Wild NFL Draft sets records as Falcons shock the league

Apr. 26—What started as a cookie-cutter night quickly unraveled into utter chaos as the NFL hosted its annual draft in the heart of Detroit, Michigan.

Fans have known for months that USC's Caleb Williams would be drafted No. 1 overall, despite the noise that LSU's Jaydon xq made. No one was quite sure who would go No. 2, but there was no doubt that Daniels and UNC's Drake Maye would go two and three to Washington and New England respectively.

Those were bound to be followed by Marvin Harrison Jr. to Arizona. It seemed like a good draft for mocks and experts from ESPN, The Athletic and other sports news sources had pretty solidly predicted the first round.

Then came Atlanta.

In the offseason, the Falcons were a hot topic. They were in the running for both Justin Fields and Kirk Cousins and ultimately signed Cousins away from Minnesota to secure a QB who could take them to the playoffs. Atlanta signed Cousins to a $180 million deal with $90 million guaranteed. Because of this many had the Falcons taking an edge rusher like Laiatu Latu out of UCLA or Alabama's Dallas Turner.

Instead, the Falcons shocked the NFL world by taking quarterback Michael Penix Jr. out of Washington. Many, like CBS Sports, had Penix outside of the top 10 and some ESPN mocks had Penix outside of the first round. Now, why Atlanta did this is another story entirely, but as for the rest of the draft, this pick led to an offensive feeding frenzy.

Minnesota quickly took JJ McCarthy out of Michigan, a pick most expected, and Denver took Oregon's Bo Nix at 12, leaving Las Vegas at a total loss. For weeks, the Raiders have shown their cards, telling the world exactly what they wanted. They wanted, and needed, a quarterback and Penix was their guy.

Suddenly, not only was Penix gone, but so were all six of the top tier quarterback. There is a steep drop off in talent between Bo Nix and Spencer Rattler, seen by many as the best second-tier quarterback in the draft. But Rattler is not worth a top 15 pick so, the Raiders went with Brock Bowers out of Georgia.

There was not a defensive player selected until the 15th pick when the Colts took Latu, setting an NFL draft record for the most offensive players picked in a row and the latest the first defensive player has been drafted. The historic and wild first round also tied the record for most quarterback taken in the first round at six. That has only happened three time in the modern draft era and never this quickly. Six of the first twelve picks in the draft were quarterbacks and most mock drafts had three of those QBs outside of the top ten.

All of this only benefited the teams drafting later in the first round. The Eagles were able to pick up Quinyon Mitchell at 22, inarguably the best defensive back in the draft, while Brian Thomas Jr. and Xavier Worthy, who are highly touted receivers, fell into the 20s. The Jaguars were able to snag Thomas to get some help for Trevor Lawrence.

This was without a doubt one of the most exciting NFL drafts in recent memory. Electrifying players, shocking picks, trades and more were on display in Detroit and that was just round one. It's likely that round two won't be as exciting, though it could still present some excitement as many top prospects are still on the board. But, the first round of the 2024 NFL Draft left many fans sitting back in their seats wondering what they just witnessed.