineman at the number eight pick.

So, who did the Falcons select? Michael Penix Jr, a quarterback from Washington. A quarterback! After spending $180 million on a quarterback, Atlanta drafted one in the first round of the NFL draft. Penix Jr. is a very talented player, so don’t get me wrong. He has tons of talent and is probably the best pocket passer and deep ball thrower of any quarterback in the draft.

However, it doesn’t make sense for a team that just signed their franchise quarterback to select one with the number eight selection in the draft. Penix will also be 24 by the time the season begins.

Falcons general manager Terry Fontenot said in a post-draft press conference, “If [Penix] sits for four or five years, that’s a great problem to have because we’re doing so well at that position.”

Considering Penix’s age, it’s absurd to sit him for four to five years before he becomes the team’s starter.

Overall, I have no idea what the Falcons are doing.

Denver Broncos

The Broncos selected quarterback Bo Nix from Oregon with the number 12 pick in the draft. Quarterback seemed to be a position of need for the Broncos after releasing Russell Wilson in the offseason and having no real talent at the quarterback position on their roster. However the selection of Nix at 12 was a reach.

Nix is 24- years old and played five college football seasons between Auburn and Oregon. Nix seemingly has already reached his potential as a player. A game manager who won’t win the game with any tremendous play and benefits from the talent around him. Not to mention, Nix’s arm strength is questionable as well.

If the Broncos believed Nix was their guy, I wonder if a trade-back situation would have been possible since it’s hard to imagine another team would select him in the first round.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys are the losers of the entire offseason. After another disappointing regular season in which they lost to the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round of the playoffs, the Cowboys entered the offseason with expectations to drastically improve this football team.

When owner Jerry Jones said the team was to go “all in” this offseason, fans expected to see the team go all in. Instead, they sign no players of significance in free agency.

In the draft, they select Tyler Guyton, an offensive lineman from Oklahoma, who is a talented football player and should be good in the NFL. However, this team said they would go all in this offseason, and they have done nothing.

Quarterback Dak Prescott enters the final year of his contract before becoming a free agent, and head coach Mike McCarthy also enters the final year. Prescott’s contract handcuffed the Cowboys this offseason, and the team needed to reach some sort of extension with him before free agency to have the cap room to bring in high-end talent.

Ultimately, the Cowboys did not restructure his deal, and now they are stuck with a quarterback and head coach in the final years of their contracts. At the same time, they will soon need to pay the top dollar to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and linebacker Micah Parsons.

For these six teams, it is impossible to know right now how these players will turn out. Some could go on to have great careers, while some could have disappointing short careers in the NFL.

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