My 3 Things: Post-NFL Draft 2024

The NFL Draft has officially come to a close, with 257 athletes finding new homes in one of the 32 NFL Franchises. On average, 5 Hall of Famers come from each year’s draft class and if that’s the case this year, teams had a 0.02% chance of picking the ‘perfect guy’. With that being said, teams aren’t necessarily looking for their draft cards to have matching names with one in the future in Canton, they are looking for impact players. The 2024 NFL draft was full of drama, specifically in the first round, but three things stood out. Here they are. 

  1. Michael Penix Jr.

So much for saving the best for last, where did this come from? The head-scratcher of the weekend, Michael Penix Jr. went No. 8 overall to the Atlanta Falcons. The root of the head-scratching comes from various circumstances, starting with Kirk Cousins. Cousins, who has spent his last six seasons in Minnesota with the Vikings, signed a four-year contract that is worth at least $100 million with an upward value of $180 million in the offseason with Atlanta. 44 days later, the Falcons decided to select his ‘predecessor’ in Penix. Teams across the NFL landscape often look to the Kansas City Chiefs’ blueprint for developing Patrick Mahomes and attempt to replicate it. The plan included drafting Mahomes with an established quarterback already in the room in Alex Smith. Mahomes sat on the bench as the backup, learning from Smith throughout the year, and took the starting role the following year when Smith was traded to Washington. The rest is history for Mahomes and the Chiefs and teams, if possible, would be more than happy for that plan to work for their franchise as well. The major visible flaw in this replication is the looming four years of Kirk Cousins’s contract. Generally, a veteran quarterback is brought in on a one-year (maybe two-year) deal to mentor a freshly drafted quarterback and impart their wisdom from years of experience in the league. The deal simply doesn’t make sense and that’s why I believe that drafting Penix was not Atlanta’s plan two months ago when the Cousins contract was starting to come together. It will be interesting to see what ends up happening in Atlanta, but the odds are stacked against the front office in defending this deal to ownership and the Falcon Faithful. 

2. Offense, offense, offense

Twenty-three offensive players were drafted in the opening round of the 2024 NFL draft. That is 23 offensive compared to the measly nine defensive. Those 23 also include every single one of the first fourteen selections. Both the 14 in a row and the 23 total are NFL records. The previous high for offensive players taken in the first round was 19, and that number was shattered. The question many are asking is: why? The obvious answer might be that the NFL is an offensive-minded league. Teams realize that ‘barn-burners’ of games are going to be more prevalent, even with the impressive defensive numbers from many teams last season. Teams see what Miami and Kansas City can do with their offenses and some are starting to conclude that that model is the future. They are not necessarily on the wrong path, but that’s not the only reason the record was shattered. The talent pool in this draft class just truly was dominated by offensive players. The quarterbacks are a big part of that number, which will be discussed in a moment, but wide receivers and offensive linemen made that number skyrocket. Injuries also pushed defensive players down boards like UCLA’s Laiatu Latu who was not taken until pick 15 by Indianapolis, falling due to his injury history. The league appears to be headed in an offensive-focused direction and the results were seen clearly in the next generation of potential stars. 

3. Quarterbacks

6 of those first 12 offensive players taken were quarterbacks. As much as the NFL is an offensive-driven league, it all starts at the quarterback position. In the last 10 Super Bowls, the winning quarterback has been Tom Brady (4), Patrick Mahomes (3), Peyton Manning (1), Nick Foles (1), and Matthew Stafford (1). The thing that jumps out from that group is that the majority of them are stars. Foles might be the last of a group of quarterbacks who were not the pure soul of the team and now teams realize that they need a quarterback that will not only control their offenses but also provide the Super Bowl-level play they dream about. Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, Drake Maye, Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy, and Bo Nix all went in the first twelve picks and all six of those teams believe their draft pick can eventually take them to (and win) a Super Bowl. The unfortunate thing is that at least some of them, and maybe all, will be disappointed. The NFL is an extremely difficult league to win in and finding the ‘right guy’ is even harder. It will be entertaining to see how all of these young men’s careers pan out, but the emphasis on the quarterback position just adds even more sparkle to the prestigious role. 

Cover Image: AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

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