Articles & Features
10 Burning Questions for the 2024 NFL Draft
Photo: Nov 4, 2023; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback J.J. McCarthy (9) gets set to run a play against the Purdue Boilermakers in the first half at Michigan Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

10 Burning Questions for the 2024 NFL Draft

With just one more day until the 2024 NFL Draft, many questions still linger. How many QBs will go top-10? How many trades will shake things up? Will we see any NFL stars on the move Thursday?

Let’s dive in and see what burning questions are still outstanding as we determine what we have in store Thursday night - the best evening of the year

1. Who will Washington pick with the second pick and how many quarterbacks will go top-five?

As of Tuesday evening, the betting markets have Jayden Daniels as the favorite to go second overall to Washington, with his odds sitting comfortably at -390, compared to +370 for Drake Maye and +1000 for JJ McCarthy. How this is being determined by the books can only be deduced as conjecture and/or voodoo, as Washington has been incredibly tight-lipped publicly about their process, providing the public little-to-no tangible leaks regarding the franchise’s desired future signal caller. Should Washington expectedly select QB2 at second overall, the odds makers are prognosticating that New England, at pick three, will take the second choice between Maye and Daniels. Should that all go as expected, then JJ McCarthy would be the lone tier-one quarterback left on the board. With Arizona and the Chargers sitting at picks four and five, very much open to trading down, and with QB-needy teams like the Giants, Vikings and Broncos all within striking distance for a trade-up, 2024 could be the first time in NFL history that four quarterbacks get selected within the first five selections. Sportsbooks currently have the odds of the first four picks being all quarterbacks sitting at just +170, signaling that we should be ready to see some history be made on Thursday night.

2. Which team outside the top-10 is most likely to trade up?

Minnesota looks poised to be the most likely team to finagle a trade into the top-five or top-10 for a quarterback, considering they are a team with the most draft capital to offer. Earlier in the offseason, the Vikings worked out a deal with Texans that yielded Minnesota the 23rd overall pick that Houston acquired from Cleveland in the DeShaun Watson deal. Sitting at pick 12, the QB-needy Broncos could also be a team that moves up for a future signal caller. The one issue standing in Denver’s way, however, is its lack of draft capital, dealing its second round pick this year to New Orleans for Sean Payton. Denver’s aforementioned head coach did say this week, however, that it could be “realistic,” his team trading up for a quarterback, despite the limited draft capital they have, should they characterize one QB as a potential franchise-defining player. If there’s any team more unphased by the topic of wagering their franchise’s future on player they like “right now” more than the Broncos, it would be Sean McVay, Les Snead and the LA Rams – don’t be surprised if team “F*** Them Picks” makes a bold move up the draft board Thursday night.

3. Will any trades for star players shake up the draft?

The two players who are most likely to be on new teams come Friday morning are disgruntled pass catchers Tee Higgins and Brandon Aiyuk. Both players are currently in a stalemate with their respective franchises, desiring top-notch contract extensions despite neither being a the number-one receiver for their current clubs. Bengals decision maker Duke Tobin and 49ers GM John Lynch have both come out publicly saying that they don’t foresee either of their respective young receivers to be moved this offseason, each player’s frustration notwithstanding. Two years ago, we all heard a similar tune by the Titans and Ravens surrounding AJ Brown and Hollywood Brown, before both players were ultimately moved during round one to Philadelphia and Arizona, respectively. Wide receiver-needy teams in the mid-to-late first round this year like Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Buffalo could be potential destinations for these two emerging talents.

4. Who will be the first defensive player drafted and when will he be selected?

This is bound to be a first round chockablock with offensive players, with 21 of the top 32 players on the consensus board currently representing that side of the ball. The most likely destination for the draft’s initial defensive selection is the Falcons at pick number eight. Atlanta addressed its quarterback need with the signing of Kirk Cousins, which, in theory, should be the sole missing ingredient needed to unlock the talents of previous first rounders Kyle Pitts, Drake London and Bijan Robinson. The odds-on favorite to be the first defensive player taken is Alabama pass rusher Dallas Turner, followed by UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, then Texas’ Byron Murphy. Keep an eye on cornerbacks Quinyon Mitchell and Terrion Arnold as well – the CB group is top heavy this year and historically it is a position with a very low hit rate after round one. Teams in need of a defensive back may feel compelled to take their future CBs early, rather than circling back on day two.

5. Which consensus first-rounder is most likely to fall outside Round One?

There’s always a player that slides completely out of round one, despite being firmly inside the top-32 on the consensus big board and a universal fixture in first round mock drafts. Last season, those players were cornerback Joey Porter Jr. and quarterback Will Levis. Both Porter and Levis were invited to the draft, fully expected to go inside the top-20 picks. Instead, they both fell out of round one entirely, before being scooped up with the top two picks the following day. This season, the player most likely in for a draft day slide is Iowa cornerback Cooper DeJean. Draft analysts have been all over the place evaluating the former Hawkeye, some seeing him as a top-10 player, with others seeing him incapable of playing corner at the pro level, citing his lackluster lateral movement skills. DeJean didn’t do himself many favors dispelling those concerns in his private workout earlier this month. After recovering from a late-season broken leg, DeJean missed Iowa’s scheduled pro day, and during his own workout, opted to perform in just the 40 and the jumps, skipping the change-of-direction drills.

Another player possibly in store for a slide out of round one is UCLA’s Laiatu Latu. Despite having undeniable tape and sensational workout numbers, the former Bruin pass rusher may find himself removed from team’s draft boards altogether due to medical concerns. Before transferring to UCLA, Latu was medically retired by the staff at the University of Washington. Should the NFL doctors echo the same concerns of that from the Huskie staff, Latu could fall.

6. Which player currently outside the top-32 on the consensus board has the best chance of being selected in Round One?

Several players currently outside the top-32 on the consensus board have been linked recently as being surprise pick in the back half of Thursday’s first round. Missouri edge rusher Darius Robinson and Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman each had some of the best 2023 game tape available, but underwhelmed in their athletic testing, removing them from the round one conversation. Michigan CB Mike Sainristil started the draft process as a fringe day-two prospect. Since then, his stock has been elevated to that of a late first rounder after performing well at the Combine in both the athletic tests and the interviews. An out-of-left-field prediction as a surprise first rounder is Texas A&M linebacker Edgerrin Cooper. The former Aggie is currently 39th on the consensus board, a slot likely influenced by the NFL’s “runningbackification” of the linebacker position in recent seasons. Should a team desire an off-ball linebacker in the latter portion of round one, don’t be surprised to hear Cooper’s name called.

7. When will the run of wide receivers begin?

Heading into Thursday, the top three receivers are clear cut: Marvin Harrison Jr. will go first, followed by LSU’s Malik Nabers, then Washington’s Rome Odunze, with all players expected to go with the top-10 picks. After that, things get a little less certain. Due to the depth of the tier-two and tier-three receivers in this class, it would be unsurprising to see receiver-needy teams in the back half of round one passing on pass catchers, and instead opt to address the position in rounds two and three. With that in mind, when the run starts, it should start in earnest, with many receivers coming off the board in lumps. Starting at pick 25 through the end of round two, it would not be terribly shocking to see 10-12 more receivers drafted, with Brian Thomas Jr., AD Mitchell, Ladd McConkey, Xavier Worthy, Troy Franklin, Keon Coleman, Xavier Legette, Ricky Pearsall, Roman Wilson, Ja’Lynn Polk and Malachi Corley all ranked inside the top 64 players on the consensus board.

8. Will we see Michael Penix Jr. and Bo Nix taken in Round One?

Both Penix and Nix have seen their stocks roller coaster since the start of the 2023 season. The two gunslinger QBs and Heisman finalists were instrumental in the west coast offensive renaissance at their respective programs before lackluster postseason performances dimmed their stars. Penix and Nix both have the skill and the sterling character to thrive at the next level, but their accuracy issues and the fact that both took until their age-23 season to blossom has given NFL executives pause. Neither is firmly a top-32 talent but considering the plethora of QB-needy teams in the NFL currently, it would be unsurprising to see both players go round one in order for their drafting franchises to take advantage of the fifth-year option.

9. How long will we wait until a running back gets drafted?

Short answer, a long time. In addition to simply being a devalued position in the NFL, this draft class does not offer any exceptions to the anti-RB rule. Currently, Texas’ Jonathan Brooks is ranked as the top running back and sits 50th on the consensus board, followed by Michigan’s Blake Corum and Florida State’s Trey Benson, with Louisville’s Isaac Guerendo getting some love as a killer sleeper pick. Round three may be the sweet spot for the running back position this year, with the Texans and/or Cowboys in the final portion of the second round as the teams most likely to pull the trigger first.  

10. Which deep-sleepers are most likely to be this year’s Brock Purdy / Puka Nucua /  Kobie Turner?

This is where it gets purely subjective. There’s plenty of players this season that I don’t think are getting the love they deserve. Florida State DL Braden Fiske, Michigan CB Mike Sainristil and Florida State WR Keon Coleman look poised to be second round selections but have the on-field production that most assuredly would back up a top-32 pick. Looking a little further down the board, Duke DL DeWayne Carter, currently 107th on the consensus board, is one my favorite players in this draft. Carter looked very solid down in Mobile during Senior Bowl week, getting props from his peers for both his talent and his intelligence, some teammates even insisting that the former Blue Devil “could be president one day.”

Going like-for-like, the player that could best replicate the success of Brock Purdy is Florida State’s Jordan Travis. The former Seminole famously did not get to show off his skillset in the postseason this year but has reportedly impressed with his character and intelligence in interviews – and he throws a pretty solid ball too. If you’re looking for a fifth-round receiver to light up the league in his rookie season like Nacua, I would advise you to temper your expectations. With that said, if one mid-to-late round pass catcher is best poised to break out early, I would toss my lot in with Malik Washington of Virginia. Washington was PFF’s 3rd ranked receiver in all of college football last season despite suffering through horrendous quarterback play. In addition, the former Cavalier and Northwestern transfer put together a solid performance at the Combine, tallying a sub 4.50 forty-yard dash with a 42.5-inch vertical jump.