2024 NFL Draft Winners and Losers: Bears and Vikings Win Round 1, Falcons Shockingly Take Michael Penix Jr.

Who were the winners and losers from Round 1 of the 2024 NFL Draft? The Bears and Vikings are probably pleased after the first round. Kirk Cousins? Not so much.

While the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft didn’t necessarily produce the chaos that’d been promised, there were plenty of surprising picks and moments during Thursday night’s action.

Let’s run through Round 1 and identify the winners and losers, beginning with the team that owned the No. 1 overall pick.

Round 1 Winners and Losers From the 2024 NFL Draft

Winner | Chicago Bears

The Chicago Bears made the easy decision to select QB Caleb Williams at No. 1, adding the consensus top signal-caller in the draft with the pick they acquired from the Carolina Panthers.

Williams will be dropped into one of the best situations for a first-overall quarterback in recent memory, especially because Chicago added another weapon with its second first-round pick.

General manager Ryan Poles saw the board fall perfectly for his club as WR Rome Odunze slipped to No. 9.

Odunze, who potentially could have gone as early as No. 6, joins DJ Moore, Keenan Allen, Cole Kmet, and D’Andre Swift in a rebuilt Bears offense that should help Williams thrive from Day 1.

Winner | Minnesota Vikings

While the Minnesota Vikings didn’t quite follow the Bears’ lead and stand pat, they didn’t make the drastic sort of trades that many had projected coming into the draft.

Minnesota moved up one spot from 11 to 10 before grabbing QB J.J. McCarthy, then traded from 23 to 17 to land pass rusher Dallas Turner.

The Vikings will be short on draft capital, both for the rest of this year’s draft and into 2025. But future compensatory picks will help offset those losses, while general manager Kwesi Adofo-Mensah should have plenty of cap space to work with next offseason.

Most importantly, the Vikings now have young assets at almost every premium position, including QB (McCarthy), WR (Justin Jefferson and Jordan Addison), OT (Christian Darrisaw and Brian O’Neill), and pass rusher (Jonathan Greenard and Turner).

The Minnesota roster reset that seemed likely when Kirk Cousins departed this offseason is essentially complete.

Loser | Falcons QB Kirk Cousins

Speaking of Cousins, the former Vikings QB didn’t have the best evening on Thursday.

Six weeks after signing a four-year, $180 million contract to take over under center for the Atlanta Falcons, Cousins was “stunned” after Atlanta used its No. 8 overall pick on Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr.

Cousins’ agent said his client received a call from the Falcons informing him of the Penix pick once they were on the clock. But Cousins can’t feel great that his new club is already considering his replacement.

Atlanta’s decision to select Penix could turn into a disaster. Cousins’ contract essentially guarantees him the starting job through 2025, meaning Penix — who will turn 24 in two weeks — might be 26 by the time he takes over for the Falcons.

The opportunity cost of passing on Odunze, DT Byron Murphy II, or Turner is too significant to ignore.

Winner | Cardinals QB Kyler Murray

Had the 2024 season started earlier today, Kyler Murray’s Arizona Cardinals receivers would have been Michael Wilson, Greg Dortch, Zach Pascal, and Chris Moore.

No team needed pass-catching help more than Arizona, which wisely decided to stay put at No. 4 and take Ohio State WR Marvin Harrison Jr.

While the Cards might’ve been able to trade back and acquire more picks, they already owned seven choices inside the top 104.

At some point, Arizona needed to land talented players — which it did by staying put and drafting Harrison, the cleanest WR prospect in the class.

Winner | Raiders QB Gardner Minshew

Although Gardner Minshew looked like the Las Vegas Raiders‘ 2024 starting QB after inking a two-year deal worth $25 million in March, Las Vegas was rumored to be interested in moving up for a quarterback in Round 1.

The club’s interest may have waned after Jayden Daniels — who has a relationship with Raiders head coach Antonio Pierce — came off the board at No. 2. Las Vegas didn’t move up, ultimately watching six quarterbacks be drafted in the top 12 picks before it grabbed TE Brock Bowers at pick 13.

Minshew may still need to fend off Aidan O’Connell, who started 10 games during his 2023 rookie campaign. But O’Connell finished 25th out of 30 qualifiers in QBR last season, so he won’t be as imposing of a competitor as a first-round rookie would’ve been.

Loser | Chargers QB Justin Herbert

It’s hard to argue with picking an offensive tackle like Joe Alt at the top of the first round. While tackle might not be an immediate need for the Los Angeles Chargers, teams can’t draft off need alone. Adding a premium talent at a premium position is rarely the wrong choice.

But we can still be upset at Justin Herbert’s set of projected weapons, right? Los Angeles passed on Malik Nabers and Oduzne with Josh Palmer, Quentin Johnston, and Derius Davis as its top three WRs.

This year’s receiver class is extremely deep, and the Chargers should be able to grab an option like Adonai Mitchell, Ladd McConkey, Keon Coleman, or Ja’Lynn Polk at pick No. 37.

Winner | Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs needed another wide receiver even before Rashee Rice caused a multi-car crash in March that will likely result in an NFL suspension.

With Rice facing a multi-game ban, Kansas City gave Patrick Mahomes another pass catcher in Round 1.

K.C. moved up two spots, acquiring pick 28 from the Buffalo Bills before taking Texas’ Xavier Worthy, who set a new Combine record with a 4.21-second 40-yard dash and won’t turn 21 years old until Saturday.

With free agent signing Hollywood Brown also in town, the Chiefs have protected themselves if and when Rice is sidelined.

Winner | Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman had never selected a first-round corner, but Philadelphia’s defensive collapse in 2023  was enough for him to stray from his draft tenets.

Incumbent Eagles CB Darius Slay is already 33, while James Bradberry turns 31 in August and fell off a cliff in 2023. Adding Quinyon Mitchell — who dominated against Power Five athletes at the Senior Bowl, then posted a 4.33 40-yard dash at the Combine — means Philadelphia won’t have to rely on aging options in its secondary again.

And the Eagles landed Mitchell without trading up.

Multiple pre-draft reports suggested Roseman was interested in moving up for a CB, but Philly grabbed Mitchell while keeping both its second-round picks (Nos. 50 and 53).

Loser | Indianapolis Colts

Pass rusher Laitau Latu could turn into an impact player in Year 1. He’s considered the most pro-ready of the edge defenders who came off the board in the first round, and he made sense as the 15th overall pick.

But there might be at least a slight disappointment in Indianapolis after pre-draft rumors that the Colts could trade up for a pass catcher like Nabers, Odunze, or Bowers.

General manager Chris Ballard is usually pretty conservative, so the idea always seemed a bit far-fetched. Still, the idea of pairing an elite weapon with Anthony Richardson was tantalizing.

Winner | Jacksonville Jaguars

Elsewhere in the AFC South, the Jacksonville Jaguars have to feel good about their Round 1 process.

Jacksonville landed a much-needed WR in LSU’s Brian Thomas Jr. and did so after moving back from 17 to 23, acquiring a fifth-round pick this year and 2025 third- and fourth-rounders.

Thomas isn’t a risk-free prospect, but he could turn into exactly what the Jaguars’ offense needed after losing Calvin Ridley in free agency. He’ll join a Jacksonville WR depth chart that includes holdover Christian Kirk and free agent addition Gabe Davis, giving Trevor Lawrence a fighting chance in 2024.

Loser | Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys‘ decision to trade down from No. 24 to No. 29 was a solid deal on paper. Dallas received a third-round pick for moving down just five spots (and giving up a 2025 seventh).

But by moving back, the Cowboys also missed out on Duke OL prospect Graham Barton, who might’ve been a Day 1 starter at center or guard. Barton, who went 26th to the Buccaneers, was the type of pro-ready lineman the win-now Cowboys should have been targeting.

Instead, Jerry Jones and Co. picked up Oklahoma’s Tyler Guyton, who has more upside as a long-term tackle but probably needs more development before he’s ready to start in the NFL.

While Guyton could turn into a Pro Bowler down the road, choosing a potential project was an odd turn for Dallas.

Looking for everything you need surrounding the 2024 NFL Draft? Make sure to check out the latest draft results, overall team grades, and updated best remaining players available at every position!

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