10 biggest overreactions to 2024 NFL Draft: Falcons failed Kirk Cousins, Bears became contenders, & more

There are always fair reactions to an NFL draft — and there are always blatantly overhyped overreactions.

The 2024 NFL Draft is no different, as some negative takes got too much shade and some positive storylines got too much sunshine.

Based on the biggest headlines from all seven rounds — starting with the biggest headliners at quarterback — here’s bringing reality to the hyperbole.

MORE NFL DRAFT 2024: Best values | Biggest reaches | Biggest steals | Best UDFAs

10 worst overreactions from 2024 NFL Draft

“Falcons failed Kirk Cousins by drafting Michael Penix Jr.”

Kirk Cousins

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The Falcons’ pick of Michael Penix Jr. No. 8 overall in the first round was a misstep in terms of delivering short-term impact for the new NFC South favorites. However, looking beyond 2024, there was reason for adding an upside QB behind a 36-year-old coming off a torn Achilles.

Penix is a perfect fit for Zac Robinson’s Rams-like passing system, and the Falcons felt that had to jump on that player while they could. They also will get the extra effect of motivating Cousins to not only make sure he’s healthy for Week 1, but to also stay on top of his game after thriving in the Vikings’ similar offense.

Now Cousins has a better backup than holdover Taylor Heinicke, and the Falcons are set up well short- and long-term. Cousins is still getting paid plenty on top of his career haul and won’t lose his starting spot, so it’s difficult to get too upset about the Penix pick for now.

FALCONS DRAFT MICHAEL PENIX: 
Comparing ATL QB contracts | Why Falcons made pick | Cousins reactionBlank-Fontenot video

“The Raiders and Giants were better off not taking a quarterback”

The Raiders saw six first-round quarterbacks go off the board in the first 12 picks and didn’t have a shot at No. 13 overall. The Giants didn’t get into the Michael Penix Jr. or J.J. McCarthy business, which was fine given their lofty draft positions. However, for both teams to completely ignore their QB rooms was not a good idea, especially with intriguing projects such as Spencer Rattler, Michael Pratt, and Jordan Travis available on Day 3.

The Raiders hinted at someone being drafted to battle Gardner Minshew and Aidan O’Connell. Now, all they have is a so-so bridge and a second-year lame duck. Daniel Jones is recovering from a torn ACL for the Giants. Drew Lock and Tommy DeVito clearly don’t inspire much confidence, either, considering the Giants were talking QB at No. 6.

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At some point, these teams will have to address the position, and failing to do so in a QB-rich draft seems like a mistake. 

MORE 2024 NFL DRAFT: Full list of picks | Winners & losers | Draft grades for every team

“The Chiefs made the worthiest wide receiver pick in the entire draft”

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Everyone’s geeked about the Chiefs’ adding Xavier Worthy, the fastest wideout in NFL Combine history, to catch passes from Patrick Mahomes. But the Chiefs also reached for pure big-play speed in the first round, and if Rashee Rice isn’t disciplined, Worthy will have a tough time getting key snaps and targets as the outside No. 2 opposite Marquise Brown behind big slot Rice and tight end Travis Kelce.

Based on talent and depth charts, Marvin Harrison Jr. Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas Jr., Keon Coleman, and Ladd McConkey all landed in better spots to give their teams immediate impact. Worthy was gravy for the Chiefs and will need a Brown injury to show big dividends as a rookie.

MORE: Bills help Chiefs land Worthy in surprising trade

“The Bills and Chargers whiffed by not taking wide receivers in the first round”

Speaking of Coleman and McConkey, the Bills and Chargers did just fine with their first picks after cleaning moving on from Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis and Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, respectively. This was a deep WR draft even after Harrison, Nabers, and Odunze. The Bills took advantage of a trade-down, and the Chargers also were able to get the draft’s best offensive tackle Joe Alt. They both pulled off smart win-wins.

“The Broncos reached for Bo Nix as the No. 6 QB on the board”

The Broncos didn’t take NIx at No. 12 out of desperation after the top-five quarterbacks were off the board. Sean Payton was on him since early in the draft process as the ideal pocket passer for his system. They also ended up with a strong WR value later, reuniting Nix with Troy Franklin. Denver may have been locked into Nix in terms of non-Caleb Williams QB of choice.

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MORE: Bo Nix and Troy Franklin’s stats together at Oregon

“The Steelers are the new team to beat in the AFC North”

The Steelers got an A+ in the draft grades from Sporting News with Troy Fautanu, Zach Frazier, Payton Wilson, and Roman Wilson being some of the highlights. Unfortunately for them, Lamar Jackson’s Ravens and Joe Burrow’s Bengals also aced this draft.

Jackson is a league MVP, and Burrow has been to the Super Bowl. The Steelers did well to upgrade the skill positions, offensive line, and defense. But now it comes down to Russell Wilson and/or Justin Fields redeeming themselves with Comeback Player of the Year-type play to steal the division from the more established QB-led powers.

“The Cowboys were wise to focus most on the offensive line”

Jerry Jones was tapping into a familiar past formula from a decade-plus ago when Dallas got Tyron Smith, Travis Frederick, and Zack Martin in three of four first rounds through 2014. Tackle Tyler Guyton and guard Cooper Beebe were their best picks in 2024, but they also didn’t draft a much-needed running back and didn’t bother with a strong WR class until Round 6.

Line was important inside and out, but so was rebooting the weapons for Dak Prescott. Instead, now they’re trying to throw it back with Ezekiel Elliott on the ground and hoping someone emerges as an upgrade from Michael Gallup. That’s a bit off in what feels like a make-or-break year for Prescott.

“The Bears are NFC North contenders with Caleb Williams”

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Williams upgrades quarterback in Chicago big-time, and he can lead a quick turnaround with a revamped and reloaded offense. But the Lions are roaring more as the NFC North favorites, and the Packers will build on their Jordan Love momentum. The Vikings also can feel they are ready to win big again with J.J. McCarthy.

The Bears could finish 9-8 in a two-game improvement and still be disappointed as a non-playoff team given how strong the division and NFC as a whole are. 

MORE: Caleb Williams text to fourth-round pick Tory Taylor: ‘You’re not going to punt too much’

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“Caleb Williams, Jayden Daniels, or J.J. McCarthy will win OROY”

The quarterbacks are in the spotlight again after C.J. Stroud won AP Offensive Rookie of the Year. However, the Sporting News’ overall ROY was Puka Nacua, the Rams’ steal of a fifth-round pick in 2023. Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase won for SN back-ot-back in 2020 and 2021. A wide receiver is the best bet for both AP and SN in 2024.

There’s a good chance Williams, Daniels, and McCarthy all play at similar levels for much-improved teams. That will keep things tight in the “best rookie QB” battle, but Marvin Harrison Jr. is almost a lock to blow up as the Cardinals’ clear No. 1 wide receiver. Park the rest and take “Maserati Marv.”

“Dallas Turner is the favorite to win DROY”

Turner was supposed to be the first defensive player drafted, but the Alabama edge rusher fell to No. 17 overall to the Vikings. That team is reloaded with pass rushers, though, including Jonathan Greenard and Andrew Van Ginkel. Likewise, Laiatu Latu will join a productive front in Indianapolis.

Meanwhile, Jared Verse is going to the Rams to start on the edge opposite promising second-year player Byron Young. He is a savvy sack artist and will get to keep working behind fellow former Florida State star Braden Fiske. The Rams also need to rev up a different style of pass rush under Chris Shula minus Aaron Donald’s inside force. Young had eight sacks had a rookie; Verse can do better than that, get into double-digits, and steal the award.

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