Winners and Losers From the 2024 NFL Draft: Falcons Botch First-Round Pick, Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew Can Exhale

Who were the winners and losers from the 2024 NFL Draft? Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew are happy with the weekend's results. Kirk Cousins? Probably not.

The 2024 NFL Draft is in the books. Every team in the league made multiple selections, hoping to improve their roster for the upcoming season and beyond.

Let’s run through the draft and identify the winners and losers, beginning with a pair of veteran quarterbacks who are breathing a sigh of relief.

Winners and Losers From the 2024 NFL Draft

Winners | Giants QB Daniel Jones and Raiders QB Gardner Minshew

While six quarterbacks came off the board inside the first 12 picks for the first time in NFL history, the New York Giants and Las Vegas Raiders were not among the clubs to grab first-round signal-callers. In fact, neither team selected a QB at any point in the draft.

That’s good news for Daniel Jones and Gardner Minshew, the projected starters for New York and Las Vegas, respectively. Jones is unquestionably Big Blue’s QB1, while Minshew should have the upper hand over 2023 Raiders fourth-round pick Aidan O’Connell.

The Giants and Raiders didn’t add any competition for Jones and Minshew, and they gave them new weapons, too.

New York took LSU WR Malik Nabers sixth overall before adding athletic Penn State TE Theo Johnson in Round 3. Las Vegas grabbed Georgia TE Brock Bowers at No. 13, adding the two-time All-American to a Raiders passing attack that already included Davante Adams, Jakobi Meyers, and fellow TE Michael Mayer.

Losers | Kirk Cousins and the Atlanta Falcons

Six weeks after signing a four-year, $180 million contract to take over under center for the Atlanta Falcons, Kirk 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.

Not only that, but Atlanta passed on other prospects who could’ve helped them win the NFC South in 2024. Planning for the future makes sense, but not after the Falcons just signed Cousins. A pass catcher like WR Rome Odunze or a defensive addition like DT Byron Murphy II or EDGE Laitau Latu would’ve made more sense.

Instead of sticking and picking at 43 or trading back to grab more capital, Atlanta gave up one of their third-rounders to move up eight spots and take Clemson DT Ruke Orhorhoro. Penetrating defensive tackles are in demand, but Orhorhoro ranked 57th on PFN’s Industry Consensus Board. The Falcons took him over higher-rated DTs like Johnny Newton (22), Braden Fiske (46), and Kris Jenkins (51).

Winner | Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes

Life is good for Patrick Mahomes. He’s fresh off winning his third Super Bowl in four years, and the Kansas City Chiefs used their first two draft picks to find him a new wide receiver and left tackle.

Xavier Worthy ran a Combine-record 4.21 40-yard dash in April, so it’s easy to envision the Texas product becoming Mahomes’ next Tyreek Hill. With Chiefs WR Rashee Rice facing a multi-game suspension, Worthy — whom K.C. traded up to draft at pick No. 30 — should be in line for ample targets early in his career.

On Day 2, Andy Reid helped select a fellow BYU alum in OT Kingsley Suamataia. Many mock drafts pegged Suamataia as a Round 1 Chiefs target, so landing him at the end of the second round represented a coup.

Winner | Steelers QB Russell Wilson

First-year Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Russell Wilson couldn’t have felt great when his new team traded WR Diontae Johnson to the Carolina Panthers in March. But the Steelers rectified their pass-catching unit in the 2024 NFL Draft while bolstering their offensive line in front of Wilson.

MORE: 2024 NFL Draft Complete Results, Recap, Order, and All 257 Picks

Pittsburgh stole Michigan WR Roman Wilson in the third round, adding a vertical slot element for a quarterback who loves to take deep shots. Meanwhile, the Steelers added Troy Fautanu, Zach Frazier, and Mason McCormick to their OL after selecting first-round OT Broderick Jones in 2023. Protection shouldn’t be an issue for Pittsburgh.

Loser | Saints QB Spencer Rattler

South Carolina QB Spencer Rattler was the No. 101 player on PFN Draft Analyst Ian Cummings’ Big Board. He ranked even higher — No. 90 — on the consensus board. So why did he slide to the New Orleans Saints in Round 5?

Rattler spent five seasons in college and will turn 24 years old at the start of his rookie campaign. Meanwhile, NFL teams were reportedly turned off by how Rattler carried himself on “QB1,” a 2019 Netflix reality series.

Winners | Bears, Commanders, Patriots Grab Franchise QBs

The Chicago Bears, Washington Commanders, and New England Patriots all found new signal-callers at the top of the draft, and all three organizations continued to make smart selections throughout the rest of the weekend.

The Bears only had five picks, but general manager Ryan Poles made them count. Caleb Williams was an obvious section at No. 1, while Chicago watched WR Rome Odunze fall into its laps at No. 9. OT depth (Kiran Amegadjie), a punter (Tory Taylor), and an edge rusher (Austin Booker) followed on Days 2 and 3.

Washington overlooked any Top Golf strife to take Heisman winner Jayden Daniels at No. 2. First-year GM Adam Peters landed multiple steals on Day 2, including Illinois DT Johnny Newton (the No. 12 player on Cummings’ board), Kansas State TE Ben Sinnott, and TCU tackle/guard Brandon Coleman.

The Patriots grabbed Drake Maye with the third overall pick, then set about filling their other primary needs over the rest of the draft.

WRs Ja’Lynn Polk and Javon Baker could earn immediate targets, while third-round OT Caedan Wallace could start at left tackle.

Winner | Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles’ secondary was largely responsible for the club’s late-season collapse in 2023 and finished 28th in dropback EPA per play. Cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry are both on the wrong side of 30, so GM Howie Roseman — who’d never selected a first-round CB — eschewed his draft tendencies and landed two of the best defensive backs in the draft.

Toledo corner Quinyon Mitchell was the 12th-rated player on the consensus board, but Philadelphia landed him at No. 22. The Eagles didn’t have to trade up for Mitchell, but they moved for Iowa’s Cooper DeJean, sending both of their second-round picks and a fifth to the Commanders for No. 40 and a third. Philadelphia’s secondary should be improved in the near and long term.

Winner | Free Agent RB Ezekiel Elliott

No team needed running back help more than the Dallas Cowboys entering the 2024 NFL Draft. But Jerry Jones and Co. didn’t add a single RB this week, leaving Rico Dowdle, Deuce Vaughn, and Royce Freeman as Dallas’ top runners.

The Cowboys might turn to free agency to augment their backfield, and a reunion with Ezekiel Elliott is on the table. Elliott, who spent the first seven years of his career in Dallas before playing for the Patriots in 2024, is “good enough to be a starter,” Jones said after Day 2. Zeke could rejoin the Cowboys before the weekend concludes.

Loser | Packers RB Josh Jacobs

While the Green Bay Packers’ third-round selection of USC RB Marshawn Lloyd didn’t necessarily start the countdown on Josh Jacobs’ time in green and gold, the ex-Las Vegas Raiders should probably be a little concerned.

Jacobs, who played under the franchise tag in 2023, nominally signed a four-year, $48 million contract with Green Bay in March. But the Packers could easily cut ties after 2024, turning that four-year pact into a one-year, $14.8 million pact.

If Jacobs struggles with injuries again, or Lloyd thrives in his rookie season, Jacobs could hit the free agent market again in 2025.

Loser | Carolina Panthers

It wasn’t a great week for the Carolina Panthers. Team owner David Tepper — who already had a history of embarrassing himself in public — again proved he’s thin-skinned. Once the draft started, first-year Panthers GM Dan Morgan made a potentially egregious error on Day 2 by trading up for Texas RB Jonathon Brooks.

Carolina gave up the equivalent of a mid-third-round pick in surplus value to move up, according to the Fitzgerald-Spielberger draft value chart.

KEEP READING: NFL Draft Grades 2024 — Analysis and Grades for All 7 Rounds of the 2024 NFL Draft

The Panthers finished with the NFL’s worst record in 2023. They’re hardly a running back away from contending, and they’re the last team that should’ve traded for an RB. Adding weapons around second-year QB Bryce Young is admirable, but Carolina overextended themselves.

Winner | University of Michigan and University of Texas

The 2022 Georgia Bulldogs still hold the record for the most players selected in one NFL Draft (15), but a couple of teams came close in 2024.

Michigan had 13 draftees this year, the most in program history. QB J.J. McCarthy (No. 10) was the only first-rounder, while three Wolverines (RB Blake Corum, WR Roman Wilson, G Zak Zinter) went back-to-back-to-back in Round 3.

Somehow, Jim Harbaugh’s Los Angeles Chargers drafted only two Michigan alums: third-round LB Junior Colson. and seventh-round WR Cornelius Johnson.

Texas finished second with 11 prospects in the 2024 NFL Draft. Since the draft moved to seven rounds in 1994, the Longhorns had never had more than six players selected in a single draft. DT Byron Murphy II (No. 16) and WR Xavier Worthy (No. 28) went in Round 1.

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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