NFL Draft News & Analysis

2024 NFL Draft: 3 teams trending up and 3 teams trending down after Round 1

2T2AFME FILE - UCLA defensive lineman Laiatu Latu (15) runs during an NCAA football game against Washington State on Saturday, Oct. 7, 2023, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong, File)

Indianapolis Colts trending up: Snagging the best pass-rusher in the draft, Laiatu Latu, should bolster Indianapolis' defense immediately.

Dallas Cowboys trending down: Grabbing a raw and inexperienced tackle probably isn't the best option for a team that needs their offensive line to contribute early.

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 The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft began with straight offensive players (including six of the first 12 picks quarterbacks), both of which were draft day records.

As always, there were some chalky picks at the beginning of the draft but as the night went on, chaos ensued. With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at three teams trending up, and three teams trending down after the first round:

Trending up 

Chicago Bears

It’s not surprising to see a team that had two top-10 picks getting positive reviews but nonetheless, the Bears came away as clear winners on Thursday night. Quarterback Caleb Williams was the consensus No. 1 overall prospect after putting together three straight 90.0-plus PFF overall grades in college. 

Chicago was able to pair wide receiver Rome Odunze with Williams at ninth overall. Odunze, who would likely be WR1 in most draft years, was the sixth-ranked player on our PFF big board. The former Washington Huskie led all college receivers in receiving yards on passes 20-plus yards downfield over the last two seasons and paired with DJ Moore and Keenan Allen, gives the Bears one of the better wide receiver trios in the NFL. 

Philadelphia Eagles

The Eagles needed a cornerback and saw the board fall perfectly for them, landing a top-10 prospect in Quinyon Mitchell out of Toledo. Mitchell led all FBS cornerbacks in overall grade in each of the last two seasons, forcing more incompletions than any other cornerback in that time.

He is a welcomed addition to Vic Fangio’s defense, a unit that ranked 28th in coverage last season. We have seen Philadelphia find some incredible value in the draft in recent years, and this selection was yet another example of that.

Indianapolis Colts 

The Colts ranked just 26th out of 32 defenses in pressure rate (32%) last season and opted to select the best pure pass-rusher in this class in UCLA edge defender Laiatu Latu. He has been one of the most productive edge prospects we’ve ever graded at PFF, leading all FBS in PFF pass-rush grade (94.5) and pass-rush win rate (23.1%) over the last two seasons.

Despite the medical red flags, Latu was still the first defensive player off the board. If it wasn’t for that, he likely would have been viewed as a consensus top-10 overall prospect this year.

Trending down

Atlanta Falcons 

The most shocking pick of the night came when Atlanta selected Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. eighth overall. Many viewed Penix as a prospect who would likely go round one in a quarterback-starved league, but no one thought he would land with the Falcons after signing Kirk Cousins to a massive deal this offseason.

Penix has the talent to play quarterback at the NFL level, but it’s fair to question what the Falcons were thinking with this pick. Penix turns 24 years old in May and has dealt with numerous significant injuries already.

Falcons head coach Raheem Morris compared this situation to the Green Bay Packers when they selected Jordan Love in 2020. However, when considering that Love was drafted 26th overall and was just 21 years old at the time, it does seem like a stretch to compare the two.

The Falcons would have been wise to address their pass rush or give Cousins another weapon on the offensive side of the ball. It will be interesting to see how this pick shakes out in both the short and long term.

Denver Broncos 

It was not a surprise to see the Denver Broncos draft a quarterback, but QB6 at 12th overall was rather aggressive. It’s possible Denver wanted to move up in the draft for one of the other quarterbacks, but the organization has been depleted of draft picks in recent years and didn’t have the ammo to pull that off. With division rival Las Vegas sitting right behind them at 13th overall, the Broncos may have felt the pressure to reach for Nix in this slot.

 Like Penix, Nix also enters the NFL as a 24-year-old rookie. Unlike Penix, however, Nix will have the opportunity to start from day one. He has starting-caliber tools to succeed but will need some time to read progressions better in the NFL.  

Dallas Cowboys

Offensive line (in particular left tackle) was a major concern for the Cowboys heading into the draft. In Tyler Guyton out of Oklahoma, they hope to have found their left tackle of the future after Tyron Smith moved on to the New York Jets.

You will be hard-pressed to find a better athlete at the tackle position. Guyton is a former tight end/defensive end who didn’t play offensive tackle until he got to college. He can be a very good tackle in the NFL, but he is raw, and his inexperience is visible.

Guyton finished last season with a 59.0 true pass-blocking grade and played all but one of 662 snaps at right tackle. In Dallas, he will likely be tasked with moving to the left side, which is no easy feat. On another team, Guyton is a more logical pick since he is widely viewed as a project that may take some time to develop. The Cowboys are generally perceived to be in a “win now” mode, which makes this more of a risky pick in the short term.

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