The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


The Student News Site of Chatham University


Benji’s 2024 NFL Draft First Round Grades

The first round of the 2024 NFL Draft has come to an end, and only time will tell if these teams made the right pick or not. That being said, half the fun of the draft is the gut reaction the viewers and fans have to the picks. I will be grading all 32 picks in the first round. What’s important to consider when grading picks is not only who the player is, but also considering where they were picked and who else was on the board.

Included at the bottom of this round’s grades are the best players left on the board after night one.

Chicago Bears select Caleb Williams, Quarterback, USC

Grade: A

The Bears had the first pick, and they didn’t overthink it. Caleb Williams at number one made way too much sense, and he gives the Bears a chance to finally have a franchise quarterback.

Washington Commanders select Jayden Daniels, Quarterback, LSU

Grade: B-

Daniels is not a bad player at all. He can definitely become a franchise quarterback for the Commanders. However, I just believe Drake Maye is a fantastic talent and should have been the pick. Nonetheless, this isn’t a bad pick. Washington believed in their guy and selected him at No. 2.

New England Patriots select Drake Maye, Quarterback, UNC

Grade: A+

As I said in my final mock draft, if Drake Maye is on the board at the Patriotss pick then the Patriots need to select him. Maye can be a generational type player at the next level. My only concern is that the Patriots do not have a good situation for a quarterback right now. However, this does not mean you pass on a guy who would probably be the best quarterback in the class next year. 

Arizona Cardinals select Marvin Harrison Jr., Wide Receiver, Ohio State

Grade: A

Another easy pick. The Cardinals had a need for a receiver, and there’s no need to trade down when the best one falls to you at four. 

Los Angeles Chargers select Joe Alt, Offensive Tackle, Notre Dame

Grade: A

The Chargers have so many needs that as long as the team addressed one of them with one of the best players at that position, it would likely be a good move. Joe Alt is, in my opinion, the best tackle in the class. This is a good pick for the Chargers as I imagine Alt is going to have a long successful career in the league.

New York Giants select Malik Nabers, Wide Receiver, LSU

Grade: A+

The Giants were rumored to be interested in taking a quarterback with this pick. However, with the top three QBs off the board, taking Malik Nabers is a no-brainer. He is easily one of the best players in the class, and the Giants desperately need help at the position. 

Tennessee Titans select JC Latham, Offensive Tackle, Alabama

Grade: B-

The Titans needed a tackle and drafted one. I think JC Latham is a good player, however I preferred some of the other options that were on the board. This is not at all a bad pick, and I also am not claiming to know more about offensive linemen than NFL scouts. I just feel like No. 7 is a little high for Latham while players like Fashanu and Fuaga were still available.

Atlanta Falcons select Michael Penix Jr., Quarterback, Washington

Grade: F

Wow. This pick was an absolute shocker. Here’s the thing, I don’t want people thinking that I hate Michael Penix Jr. I don’t. I think he is talented and has potential in the league. That being said, I have several problems with this pick. The first being that the Falcons just signed Kirk Cousins to a four-year $180 million dollar contract. Second being, the quarterback the Falcons just drafted is a 24-year-old rookie with a long history of injuries. I also don’t think that Penix is the best quarterback on the board at this spot. Alongside the concerns I previously mentioned, I don’t love Penix’s accuracy. He had a lot of help from great receivers who would catch anything thrown at them and he played behind a great offensive line in Washington. Overall, I think the Falcons made a gigantic reach for a player at a position the team didn’t really need. This pick has the potential to be one of the worst draft picks of all time. 

Chicago Bears select Rome Odunze, Wide Receiver, Washington

Grade: A+

Rome Odunze is such a great player, and with this pick, the Chicago Bears add another weapon for its rookie quarterback Caleb Williams to throw to. The Bears’ offense now looks dynamic, and I believe the team has the capabilities to turn its franchise around similar to the way the Houston Texans did after last year’s draft.

TRADE: Minnesota Vikings (via New York Jets) select JJ McCarthy, Quarterback, Michigan

Grade: B

JJ McCarthy is a good player with his biggest downside being his low volume of passes compared to other quarterbacks in this draft. That being said, he has great traits and Minnesota is the best spot for him to land. The fact that the Vikings were able to select him by only moving up one spot and not into the top five is a huge win for them.

New York Jets (via Minnesota Vikings) select Olu Fashanu, Offensive Tackle, Penn State

Grade: A-

The Jets added two veteran offensive linemen in the offseason in Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses. These two players, however, are older and somewhat injury-prone, so adding one of the top tackles in the league is a great roster move. The only thing that holds me back on this pick is if your intentions are to make the push to go all the way while you have Aaron Rodgers on your roster, I think the smarter pick would be to draft a playmaker, such as Brock Bowers, to add to your offense. Fashanu is a great player though, and it’s clear the Jets are looking at their future, not just this upcoming season.

Denver Broncos select Bo Nix, Quarterback, Oregon

Grade: C

As I had stated in my mock draft, I believe Bo Nix at No. 12 is a reach, though I understand the pick. The Broncos have a terrible quarterback room, and by the time the draft reaches this pick, five quarterbacks have already been selected. If you want to upgrade your quarterback room, you have to do it with this pick and it has to be with Nix. A bit of a reach nonetheless.

 Las Vegas Raiders select Brock Bowers, Tight End, Georgia

Grade: C+

I think Brock Bowers is a fantastic player. That being said, I think the Raiders had so many bigger needs. With all the cornerbacks on the board, along with many of the top tackles still available, I don’t think the Bowers pick makes sense. I understand going best player available, but this pick continues to baffle me.

New Orleans Saints select Taliese Fuaga, Offensive Tackle, Oregon State

Grade: A

This is pretty self-explanatory. The Saints needed an offensive lineman and they drafted the best ones on the board. It’s hard to argue with this pick.

Indianapolis Colts select Laiatu Latu, Edge Rusher, UCLA

Grade: A+

Laiatu Latu is the best defensive player in the class in my opinion, and I’m happy to see him be the first one off the board. The Colts reinforce their defensive line with Latu who can be a day-one starter for a long time.

Seattle Seahawks select Byron Murphy II, Defensive Tackle, Texas

Grade: A

I know it seems like I’m giving every pick an A (which is a trend that will continue), but this is a really good class, and a lot of teams are making the right decisions. Byron Murphy is another fantastic player, at a position of need for the Seahawks. While I do think it would’ve made sense to draft an interior offensive lineman, that is a position you could always address later in the draft.

TRADE: Minnesota Vikings (via Jacksonville Jaguars) select Dallas Turner, Edge Rusher, Alabama

Grade: A+

The Vikings are killing this draft. The team managed to grab its potential franchise quarterback, and now it grabs a dynamic edge rusher. Turner is so talented, and Vikings fans should be very happy with the results of the first round.

Cincinnati Bengals select Amarius Mims, Offensive Tackle, Georgia

Grade: A

Once Mims reached this pick, it was very clear he would be a Cincinnati Bengal. Another great example of a team not overthinking its pick and taking one of the best players available at the position it most needs to address.

Los Angeles Rams select Jared Verse, Edge Rusher, Florida State

Grade: A

The Rams could’ve gone any number of directions with this pick, but Verse makes a lot of sense. The team grabs a super-talented player to help beef up its defensive line.

Pittsburgh Steelers select Troy Fautanu, Offensive Tackle, Washington

Grade: A

As much as I hate to admit it as a certified Steelers hater, the team made a great pick here. Fautanu has great flexibility as to where he plays on the line, and the Steelers need offensive line help all around. This is a great pick, and if you’re a Pittsburgh fan you should be thrilled.

Miami Dolphins select Chop Robinson, Edge Rusher, Penn State

Grade: B-

While I don’t necessarily think it’s a reach to take Chop Robinson at No. 21, I was surprised to see the Dolphins go in this direction. I like Robinson as a player, but the grade falls simply due to the fact that I feel like the Dolphins needed to look in a different direction with this first pick. Robinson, however, does have arguably the highest upside out of anyone in this class.

Philadelphia Eagles select Quinyon Mitchell, Cornerback, Toledo

Grade: A

Quinyon Mitchell is the player I had the Eagles taking in my mock draft, however, I had the team trading up to get him. In reality, Philadelphia is able to grab a number one corner, and arguably the best cornerback in the class, without having to move up for him.

Jacksonville Jaguars select Brian Thomas Jr., Wide Receiver, LSU

Grade: A

Brian Thomas Jr. is such a talented player. I think the Jaguars would look to take him with its pick at No. 17, but after trading down and receiving several picks as compensation, the team gets the best receiver left on the board.

TRADE: Detroit Lions (via Dallas Cowboys) select Terrion Arnold, Cornerback, Alabama

Grade: A+

With the large number of offensive players going at the top of the draft, the top defensive players have fallen. The Lions take advantage and move up to grab one of the best players in the class, and Detroit desperately needed a cornerback. 

Green Bay Packers select Jordan Morgan, Offensive Tackle, Arizona

Grade: C

Jordan Morgan isn’t a bad player, but this pick felt like a reach, especially with players like Graham Barton and Tyler Guyton on the board. I also liked the fit of Cooper DeJean here. Regardless, Jordan Morgan has good potential, and the Packers do need offensive line help. 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Graham Barton, Offensive Lineman, Duke

Grade: A+

Tampa Bay desperately needed help on the interior of its offensive line, and I love Graham Barton. I believe Barton was one of the best players left on the board at this pick, and clearly so did the Buccaneers. A great pick.

Arizona Cardinals select Darius Robinson, Edge Rusher, Missouri

Grade: C-

I like Darius Robinson, however, I feel like the Cardinals could’ve drafted him in the second round. With Cooper DeJean, Nate Wiggins, Kool-Aid McKinstry, and Johnny Newton all still on the board, they all feel like first-round-caliber players over Robinson.

TRADE: Kansas City Chiefs (via Buffalo Bills) select Xavier Worthy, Wide Receiver, Texas

Grade: B+

I hate that the Bills made this trade, but this is a great pick for the Chiefs. Worthy offers elite speed that the Chiefs have succeeded with in the past with Tyreek Hill. The only reason I don’t give this pick an A is due to the fact that the Chiefs already have a deep-speed receiver in Hollywood Brown, and I believe there are two to three better receivers available. 

Dallas Cowboys (via Detroit Lions) select Tyler Guyton, Offensive Tackle, Oklahoma

Grade: B

I honestly don’t have much to say about this pick. The Cowboys felt they needed a tackle and took the best one available. Personally, I like Jackson Powers-Johnson at center better than I like Guyton at tackle. 

Baltimore Ravens select Nate Wiggins, Cornerback, Clemson

Grade: A

The Ravens checked the board and took one of the best players available. Nate Wiggins has great upside and potential, and the Ravens is a great spot for him to go to develop. 

San Francisco 49ers select Ricky Pearsall, Wide Receiver, Florida

Grade: D

Here it is, the 49ers decide they like Ricky Pearsall over Adonai Mitchell, Keon Coleman and Ladd McCokey, just to name a few receivers on the board that are better than Pearsall. This selection does seem to help push the rumors that the team is looking to trade either Deebo Samuel or Brandon Aiyuk. I just struggle to understand why you go with Ricky Pearsall when there are better players available. He’s a good player, don’t get me wrong. Me grading this a D doesn’t necessarily mean he’s bad. He could end up being a really good player. However, my gut reaction tells me this is a giant reach. The 49ers likely could have grabbed Kool-Aid McKinstry or Johnny Newton here and then taken Pearsall in the second, even if the 49ers had to move up a few spots to get him. The team clearly saw something it liked to make him a first-round pick, now they just need to hope it pays off. 

TRADE: Carolina Panthers (via Buffalo Bills (via Kansas City Chief)) select Xavier Legette, Wide Receiver, South Carolina

Grade: C-

This pick has me feeling similar to the Pearsall pick, however, I like Legette a bit more than I like Pearsall. The Panthers moved up one spot to grab their guy, and it seems the team was so focused on getting Legette that they didn’t realize who was still on the board. Whoever is able to get Adonai Mitchell, Ladd McConkey and Keon Coleman in the second round is going to look like a genius. Legette is not a bad player, I would be very disappointed at who my team missed out on if I was a Panthers fan.


The second and third rounds of the NFL Draft take place at 8 p.m. on April 26. Here are the best players left on the board.

Best Players Available:

  • Cooper DeJean, Defensive Back, Iowa
  • Jer’Zhan Newton, Defensive Tackle, Illinois
  • Adonai Mitchell, Wide Receiver, Texas
  • Jackson Powers-Johnson, Offensive Center, Oregon
  • Ladd McConkey, Wide Receiver, Georgia
  • Kool Aid McKinstry, Cornerback, Alabama
  • Keon Coleman, Wide Receiver, Florida State
  • Kingsley Suamataia, Offensive Tackle, BYU
  • Trey Benson, Running Back, Florida State
  •  Junior Colson, Linebacker, Michigan
  •  Tyler Nubin, Safety, Minnesota
  •  Edgerin Cooper, Linebacker, Texas A&M
  •  Marshawn Kneeland, Edge Rusher, Western Michigan
  •  Chris Braswell, Edge Rusher, Alabama
  •  Mike Sanristil, Cornerback, Michigan
  •  Braden Fiske, Defensive Tackle, Florida State
  •  Ennis Rakestraw Jr., Cornerback, Missouri
  •  Zach Frazier, Offensive Center, Michigan
  •  Ja’Lynn Polk, Wide Receiver, Washington
  •  Troy Franklin, Wide Receiver, Oregon 

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