NFL Rumors: Scouts Rave About Cardinals’ Draft, Sources Bury Falcons’ Michael Penix Jr. Selection, and More

Adam Caplan shares how scouts and league executives feel about how the teams picked in the top half of the first round fared in the 2024 NFL Draft.

In today’s column, we take an inside look at the first half of NFL teams that made picks in this year’s first round, how those players will fit, and how they’re also viewed by our sources.

NFL Rumors: Insider Notes on the 2024 NFL Draft

Chicago Bears 2024 NFL Draft Picks

Williams was the consensus top QB for this draft, and the hope here is that he finally becomes the Bears’ franchise player at the position for at least 8-10 years.

As one source told us, give GM Ryan Poles credit for not trading up for Odunze and playing the board correctly. For the first time in years, the Bears are actually stacked at WR.

Amegadjie has some experience at guard but projects to left tackle and is seen as a better athlete than incumbent starter Braxton Jones.

Washington Commanders 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 2
    Jayden Daniels, QB | LSU
  • Round 2, Pick 36
    Johnny Newton, DT | Illinois
  • Round 2, Pick 50 (from PHI through NO)
    Mike Sainristil, CB | Michigan
  • Round 2, Pick 53 (from PHI)
    Ben Sinnott, TE | Kansas State
  • Round 3, Pick 67
    Brandon Coleman, G | TCU
  • Round 3, Pick 100 (from SF)
    Luke McCaffrey, WR | Rice
  • Round 5, Pick 139
    Jordan Magee, LB | Temple
  • Round 5, Pick 161 (from PHI through Tb)
    Dominique Hampton, S | Washington
  • Round 7, Pick 222
    Javontae Jean-Baptiste, EDGE | Notre Dame

This was one of those teams that the scouting community raved about when they reviewed this draft. Daniels was the No. 1 or 2 graded QB for this draft by several teams, so the Commanders did well here in terms of value.

Newton and Sainristil should start early on, and Sinnott, while some teams had a lesser grade on him, we’re told, will eventually start. Teams loved his versatility and he’s coming off a really good set of Senior Bowl week practices.

Coleman, we’re told, should wind up playing inside at guard, and he’ll have a good chance to start over time.

The Commanders lack good depth at ILB, so Magee, if he has a strong preseason, will have a good chance to make the roster.

New England Patriots 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 3
    Drake Maye, QB | North Carolina
  • Round 2, Pick 37 (From LAC)
    Ja’Lynn Polk, WR | Washington
  • Round 3, Pick 68
    Caedan Wallace, OT | Penn State
  • Round 4, Pick 103
    Layden Robinson, G | Texas A&M
  • Round 4, Pick 110 (From LAC through CHI)
    Javon Baker, WR | UCF
  • Round 6, Pick 180
    Marcellas Dial, CB | South Carolina
  • Round 6, Pick 193 (from JAX)
    Joe Milton, QB | Tennessee
  • Round 7, Pick 231 (from CHI)
    Jaheim Bell, TE | Florida State

Maye will take some time to develop, which is why having veteran QB Jacoby Brissett to back him up is a really good option if Maye’s not ready to play Week 1.

Baker and Polk should push for playing time at WR early on, which has been a problematic position for this team for several years.

Bell fits in as an “F” or move TE and has good upside for being selected so late.

Arizona Cardinals
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 4
    Marvin Harrison Jr., WR | Ohio State
  • Round 1, Pick 27 (from HOU)
    Darius Robinson, EDGE | Missouri
  • Round 2, Pick 43 (from ATL)
    Max Melton, CB | Rutgers
  • Round 3, Pick 66
    Trey Benson, RB | Florida State
  • Round 3, Pick 71 (from TEN)
    Isaiah Adams, G | Illinois
  • Round 3, Pick 82 (from IND)
    Tip Reiman, TE | Illinois
  • Round 3, Pick 90 (from HOU)
    Elijah Jones, CB | Boston College
  • Round 4, Pick 104
    Dadrion Taylor-Demerson, S | Texas Tech
  • Round 5, Pick 138
    Xavier Thomas, EDGE | Clemson
  • Round 5, Pick 162 (from HOU)
    Christian Jones, OT | Texas
  • Round 6, Pick 191 (from IND)
    Tejhaun Palmer, WR | UAB
  • Round 7, Pick 226 (from NYG)
    Jaden Davis, CB | Miami (FL)

Our sources felt Arizona had one of the best drafts overall based on value and filling needs with their 12 selections.

They drafted at least three starters (Harrison, Robinson, Melton) and three key backups (Benson, Adams, Reiman).

Robinson is a really good fit for their defensive scheme, as he can play multiple positions.

Melton, who should start this season, has great versatility (can play inside or outside).

Benson could be the long-term starter at RB as veteran James Conner turns 29 years old next month.

Los Angeles Chargers
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 5
    Joe Alt, OT | Notre Dame
  • Round 2, Pick 34 (from NE) 
    Ladd McConkey, WR | Georgia
  • Round 3, Pick 69
    Junior Colson, LB | Michigan
  • Round 4, Pick 105
    Justin Eboigbe, DT | Alabama
  • Round 5, Pick 137 (from NE)
    Tarheeb Still, CB | Maryland
  • Round 5, Pick 140
    Cam Hart, CB | Notre Dame
  • Round 6, Pick 181
    Kimani Vidal, RB | Troy
  • Round 7, Pick 225
    Brenden Rice, WR | USC
  • Round 7, Pick 253 (Compensatory)
    Cornelius Johnson, WR | Michigan

Alt wound up being a surprise pick, and while the Chargers haven’t said where he’ll line up, he figures to start at RT, so they can keep starting Rashawn Slater at LT.

Still and Hart have a decent chance to make the roster coming out of the preseason with the Chargers being light on depth at CB.

Rice dropped due to the lack of game speed, and teams seem to believe he can only play inside.

New York Giants
2024 NFL Draft Picks

The Giants finally got a legit No. 1 WR in Nabers. However, they still could use some size on the other side, but it’s a great start.

Nubin and Phillips should wind up starting eventually and are two players very respected in the scouting community.

Phillips really helped himself after a solid set of practices during Senior Bowl week, and what scouts like in particular about Nubin is his versatility against the run and pass game.

Tennessee Titans
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 7
    JC Latham, OT | Alabama
  • Round 2, Pick 38
    T’Vondre Sweat, DT | Texas
  • Round 4, Pick 106
    Cedric Gray, LB | North Carolina
  • Round 5, Pick 146 (from PHI through MIN)
    Jarvis Brownlee Jr., CB | Louisville
  • Round 6, Pick 182 (from PHI through TEN)
    Jha’Quan Jackson, WR | Tulane
  • Round 7, Pick 242 (from PHI)
    James Williams, S | Miami (FL)
  • Round 7, Pick 252 (from KC)
    Jaylen Harrell, EDGE | Michigan

Multiple sources told us that they likely would have drafted Alt had he dropped to them.

The plan is to play Latham at LT and see how he handles it. Some teams felt that Latham could easily be a multiple All-Pro right tackle, so this situation bears watching over time.

Sweat was added to a position of need and could start right away.

Atlanta Falcons 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 8
    Michael Penix Jr., QB | Washington
  • Round 2, Pick 35 (from ARI)
    Ruke Orhorhoro, DT | Clemson
  • Round 3, Pick 74
    Bralen Trice, EDGE | Washington
  • Round 4, Pick 109
    Brandon Dorlus, DE | Oregon
  • Round 5, Pick 143
    JD Bertrand, LB | Notre Dame
  • Round 6, Pick 186 (from ARI through MIN)
    Jase McClellan, RB | Alabama
  • Round 6, Pick 187
    Casey Washington, WR | Illinois
  • Round 6, Pick 197 (from CLE)
    Zion Logue, DL | Georgia

Well, at least the sources we spoke with lauded Penix as a player, and their criticism had nothing to do with him.

Here’s the cliff notes version. QB Kirk Cousins is pretty locked into the first two years of his contract ($100 million). So, the earliest Penix will start, if Cousins stays healthy, will be in 2026.

And what if Cousins plays at a Pro Bowl level through those two seasons? They wouldn’t bench him, and would he have trade value at 38 years old?

MORE: Kirk Cousins ‘Stunned’ by Atlanta’s Drafting of Michael Penix Jr. in Round 1

What one of the sources explained is that when you’re building a roster with a high first-round pick, that player has to get on the field. Sure, the Falcons selected their franchise QB and were worried about trading down and potentially losing him to another team, and that’s a legitimate concern. But the sources we’ve spoken with (coaches and front office executives) can’t agree with the Falcons’ strategy here.

Orhorhoro has the versatility to play a few spots on Atlanta’s defensive front, and Trice has a legit shot to get meaningful playing time early with the team in dire need of edge rushers.

Washington, while added late in the draft, should be able to challenge for a role as a backup slot WR.

Minnesota Vikings
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 10 (from NYJ)
    J.J. McCarthy, QB | Michigan
  • Round 1, Pick 17 (from JAX)
    Dallas Turner, EDGE | Alabama
  • Round 4, Pick 108
    Khyree Jackson, CB | Oregon
  • Round 6, Pick 177 (from JAX through CAR)
    Walter Rouse, OT | Oklahoma
  • Round 6, Pick 203 (from NYJ through DEN, CLE, HOU)
    Will Reichard, K | Alabama
  • Round 7, Pick 230 (from ARI through CLE, ATL)
    Michael Jurgens, C | Wake Forest
  • Round 7, Pick 232 (from HOU through SF, DEN)
    Levi Drake Rodriguez, DT | Texas A&M-Commerce

As we’ve said previously, some teams had second-round grades on McCarthy, but he would be a perfect fit for the West Coast scheme that head coach Kevin O’Connell runs.

With veteran LB Andrew Van Ginkel able to play inside or outside, that will allow Turner to play right away opposite OLB Jonathan Greenard.

MORE: 2024 NFL Quarterback Rankings

Jackson, according to some sources, had some third-round grades, and figures to be a good fit for defensive coordinator Brian Flores’ scheme.

New York Jets 2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 11 (from MIN)
    Olu Fashanu, OT | Penn State
  • Round 3, Pick 65 (from CAR)
    Malachi Corley, WR | Western Kentucky
  • Round 4, Pick 134 (from BAL)
    Braelon Allen, RB | Wisconsin
  • Round 5, Pick 171 (from PHI)
    Jordan Travis, QB | Florida State
  • Round 5, Pick 173 (from KC)
    Isaiah Davis, RB | South Dakota State
  • Round 5, Pick 176 (from SF)
    Qwan’tez Stiggers, CB | Toronto
  • Round 7, Pick 257 (Compensatory)
    Jaylen Key, DB | Alabama

The Jets haven’t gotten it right at LT for years (see Duane Brown, Mekhi Becton), so Fashanu should break that streak.

Corley, while other teams felt he could only play the slot, is expected to be cross-trained to also play on the outside, we’re told.

The Jets really needed depth at RB, so Allen’s selection makes a ton of sense, and he should be able to push for at least the No. 3 role this season.

Stiggers, a former CFL player, has an inspiring story considering his background, including not playing college football.

Denver Broncos
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 12
    Bo Nix, QB | Oregon
  • Round 3, Pick 76
    Jonah Elliss, EDGE | Utah
  • Round 4, Pick 102 (from SEA through WAS)
    Troy Franklin, WR | Oregon
  • Round 5, Pick 145 (from NYJ)
    Kris Abrams-Draine, CB | Missouri
  • Round 5, Pick 147
    Audric Estimé, RB | Notre Dame
  • Round 7, Pick 235 (from SEA)
    Devaughn Vele, WR | Utah
  • Round 7, Pick 256 (from NYJ)
    Nick Gargiulo, C | South Carolina

Nix, while he had plenty of second-round grades from several teams we’ve spoken with, certainly has enough talent to be a long-term answer for the QB-starved Broncos.

Franklin dropped a bit further than expected but could wind up starting in 2025 and beyond if Denver moves on from veteran WR Courtland Sutton.

Estimé, due to the team’s lack of depth at RB for the future, has a legitimate shot at making the roster.

Las Vegas Raiders
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 13
    Brock Bowers, TE | Georgia
  • Round 2, Pick 44
    Jackson Powers-Johnson, C | Oregon
  • Round 3, Pick 77
    Delmar Glaze, OT | Maryland
  • Round 4, Pick 112
    Decamerion Richardson, CB | Mississippi St.
  • Round 5, Pick 148
    Tommy Eichenberg, LB | Ohio State
  • Round 6, Pick 208 (from KC)
    Dylan Laube, RB | New Hampshire
  • Round 7, Pick 223 (from NE)
    Trey Taylor, S | Air Force
  • Round 7, Pick 229 (from MIN)
    M.J. Devonshire, CB | Pittsburgh

Some of the sources we spoke with said while Bowers is a solid value where they selected him, taking another tight end within the first two rounds in two straight drafts (Michael Mayer in Round 2 last year) is hard to justify when Vegas had plenty of other needs to address (CB, DT, RT).

Powers-Johnson is expected to line up at guard where he’ll likely start right away.

Richardson, according to multiple DB coaches we’ve spoken with, is a high-upside developmental prospect who could start by Year 3. He’s just a little raw, and patience needs to be taken with him.

MORE: 2024 NFL Post-Draft Power Rankings

Laube, who burst on the scene during Senior Bowl practices, has a legit shot to make the Raiders’ roster as a third running back.

Taylor fits in as a box defender and on special teams.

New Orleans Saints
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 14
    Taliese Fuaga, OT | Oregon State
  • Round 2, Pick 41 (from GB through NYJ)
    Kool-Aid McKinstry, CB | Alabama
  • Round 5, Pick 150
    Spencer Rattler, QB | South Carolina
  • Round 5, Pick 170 (Compensatory)
    Bub Means, WR | Pittsburgh
  • Round 5, Pick 175 (Compensatory)
    Jaylan Ford, LB | Texas
  • Round 6, Pick 199 (from PHI)
    Khristian Boyd, DT | Northern Iowa
  • Round 7, Pick 239 (from DEN through LAR)
    Josiah Ezirim, OT | Eastern Kentucky

Fuaga will be a long-term starter at RT or LT for an offensive line that came into the draft with major question marks.

McKinstry dropped to the second round due to “not great tape” from last season, we’re told, but he still projects to be a long-term starter.

Several teams we spoke with gave Rattler grades anywhere from Rounds 3-5, which could help to explain why he dropped a bit further than expected.

Means, one of the fastest players at his position for this draft, could wind up being a steal. Teams felt he needs more versatility to his game, which is why he fell so far.

Indianapolis Colts
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 15
    Laiatu Latu, EDGE | UCLA
  • Round 2, Pick 52 (from CAR through LAR)
    Adonai Mitchell, WR | Texas
  • Round 3, Pick 79 (from ARI through ATL through JAX)
    Matt Goncalves, OT | Pittsburgh
  • Round 4, Pick 117
    Tanor Bortolini, C | Wisconsin
  • Round 5, Pick 142 (from CAR through TEN)
    Anthony Gould, WR | Oregon State
  • Round 5, Pick 151
    Jaylon Carlies, S | Missouri
  • Round 5, Pick 164 (from PHI through DET)
    Jaylin Simpson, S | Auburn
  • Round 6, Pick 201 (from PHI through DET through TB)
    Micah Abraham, CB | Marshall
  • Round 7, Pick 234
    Jonah Laulu, DT | Oklahoma

This was seen as a quality draft from the sources we spoke with around the NFL.

The issue with Latu (neck) and why some teams had a second-round grade on him, we’re told, was there have been some questions in terms of how long of a career he’ll wind up having and whether or not he’ll be able to play into his second contract.

Nevertheless, the Colts clearly feel he’ll play for more than four to five years, or they wouldn’t have selected him in the first round.

Mitchell had late-first or early-second-round grades, we’re told, from several teams and figures to eventually start opposite veteran Michael Pittman Jr.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft’s Best Undrafted Players

Goncalves, not only can play RT or LT, but the coaches plan to give him some practice time at guard. The Colts, through this draft, added a lot of badly needed quality developmental talent on their offensive line.

Bortolini’s versatility (C, G) will give him a good chance to wind up being their top backup interior OL, and he could be the successor to starting C Ryan Kelly, who turns 31 next month.

Carlies, who has good size for safety, is going to be moved to LB, according to GM Chris Ballard.

Seattle Seahawks
2024 NFL Draft Picks

  • Round 1, Pick 16
    Byron Murphy II, DT | Texas
  • Round 3, Pick 81 (from DEN through NO)
    Christian Haynes, G | UConn
  • Round 4, Pick 118
    Tyrice Knight, LB | New Mexico State
  • Round 4, Pick 121 (from DEN through MIA)
    AJ Barner, TE | Michigan
  • Round 5, Pick 136 (from DEN through CLE through CAR)
    Nehemiah Pritchett, CB | Auburn
  • Round 6, Pick 179 (from WAS)
    Sataoa Laumea, G | Utah
  • Round 6, Pick 192
    DJ James, CB | Auburn
  • Round 6, 207 (from DEN through SEA)
    Mike Jerrell, T | Findlay

We’re told Murphy is a player Seattle keyed on early in the draft process, and he could have a similar impact over time that DT Justin Madubuike has had for the Ravens.

The ILBs they signed in free agency (Jerome Baker and Tyrel Dodson) signed one-year deals, so Knight could be a factor in his second year.

KEEP READING: 2024 NFL UDFA Tracker

Laumea’s versatility (RT, RG) could give him a decent chance to make their roster.

The Seahawks have a history of finding small-school players over the years (see OT George Fant, WR David Moore), so Jerrell, out of Findlay, can’t be dismissed.

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