Instant grades on 2024 NFL Draft first round picks as they happen

Once again, ladies and gentlemen, the NFL Draft is here.

The eyes of the NFL world flock to Detroit to see the next wave of NFL athletes enter the league. SB Nation will be doing live grades based on our top 100 big board of the best prospects in the draft this year.

This year looks to be a bit more chaotic after the first three picks. USC QB Caleb Williams is going to be the first overall pick, we know that much is true. He’s more than likely already got his favorite order at JP Graziano’s memorized. The odds of him being the first overall pick are astronomical. Washington picks at 2, and all odds seem to be pointing to LSU QB Jayden Daniels being the pick. NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported earlier that the Patriots are fixed on UNC QB Drake Maye at 3. From there, anything can happen. A lot of teams have been discussed moving up and trading back, and seeing what happens will be exciting. There’s also potential of a trade involving San Francisco 49ers WR Brandon Aiyuk going down tonight.

We’re in for a wild night, so follow along as we grade here.

1. Chicago Bears (via Carolina Panthers) – Caleb Williams, USC, QB

Grade: A+

The Bears have needed a reset at the QB position for a while, and they finally get one in my QB1B, Williams. He’s a dynamic playmaker with a strong arm and a special feel for the game that’ll stand out in Shane Waldron’s offense. While he tends to play a bit too much like Superman, that’s nothing that an NFL coach can’t fix. He’s an instant big play waiting to happen, and can become a star in the NFL immediately.

2. Washington Commanders – Jayden Daniels, LSU, QB

Grade: B+

The Commanders needed a QB who could provide some pop, and Daniels does that. He’s a big play waiting to happen with his arm and legs, and those explosive plays will work well with Kliff Kingsbury. I have a lot of questions about his ability to mitigate taking massive shots as a runner and passer, and his ability to throw over the middle, but he won’t be asked to do so in Washington. This is a good pick.

3. New England Patriots – Drake Maye, UNC, QB

Grade: A+

Getting my QB1A at the third overall pick is fantastic for the Patriots. Maye is a strong-armed, aggressive passer and a growing processor at the QB spot. He’s more ready to start right away than people think, and even if he isn’t ready to start by the Pats standards, they have the infrastructure to aid a young QB immediately. Absolutely love this pick.

4. Arizona Cardinals – Marvin Harrison Jr, WR, Ohio State

Grade: A

This one was obvious. Harrison Jr. is the best player in this draft class and a bonafide superstar on the outside. His body control, savvy as a route runner and ability to win with separation and going above the rim is going to do wonders in Arizona with a legit NFL QB and other weapons around him. Hand in glove fit.

5. Los Angeles Chargers – Joe Alt, OT, Notre Dame

Grade: B-

Ok so look: I understand picking Alt. He’s a technician at tackle with NFL bloodlines, and is a strong pass protector. However, he’s a career left tackle, and unless the Chargers plan on moving Rashawn Slater to the right, Alt will be playing right tackle. His play strength wanes sometimes, which could be a problem early in his career, but I understand why the Chargers picked offensive line here. Would’ve loved a trade back, but Harbaugh and co are committed to running the ball and protecting Justin Herbert-can’t get much better than that.

6. New York Giants – Malik Nabers, WR, LSU

Grade: A-

Yes, the Giants will need a QB soon. However, you can’t force yourself into loving a quarterback just because you need one. So Nabers here rules. He’s a big play waiting to happen, and despite a little bit of a vibey route running repertoire, he can instantly provide some juice into the offense. Would’ve like Washington WR Rome Odunze here a bit more, but this still rules.

7. Tennessee Titans – JC Latham, OT, Alabama

Grade: B

This is a really interesting pick for the Titans, assuming current RT Nicholas Petit-Frere moves from right, where he played all his rookie season, to left tackle in 2024. This was a spot for Alt but Latham here is a nice fit. He’s a dancing bear on the right side of the line who moves people in the run game and isn’t a stiff in pass protection. Under the tutelage of Bill Callahan, this could be really fun! Gotta hope Petit-Frere works at left tackle, though.

8. Atlanta Falcons – Michael Penix Jr., QB, Washington

Grade: C-

Oh man. Look, I love Michel Penix Jr. and his game. The injury concerns very clearly didn’t scare teams away and neither did the wonky release. I just wonder why the Falcons would pick a QB at 8 knowing that Kirk Cousins is their guy for the next two to three years. This is confusing. Love the player, weird fit and spot to take him.

9. Chicago Bears – Rome Odunze, WR, Washington

Grade: A

Love this pick in the short and long term for Odunze and the Bears. He’s my WR2, and he has such a clean game on the outside that he can allow WR Keenan Allen to play in the slot and DJ Moore can continue to be explosive. Odunze can grow into a top receiver to pair with Moore and grow with Caleb Williams. Love this pick.

10. Minnesota Vikings (via New York Jets) – JJ McCarthy, QB, Michigan

Grade: A-

The Vikings didn’t have to move heaven and Earth to trade up, and eventually got the guy that would fit their offense. I think McCarthy is a ways away from being a starter, but he doesn’t have to start right away with Sam Darnold playing. McCarthy is a confident passer off play action and a good enough athlete to make the O’Connell offense work in the long term. Good fit for Minnesota and McCarthy.

11. New York Jets (via Minnesota Vikings) – Olu Fashanu, OT, Penn State

Grade: A

The Jets have to make sure Aaron Rodgers is protected not only for 2024, but beyond. Yes, they signed Tyron Smith and acquired Morgan Moses, but both are older and injury-prone. Fashanu doesn’t have to play right away, but if he does he’s the best pure pass protector in this draft class. While he has room to grow as a run defender, he can learn from the best in Smith and become the left tackle of the future.

12. Denver Broncos – Bo Nix, QB, Oregon

Grade: C+

The run on QBs continues, with the Nix to Denver rumors being true. While Nix is a good point and shoot QB with accuracy to the short areas of the field, a lot of that Oregon offense was watered down and his responses under pressure left a lot to be lacking. Denver was in a tough spot in this draft, needing a QB but not having the capital to move up to do it. Better hope he works out.

13. Las Vegas Raiders – Brock Bowers, TE, Georgia

Grade: C-

Another one where I love the player, really questioning the decision by Las Vegas. Bowers is a phenomenal athlete who wins after the catch and is arguably the most dynamic player in the draft, but wow the Raiders kinda stunned me. With all the holes defensively in the secondary, and an offensive line still under construction, this feels like a luxury.

14. New Orleans Saints – Taliese Fuaga, OL, Oregon State

Grade: B+

I really like this pick for New Orleans. Fuaga is a people mover who might be a better fit inside at guard, where the Saints’ pickings are…slim to say the least. New Orleans needs help up front with RT Ryan Ramczyk’s future up in the air, so Fuaga can play guard or tackle and be fun in a wide zone blocking scheme that New Orleans is going to run. Would’ve liked Troy Fautanu here, especially because he’s a left tackle, but Fuaga is also good here.

15. Indianapolis Colts – Laiatu Latu, EDGE, UCLA

Grade: A-

Finally, a defensive player! I was worried that Latu’s medicals might keep him down the board, but I like the idea of Latu in Indianapolis. While fearsome, their defensive line all kinda wins the same way, especially on the EDGE. While not a power guy, Latu wins with hand usage and burst, and can instantly be a designated pass rusher for the Colts. Like the pick for Indy.

16. Seattle Seahawks – Byron Murphy, DT, Texas

Grade: B+

Getting Murphy here feels like a steal, a guy who was slated to go top ten as early as this morning. New Seahawks DC Mike MacDonald coached DT Justin Madubuike to a Pro Bowl season last year, and Murphy is in the same mold of undersized disruptor at 3T. While he can play nose, I wouldn’t want to leave him there long term. Even with Leonard Williams still under contract, Seattle needed more juice on the interior. Really like this for Seattle. Johnny Newton still on the board, though…

17. Minnesota Vikings (via Jacksonville Jaguars) – Dallas Turner, EDGE, Alabama

Grade: A+

What a haul for the Vikings, who got their QB of the future and now another pass rusher for Brian Flores to work with. Turner is athletic, bendy and still growing in his pass rush repertoire. Pairing him with Jon Greenard is a huge plus for Minnesota, who have revamped their pass rush despite losing Danielle Hunter.

18. Cincinnati Bengals – Amarius Mims, OT, Georgia

Grade: A

LOVE this pick for Cincinnati. If Mims is healthy, he’s got the athletic profile and tools to be one of the best right tackles in the entire league. You worry about his lack of experience, but with Trent Brown playing right, he doesn’t have to play right away. Incredibly shrewd move by the Bengals, taking a high upside tackle who can be dominant when healthy.

19. Los Angeles Rams – Jared Verse, EDGE, Florida State

Grade: A-

While I like the player—Verse is my top EDGE in this class—I kinda wonder about the fit. He didn’t drop into coverage much and that’s a lot of what the Rams do defensively. It’s not too much of a problem that it makes me drop the grade, because Verse is that good, but it’s something to consider. Nevertheless, Verse is such a powerful, powerful player who can be an instant floor raiser for a Rams defense that needs all the help they can get defensively.

20. Pittsburgh Steelers – Troy Fautanu, OL, Washington

Grade: A-

Another player that feels like a solid pick for a team where you can see the vision. Fautanu is a good tackle, but could be a phenomenal guard. This could mean Pittsburgh is leaving Broderick Jones at right tackle and Fautanu can start his career at left, or they can play him inside at guard. Either way, the Steelers are getting a physical linemen who has really quick feet—a good fit in Arthur Smith’s new offense.

21. Miami Dolphins – Chop Robinson, EDGE, Penn State

Grade: B+

While I would’ve gone for a lineman here to protect QB Tua Tagovailoa, Chop Robinson here is a fine pick. The Dolphins current EDGEs, Bradley Chubb and Jaelan Phillips, are both coming off really bad lower body injuries and it might be time to get some more insurance. Robinson is a blur off the edge in the passing game, and while his run defense leaves a bit to be desired, with Shaq Barrett on the field he might not have to play the run early in his career. A fine pick for the Dolphins at a position of need.

22. Philadelphia Eagles – Quinyon Mitchell, CB, Toledo

Grade: A+

I can’t believe Howie Roseman finally took a CB in the first round. After decades of ignoring it, he finally gets one in Mitchell who is a great fit for that defense. Mitchell excels in off-man coverage and played in a really solid schematic defense at Toledo. His ball skills and trigger to the ball in off man are a perfect fit in Philly.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars – Brian Thomas Jr, WR, LSU

Grade: A-

This pick has the potential to become a home run if Thomas Jr’s medicals check out. If he’s healthy, he’s a perfect fit for what the Jaguars need offensively. He’s big, fast and can get downfield in a hurry. He’s still growing in the route running department but the Jaguars need someone who is tall and fast on the outside. Jacksonville was able to trade down and still add a high ceiling receiver to their offense. Let’s rock and roll.

24. Detroit Lions (via Dallas Cowboys) – Terrion Arnold, CB, Alabama

Grade: A+

This is my favorite pick of the entire first round. Arnold is the perfect fit in Detroit in that defense. He’s a feisty, aggressive corner who can play inside or outside and has the ball skills to immediately be an impact player. Despite trading for Carlton Davis, the Lions still needed help at corner and Arnold can be an instant boost there. This pick is phenomenal.

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