3 worst picks of the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft

Hitting on your first-round picks in the NFL isn’t an exact science. History is littered with plenty of bad first-round picks, but there is a difference between a player who busts and a team who makes a bad call on Thursday night.NFL Combine

Whether it is a failure to properly utilize assets or reaching for a player, there were quite a few bad selections in the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft. Let’s break down the five worst picks.

This pick was the most shocking moment of the first round and makes no sense on a number of levels. Atlanta opted to take Penix, who most experts projected to go towards the bottom of the first round, with the eighth overall pick after handing Kirk Cousins $180 million in free agency.

If everything goes according to plan, Cousins will play for the majority of his four-year contract, making this pick the Top 10 version of Jordan Love going to the Green Bay Packers in 2020 when they still had Aaron Rodgers. The Falcons burned a Top 10 pick in a year where they hope to contend, ignoring a defense in need of plenty of help when no defensive players had been selected to that point.

This is an all-time classic case of mismanaging an asset. The Falcons have to hope that Penix follows Love’s career trajectory because wasting a Top 10 pick on a guy who won’t contribute in a perfect world could cost them the playoffs.

The mad scramble for quarterbacks ended with the Broncos, who stayed home at No. 12 and took the sixth quarterback of the first round in Oregon’s Bo Nix. The position was certainly an area of concern for Denver, who moved on from Russell Wilson. Picking a quarterback to add to their room made sense.

The problem is that Nix had a late first-round grade, leaving Denver in a tough spot since the desperation teams had to find quarterbacks this year meant a trade back to get him at a more appropriate draft slot likely wasn’t available. Taking Nix at No. 12 potentially solves a very important position long term but there were more sure things available for Denver there, including every defensive player who could have helped a unit that has needs in the secondary and at pass rush.

The question here is whether it was smarter to grab a quarterback you like now or fill another hole with an eye toward filling the quarterback hole in the 2025 draft. Unlike the Giants, who took an elite receiving prospect in Malik Nabers and bypassed the last three passers in this crop, Denver felt like they had to land a quarterback at the expense of safer bets at other positions.

One of the more fascinating prospects in this draft class is Brock Bowers, the tight end from Georgia who has been called a unicorn in the pre-draft process. The hit rate on first-round tight ends isn’t great, so it was a bit surprising to see the Raiders ignore traditional position value to take Bowers with the 13th overall pick.

There is no question that Bowers can add another dynamic talent to the Raiders’ receiving corps alongside Davante Adams and Jakobi Meyers. The problem is that Las Vegas invested a second-round pick at tight end last year with Michael Mayer, making the Bowers choice more of a luxury when the Raiders had several glaring needs to address along the offensive line and on defense.

While there were no quarterbacks worth the 13th pick, taking Bowers instead of an offensive linemen is irresponsible given the state of the franchise. Whether it is Gardner Minshew or Aidan O’Connell under center in Las Vegas doesn’t matter since they may not have a ton of time to find Bowers given the questionable line construction.

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