2024 NFL draft questions: Teams with instant-impact picks


The 2024 NFL draft brought record-breaking trends, including six quarterbacks picked in Round 1 for the first time since 1983 and eight offensive tackles taken in Round 1, which ties 2008 for the most ever. Now that more than a week has passed since the draft concluded, our NFL experts have had time to assess the class.

We asked our analysts and insiders to answer some of the draft’s biggest questions. We began with their favorite picks and the biggest head-scratching selections — some of which didn’t involve quarterback Michael Penix Jr. going to the Atlanta Falcons in the top 10. We’ll continue to update this story with a new topic every day this week, diving into the rookie classes our analysts believe will make the biggest impact, Rookie of the Year picks, fantasy sleepers and bold predictions.

Which players could win Offensive and Defensive Rookie of the Year? Our experts dive in on the top takeaways:

Jump to a topic:
Best rookies on offense | Best rookies on defense
Draft classes that will make a big impact
Favorite picks | Biggest head-scratchers

Who is your early pick for Defensive Rookie of the Year?

Stephania Bell, fantasy football analyst: Jared Verse, DE, Los Angeles Rams. Verse comes ready-made to slot right into the Rams’ front seven. He is talented and powerful, and the Rams’ defense needed an edge rusher who could make an immediate impact. Verse recorded a team-leading 18 sacks and 83 pressures in the past two seasons at Florida State.

Matt Bowen, NFL analyst: Byron Murphy II, DT, Seattle Seahawks. Murphy can create backfield chaos as a run-defender, with the interior pass rush traits to impact the pocket. Under Mike Macdonald, who coached a similar player in defensive tackle Justin Madubuike in Baltimore last season, Murphy can be a disruptive force for the Seahawks.

Mike Clay, fantasy football analyst: Terrion Arnold, CB, Detroit Lions. Detroit already has a terrific offense in place, but the defense is on the ascent. That includes a new-look secondary led by first-round pick Arnold and veteran standout Carlton Davis III. Expect this duo to lock down the perimeter this season. Arnold, who had five interceptions at Alabama last season, will be well positioned for a very productive rookie campaign.

Jeremy Fowler, national NFL writer: Verse. Laiatu Latu and Dallas Turner got most of the bump as top pass-rushers, but Verse is a unique player with serious power. In the post-Aaron Donald era, Verse could become the face of the Rams’ defense.

Matt Miller, NFL draft analyst: Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Philadelphia Eagles. Realistically, either cornerback picked in the top 40 by the Eagles (Mitchell or Cooper DeJean) would be a good selection, but Mitchell’s speed and ball skills make him the favorite. Philly can get after the quarterback, creating good opportunities for Mitchell to grab interceptions on errant passes.

Eric Moody, fantasy and sports betting analyst: Verse. He showcased his talent during his final collegiate season at Florida State, accumulating 41 tackles, nine sacks, one forced fumble, one fumble recovery and two pass breakups. There was a gap to fill on the Rams’ defensive line, and Verse was drafted precisely for that purpose. Verse, who is known for his play strength and speed off the edge, is well positioned to step into this role.

Jason Reid, senior Andscape writer: Laiatu Latu, DE, Indianapolis Colts. He is elite in both technique and talent. Latu is equally efficient against the run and at pursuing the passer. The Colts are getting a relentless player who totaled 34 tackles for losses and 23.5 sacks in the past two seasons for UCLA.

Jordan Reid, NFL draft analyst: Dallas Turner, LB, Minnesota Vikings. Playing in Brian Flores’ defense, Turner is a perfect match, as he will likely be used at multiple spots. His first-step burst and continued expansion of his array of pass-rush moves set him up for early success. Expect Turner to be moved around quite a bit and receive many opportunities to make plays in multiple ways.

Aaron Schatz, NFL writer: Verse. Four of the past five DPOY awards have gone to edge rushers, and Verse seems likely to get the most playing time of the top three edge rushers from this year’s draft.

Mike Tannenbaum, NFL front office insider: Turner. Turner will have a lot of pass-rushing opportunities, which I believe he will take advantage of. I thought he should have gone as high as No. 8 to Atlanta because he has the double-digit sack total ability.

Seth Walder, sports analytics writer: Latu. He was selected as the first defensive player, despite his medical concerns, so I like him even more as the defender to bet on here. Last season, he led the FBS in pressure rate at edge (22%) and in sacks created (17) — which credits the player who first earns pressure on a play that eventually becomes a sack.

Field Yates, NFL draft analyst: Verse. The Rams needed serious front-seven reinforcements and used the 19th overall pick on the ready-made Verse, whose in-line power and 6-foot-4 length should lead to sack production right out of the gate. Verse is almost 24 years old and is a more refined prospect than many of the other players taken around him in the first round.

Who is your early pick for Offensive Rookie of the Year?

Bell: Caleb Williams, QB, Chicago Bears. Given that I picked the Bears as the rookie class to make the biggest impact in 2024, it stands to reason that the leader of that class will lead the charge and garner the OROY honors. His supporting cast extends well beyond fellow rookie receiver Rome Odunze; veteran pass-catchers such as receivers Keenan Allen and DJ Moore will help showcase Williams’ talent.

Bowen: Williams. Williams is set up in Chicago with proven pass-catchers and explosive play targets. He has the undeniable talent to create as a playmaker outside of the structure, and new offensive coordinator Shane Waldron can keep him on schedule from the pocket with defined reads and play-action throws. I expect Williams to produce high-level numbers — for a playoff team — in his first pro season.

Clay: Marvin Harrison Jr., WR, Arizona Cardinals. The first non-QB selected in April’s draft, Harrison will immediately step in as a featured target in Arizona’s Kyler Murray-led offense. We’ve seen elite performances from rookie wideouts in recent years (three top-10 fantasy campaigns over the past five seasons), and Harrison has the talent and opportunity to follow in the footsteps of recent award winners at the wide receiver position in Ja’Marr Chase and Garrett Wilson.

Fowler: Jayden Daniels, QB, Washington Commanders. This will be a close race with Williams and possibly a receiver such as Harrison, but Daniels is set up for success. Washington has a chance to be sneaky good. Daniels has adequate skill players around him in Terry McLaurin, Jahan Dotson, Zach Ertz, Brian Robinson Jr. and Austin Ekeler. Some evaluators considered Daniels the most pro-ready quarterback on Day 1. Kliff Kingsbury’s system is good for passing yards, and Daniels will accumulate rushing yards to bolster his case.

Liz Loza, fantasy and sports betting analyst: Harrison. He was arguably the most polished player — regardless of position — in this year’s draft. He put up 1,211 receiving yards and 14 touchdowns in his final season at Ohio State. His landing spot is prime for production, and he figures to make an immediate impact.

Miller: Xavier Worthy, WR, Kansas City Chiefs. Having Worthy, the fastest player ever tested at the combine, paired with reigning Super Bowl champion quarterback Patrick Mahomes makes Worthy the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year in my book.



Did the Bills ‘hand’ the Chiefs Xavier Worthy?

Dan Orlovsky and Dan Graziano disagree with Mike Greenberg about whether the Bills made a mistake by letting the Chiefs draft WR Xavier Worthy.

Moody: Williams. I agree with many of my colleagues here in choosing Williams. A quarterback has won the award in three of the past five seasons. Williams is well positioned for success with Moore and offseason additions Allen and Odunze.

Jason Reid: Williams. The Bears have set up the first overall pick to succeed. With the ninth overall selection, they added the gifted Odunze to a receiving corps that already included veterans in Moore and Allen, and solid tight end Cole Kmet. Productive running back D’Andre Swift also will help the rookie passer thrive.

Jordan Reid: Harrison. Is there a prospect that landed in a better spot? Harrison was WR1 in Arizona as soon as he heard his name called on draft night. Murray is likely going to develop chemistry early on with him, and Harrison will provide him with a true go-to target.

Schatz: Harrison. He’s in the clear best quarterback situation with Murray of the top receivers chosen in this year’s draft and will be Arizona’s No. 1 option.

Tannenbaum: Williams. I believe he has the ability, leadership and poise to guide the Bears to a material improvement in offense and wins. He is going to have to demonstrate rare mental toughness and resilience, as everything he does will be magnified in a city that has been searching for a franchise quarterback.

Walder: Williams. I’m tempted to pick one of the wideouts, but we’ve seen in the past how big an advantage quarterbacks have in this award — Justin Herbert winning the 2020-21 award over Justin Jefferson comes to mind — so I think Williams is the best bet here, especially because he already has a strong supporting cast.

Yates: Harrison. The most pro-ready prospect in the class landed in a perfect spot to play a massive role right away. The Murray-to-Harrison connection should be terrific the second the two are on the field together.

Which rookie class will make the biggest impact this season?

Bell: Chicago Bears. The drafting of Caleb Williams alone is going to make its mark starting in Week 1. The Bears complemented the Williams pick with Rome Odunze, and the two already have chemistry, making their joint transition to the pro level that much easier. The rookies were set up for success with the team’s structuring of the rest of the offense this offseason, and the defense should ensure they stay on the field plenty.

Bowen: Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers drafted two tone-setting starters on the offensive line with left tackle Troy Fautanu and center Zach Frazier in the first and second rounds, respectively, while fourth-round guard Mason McCormick adds depth up front. Wide receiver Roman Wilson brings toughness and big-play juice from the slot, plus linebacker Payton Wilson has three-down traits.

Clay: Washington Commanders. Washington selected franchise quarterback and Week 1 starter Jayden Daniels with the second overall pick and then proceeded to select five players on Day 2. Those selections included defensive tackle Jer’Zhan Newton and corner Mike Sainristil, who figure to immediately join the defensive rotation, as well as potential Week 1 offensive starters in tight end Ben Sinnott, versatile offensive lineman Brandon Coleman and slot wide receiver Luke McCaffrey.

Fowler: Philadelphia Eagles. There’s no way around it: Philly had a great draft. Cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell and Cooper DeJean signified tremendous value at picks No. 22 and 40, respectively, and will contribute right away. Edge rusher Jalyx Hunt has a big fan in coordinator Vic Fangio. There is big upside. And don’t be surprised when sixth-round receiver Johnny Wilson, a standout at FSU, contributes early.

Miller: Los Angeles Rams. Life after Aaron Donald begins with the 2024 draft class. The Rams selected Jared Verse, Braden Fiske and Tyler Davis to reload upfront. If you’re looking for a year-one impact, Fiske and Verse will be counted on to provide the team’s pass rush and set the culture standard with its former leader now in retirement.

Moody: Arizona Cardinals. The Cardinals made significant moves in this draft. They secured two standout players, wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr. and defensive tackle Darius Robinson, who are expected to have an immediate impact. Additionally, the Cardinals addressed their needs in other positions by acquiring cornerbacks Max Melton and Elijah Jones. With these additions, Arizona’s 2024 draft class is poised to make a difference right away.

Jason Reid: Kansas City Chiefs. It’s stunning that the Chiefs maneuvered into the position to pick WR Xavier Worthy at No. 28. They moved up to get a player who was clocked at 4.21 seconds in the 40-yard dash — the fastest time ever — and he’s the guy quarterback Patrick Mahomes wanted most. Also, don’t be surprised if massive offensive lineman Kingsley Suamataia, the 63rd overall pick, is the Chiefs’ Week 1 starter at left tackle.



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Jordan Reid: Steelers. Their first four picks all have pathways to seeing significant snaps early on. Fautanu and Frazier are much-needed plug-and-play starters along the offensive line. Roman Wilson and Payton Wilson are also two prospects who could be key contributors at some point, as both have pro-ready games immediately.

Schatz: Los Angeles Chargers. Joe Alt will be a force as the starting right tackle. Junior Colson will likely wear the green dot as a starting inside linebacker and will lead the team in tackles. Ladd McConkey will be featured as the slot receiver, and either Brenden Rice and/or Cornelius Johnson will get serious playing time despite waiting until the seventh round to be selected.

Tannenbaum: Bears. Pairing the 2022 Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Williams up with Odunze, last season’s FBS receiving yards leader, will make Chicago’s offense immediately better, assuming its offensive line can hold up.

Walder: Bears. The obvious answer is also the right one in this case: Chicago walked away from the draft with an elite QB prospect who has a great chance to be an instant upgrade over Justin Fields, along with a top wide receiver in Odunze. A previously mediocre offense suddenly looks dangerous.

Yates: Cardinals. I defined the theme of Arizona’s trade as just checking boxes: The team filled need after need after need with good players. Harrison, Robinson and either Melton or Jones should start, while Trey Benson, Tip Reiman, Isaiah Adams and Dadrion Taylor-Demerson could all have meaningful roles. I was extremely impressed by the haul.

Who was your favorite pick in the entire draft?

Bell: Cornerback Quinyon Mitchell to the Philadelphia Eagles at No. 22. When a team fills a need with a standout prospect without breaking the bank to do it, it’s a winner. Mitchell is fast and agile and allowed no touchdowns in over 400 coverage snaps last season. He rose on many draft boards in recent months … and yet, the Eagles were able to surprise the competition by snagging him here.

Bowen: Cornerback Mike Sainristil to the Washington Commanders at No. 50. A nickel corner with a playmaking mentality, Sainristil was one of my favorite defensive backs to study. He led Michigan’s defense last season with six interceptions and seven pass breakups. Look for him to play a disruptive role as a rookie in Dan Quinn’s defensive system.

Clay: Wide receiver Ladd McConkey to the Los Angeles Chargers at No. 34. The Chargers moved on from Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler and Gerald Everett during the offseason, a foursome responsible for 55% of the team’s targets over the past two seasons. Enter McConkey, who is an excellent fit as a potential Allen replacement in the short-to-intermediate area for quarterback Justin Herbert. Even in a run-heavy offense, McConkey, who came out of Georgia, has a path to massive volume right out of the gate.

Fowler: Wide receiver Malik Nabers to the New York Giants at No. 6. For all the hand-wringing about the Giants’ quarterback outlook, the truth is New York quarterbacks haven’t had a true top-10 receiver since Odell Beckham Jr. Nabers might have the highest ceiling of any offensive player in the draft. Several teams in the top 15 coveted him. Give quarterback Daniel Jones a chance with a guy of this caliber, and see what happens.

Miller: Wide receiver Rome Odunze to the Chicago Bears at No. 9. Let’s give the Bears credit for not overthinking and simply drafting great players. With a rookie quarterback added in Caleb Williams, selecting a go-to receiver for him to learn and grow with was brilliant. It also helps that the two trained together, building chemistry in the pre-draft process. Odunze was my No. 3 overall prospect, which means Chicago drafted two of my top three players in this class.

Moody: Offensive lineman Graham Barton to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at No. 26. As an ex-offensive lineman, it was a pleasure breaking down Barton’s film. He’s consistent and showcases maximum effort on every play without mental errors. Barton can play center, guard or tackle as a rookie, and I believe he’ll have a superior career to some of the names drafted ahead of him.

Jason Reid: Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. I understand everything about the Falcons’ commitment to quarterback Kirk Cousins, the salary cap implications and the potential for strife within the locker room. But if the Falcons are right about Penix, none of that will matter in the long run. If a team believes it has identified a potential transformational player at the most important position in sports, well, it has to go get him. It’s that simple.

Jordan Reid: Edge rusher Dallas Turner to the Minnesota Vikings at No. 17. Minnesota hasn’t drafted an edge rusher in the first two rounds since 2005 (Erasmus James). The team needed to replenish its talent off of the edge after losing Danielle Hunter in free agency. While the team signed Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel during free agency, Turner provides a high upside as a pass-rusher in Brian Flores’ defense. Turner led Alabama with 10 sacks and 45 pressures last season.

Schatz: Wide receiver Adonai Mitchell to the Indianapolis Colts at No. 52. Analytics suggest there is no such thing as a “draft steal” because prospects drop from consensus for good reasons. That being said, Mitchell might have dropped due to off-field concerns, and Colts GM Chris Ballard spoke out against that. This was the No. 5 wide receiver in Playmaker Score but the No. 11 receiver off the board.



Fantasy projections for the 2024 rookie NFL pass catchers

Check out Mike Clay’s fantasy projections for Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers, Rome Odunze, Brock Bowers and Brian Thomas Jr.

Tannenbaum: Odunze. He has a legitimate chance to be the best receiver from this draft. Under the motto of “win for today and develop for tomorrow,” the Bears have Allen on a one-year deal, and Odunze has Terrell Owens‘ type of ability. Odunze had 1,640 receiving yards and 13 scores in 2023. This is ideal for Chicago.

Walder: Defensive end Laiatu Latu to the Colts at No. 15. Because of medical concerns and the run on offense, the Colts managed to take the edge rusher who led FBS football in pressure rate in each of the past two seasons — yes, ahead of Will Anderson Jr. and Tyree Wilson in 2022 — at No. 15. The Colts might have landed a great one at a premium position in the middle of the first round.

Yates: Odunze. The wideout falling to No. 9 was not a complete surprise, given the anticipated run on quarterbacks early, but it was also not a sure thing. The sixth-highest-rated player on my board could have been the first receiver taken in so many prior drafts, but the presence of Marvin Harrison Jr. and Nabers (the third- and fourth-rated players on my board) made him the third off the board in this class. But don’t be mistaken — Odunze will be an instant impact contributor as one the most polished prospects in the class.

Who was the biggest head-scratching pick of the draft?

Bell: Quarterback Michael Penix Jr. to the Atlanta Falcons at No. 8. It is hard to justify spending this first-round draft capital when the Falcons had declared their nine-figure love for Kirk Cousins weeks earlier. The team did fulfill defensive needs — its most glaring hole entering the draft — in later rounds, but will the strategy of having two QBs capable of starting create less tension in the locker room … or more?

Bowen: Penix. The Falcons built depth behind Cousins with this selection and set up their QB room for the future. However, I saw this as an opportunity for the Falcons to add an impactful defensive player to new coach Raheem Morris’ system, with outside linebacker Dallas Turner and defensive tackle Byron Murphy II still on the board at the time of Atlanta’s pick.

Fowler: Wide receiver Ricky Pearsall to the San Francisco 49ers at No. 31. I’m not about to doubt coach Kyle Shanahan’s eye for offensive skill players, and I love Pearsall as a player. But his place as WR6 in this draft was unexpected. Most teams I spoke to pegged him as a Day 2 pick. Considering the 49ers still have Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk on the roster, bolstering the offensive or defensive line seemed like a sensible play.

Loza: Tight end Brock Bowers to the Las Vegas Raiders at No. 13. I was stupefied by the Raiders’ selection of Bowers, and it’s not because of his talent level. He’s a potential generational talent with a do-it-all skill set who was expected to come off the board before the first half of the first round. However, Las Vegas spent an early second-round pick on Michael Mayer just a year ago and entered the draft with holes all along the offensive line. In the end, I suppose, the value Bowers presented was too great to pass on.

Moody: Quarterback Bo Nix to the Denver Broncos at No. 12. While he posted prolific numbers at Oregon during his final collegiate season, it’s worth noting that nearly 67% of his passes came within 9 yards of the line of scrimmage. Nix’s selection appears to reflect desperation on the part of a Sean Payton-led Broncos team in need of a quarterback upgrade. I felt like Denver could have traded down and still landed Nix.

Jason Reid: Offensive tackle Tyler Guyton to the Dallas Cowboys at No. 29. Look, I get that the Cowboys had a major need along their offensive line. And the fact that they moved to rebuild it in this draft makes sense. That established, Guyton, while possessing impressive physical tools, is a developmental player. There’s no sugarcoating that.

Jordan Reid: Defensive tackle Ruke Orhorhoro to the Falcons at No. 35. With Jer’Zhan Newton still on the board, it made more sense to take him there. Newton possesses more upside as a rusher and is an ideal interior defender who pairs perfectly with Grady Jarrett. Orhorhoro is unquestionably the better run-defender, but Newton’s combination of explosiveness and disruption would’ve made him the better pick.

Schatz: Penix. Look, I understand the importance of the quarterback position, leading to six quarterbacks chosen in this year’s top 12. You can talk me into the idea that Penix is a better prospect than J.J. McCarthy despite McCarthy doing better in my QBASE projections. But if all goes well, Penix is not going to take a snap in the NFL regular season until he’s 26 years old. The Penix pick isn’t that head-scratching; it’s the Penix pick in conjunction with the Cousins contract.

Walder: Defensive tackle Braden Fiske to the Los Angeles Rams at No. 39. This has little to do with the player and more to do with the circumstances of the pick. The Rams paid an obscene price to move up from No. 52, sacrificing a fifth-round pick and future second-rounder in the process — the most expensive Day 2 overpay in at least the past six drafts and a larger investment than their first-round pick (Jared Verse at No. 19), according to our draft pick valuations. And all this for a player who was at the beginning of his selection range, according to the Draft Day Predictor (in other words, this was a borderline reach).

Yates: Penix. I had a top-of-the-second-round grade on Penix, but quarterbacks always fly off the board earlier than the overall ranks indicate. This is about Atlanta investing in a player who will turn 24 on Wednesday at a position in which only one player will play after paying Cousins $100 million guaranteed in March. One of the great advantages of a quarterback on a rookie contract is the modest cost of his contract, which affords you the ability to spend elsewhere across the roster. The Falcons are not realizing that advantage with Cousins under contract and making $90 million over the first two seasons of Penix’s deal.


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