NFL Draft: 2024 draft sets record for most offensive players in the 1st round

Three times in NFL Draft history, 19 offensive players were selected in the first round. It happened in 1968, 2004 and 2009.

It was pretty clear in the months leading into this NFL Draft that the record wasn't going to last past 2024.

History was made on Thursday night. When Texas receiver Xavier Worthy was selected at No. 28 by the Kansas City Chiefs after a trade up with the Buffalo Bills, he was the 20th offensive player taken in the first round. That's a new NFL Draft record. And it happened with the 28th pick.

Jayden Daniels and Malik Nabers, teammates at LSU, were both first-round picks in the NFL Draft on Thursday night. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

After Worthy, three of the last four picks of the first round were offensive players. The record of 23 offensive players in the first round might not be broken for a long, long time.

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The run on offensive players started with the first pick, quarterback Caleb Williams to the Chicago Bears, and it became a theme for the first night of the draft. There were six quarterbacks in the first 12 picks, three receivers in the top nine, tight end Brock Bowers at No. 13 and eight offensive linemen. Worthy was the fifth receiver taken. The first 14 players selected were on the offensive side of the ball.

If you needed proof that it's an offensive league, the first round Thursday probably drove home that point.

There had never been 20 offensive players taken in the first round of the NFL Draft, and the common era draft dates back to 1967. There are plenty of reasons that threshold was met for the first time in more than five decades of drafts.

Some of it is luck of the draw. There were many good quarterbacks, receivers and offensive linemen in this NFL Draft. That doesn't happen every year. And on the flip side, there were no elite defensive prospects like Myles Garrett. There wasn't much depth on the defensive side in this class either. The first defensive player didn't come off the board until the 15th pick, which shattered an NFL Draft record.

It also could follow a trend from the college game. Offense has been the focus for a while. For some teams, and some conferences, defense is an afterthought. Perhaps this first round reflects that most of the top talent in the college game is on offense.

The NFL is trending toward offense too, and that means teams are looking for impact players on that side of the ball. When teams are focused on improving in the passing game, that means receivers move their way up draft boards.

No matter the main reason, we've never seen more offensive players go in the first round.

The top of the draft set the tone for the rest of the first round.

Williams went first, a move that has been expected for months. It was considered a strong quarterback class, with Williams, Drake Maye and Jayden Daniels as a consensus top three. Michael Penix Jr., J.J. McCarthy and Bo Nix all went in the top 12 as well.

It was an unusual receiver class, too. Marvin Harrison Jr., Malik Nabers and Rome Odunze were all considered elite prospects and went in the top nine, and multiple other receivers in the class had first-round grades. Brian Thomas Jr. and Worthy ended up in the first round and many more will be selected on Friday in the second and third rounds.

Good offensive linemen have been hard to find coming out of college. But this class had several talented linemen, including top tackles led by Notre Dame's Joe Alt, who went fifth overall to the Los Angeles Chargers. Then add in one elite tight end prospect in Georgia's Bowers, and it was a uniquely deep offensive group in this draft.

Even without a running back coming close to first-round consideration, there were more offensive players than ever in the first round. That reflects the way the game is heading, on the college and pro levels.