2024 NFL Draft explainer: Who, what and where?

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2024 NFL Draft explainer: Who, what and where?

The 2024 NFL Draft is here, with teams around the league primed to strengthen their rosters with the top college talent from across the nation.

Here is your quick guide to this year’s Draft, all three days of which you can watch live on Sky Sports…

2024 NFL Draft

When Thursday April 25-Saturday April 27
Where Detroit, Michigan
First pick Chicago Bears
Most picks Cardinals, Bills, Rams, Packers (11)
Fewest picks Bears (4)
Mr. Irrelevant (last pick) New York Jets
How many picks overall? 257

What is the NFL Draft and how do I watch?

The NFL Draft is the annual highlight of the league’s offseason calendar as teams seek to strengthen by taking their pick from hundreds of college football’s top prospects over seven rounds staged across three days, all of which can be seen live on Sky Sports.

One by one, teams will select eligible prospects from across the country with which to strengthen their rosters ahead of the new season.

Before then, fans can follow build-up to the Draft on Sky Sports Action through Pro Football Talk, Total Access, Good Morning Football and Daniel Jeremiah’s Mock Draft show.

Live on Sky Sports Action:

  • 1am, Friday April 25: Round One
  • 12am, Saturday April 26: Rounds Two and Three
  • 5pm, Saturday April 27: Rounds Four, Five, Six and Seven

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Watch the best bits from Kansas City’s thrilling Super Bowl win over San Francisco

How is the order of the draft determined?

As is tradition, the draft order is decided on a worst-to-first basis according to the previous season’s standings, with the reigning back-to-back Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs occupying the final pick of the first round after beating the San Francisco 49ers in Las Vegas to lift the Lombardi Trophy for a second straight season in February.

The first overall selection typically belongs to the team with the worst record in the league, which would have been the Carolina Panthers after their 2-15 finish to the campaign. However, the Chicago Bears occupy the first pick in 2024 having acquired the selection from the Panthers as part of the trade that saw Carolina move up in 2023 to take quarterback Bryce Young at No 1.

The Washington Commanders currently sit in the No 2 pick after finishing 4-13, followed by the New England Patriots (4-13), the Arizona Cardinals (4-13) the Los Angeles Chargers (5-12) and the New York Giants (6-11).

2024 NFL Draft: First round picks (subject to change)

NFL Draft order (subject to change)

1. Chicago Bears
2. Washington Commanders
3. New England Patriots
4. Arizona Cardinals
5. Los Angeles Chargers
6. New York Giants
7. Tennessee Titans
8. Atlanta Falcons
9. Chicago Bears
10. New York Jets
11. Minnesota Vikings
12. Denver Broncos
13. Las Vegas Raiders
14. New Orleans Saints
15. Indianapolis Colts
16. Seattle Seahawks
17. Jacksonville Jaguars
18. Cincinnati Bengals
19. Los Angeles Rams
20. Pittsburgh Steelers
21. Miami Dolphins
22. Philadelphia Eagles
23. Minnesota Vikings
24. Dallas Cowboys
25. Green Bay Packers
26. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
27. Arizona Cardinals
28. Buffalo Bills
29. Detroit Lions
30. Baltimore Ravens
31. San Francisco 49ers
32. Kansas City Chiefs

Who are the quarterbacks available?

North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye

Image: North Carolina quarterback Drake Maye

Quarterbacks in demand. Aren’t they always?

The league is primed to welcome its next superstar name under center as Heisman Trophy-winning Caleb Williams enters touted as one of the most accomplished quarterback prospects of recent time, with the former USC play-caller looking destined to land with the Chicago Bears as the No 1 overall pick. In a world where every team wants their own Patrick Mahomes, Williams arrives as something of a similar mould to the angle-defying does-the-ridiculous man hurtling towards the NFL’s Mount Rushmore of quarterback greats.

North Carolina’s Drake Maye looms as a contender to go No 2 overall to the quarterback-needy Washington Commanders, offering a fearless gunslinging arm talent and the ability to create off-script when forced outside the pocket. If not Maye, then Jayden Daniels could yet follow Williams off the board after an impressive stock-lifting season with LSU in which he took significant strides as a threat from the pocket alongside his recognised explosiveness on the ground.

Michigan’s J.J. McCarthy is also projected as a first-round pick, while Washington’s Michael Penix Jr. and Oregon’s Bo Nix could also potentially push their way into the top 32 selections.

Who are the other big names involved?

Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr.

Image: Ohio State wide receiver Marvin Harrison Jr

College football’s conveyor belt of wide receiver talent is showing no let-up.

Ohio State’s Marvin Harrison Jr, son of Hall of Fame receiver and lifetime Indianapolis Colt Marvin Harrison, heads up the receiver room as one of the Draft’s most accomplished downfield threats with the ability to make tough catches in traffic, burn defenders with his deadly breaks, showcase elite ball tracking, support off-script plays with route extensions and hurt teams at every level of the field.

Behind him sits Washington’s Rome Odunze with his big-bodied frame and contested catch ability, as does LSU’s dynamic Malik Nabers with his devastating suddenness, elite body control and yards-after-catch explosiveness.

In an era of pass-catching tight ends, Georgia’s Brock Bowers stands to be an early first-round pick with his package of speed, slick route-running and power through contact.

Notre Dame’s Joe Alt, Washington’s Troy Fautanu and Penn State’s Olumuyiwa Fashanu represent the Draft’s leading left tackle options, with Taliese Fuaga having starred at right tackle during his time at Oregon State. Alabama’s Terrion Arnold and Toledo’s Quinyon Mitchell top the cornerback prospects, while Alabama’s Dallas Turner, UCLA’s Laiatu Latu, Penn State’s Chop Robinson and Florida State’s Jared Verse feature among the premium edge rush talent.

Late-round gems?

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Look back at some of the key moments from Brock Purdy’s career so far after being selected with the very last pick of the 2022 NFL Draft

Allow history to be a warning not to overlook days two and three in the NFL Draft, because a star might just be unearthed.

The Tom Brady story continues to stand the test of time as the unrivalled advocate for late-round joy, the Patriots using the 199th pick of the 2000 Draft to take a chance on the skinny kid out of Michigan who would go on to become a seven-time Super Bowl champion. More recently, the 49ers just reached the Super Bowl behind quarterback Brock Purdy, who became ‘Mr Irrelevant’ as the last pick of the 2022 Draft.

Meanwhile, take Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce as an example, a 2013 third-round pick who would go on to become a three-time Super Bowl champion while building a case as the greatest player to play his position. And speaking of tight ends, the San Francisco 49ers snagged a certain George Kittle – another superstar at the position – with the 146th pick in the 2017 Draft.

The recently retired Jason Kelce developed into arguably the greatest center in NFL history after being drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in round six in 2011. Rewind all the way back to 2010 and the Seahawks had uncovered a Legion of Boom member in fifth-round safety Kam Chancellor, who retired in 2018 a Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowler.

In other words – the NFL Draft is about far more than just day one!

Prepare for trades!

Eli Manning was selected No 1 overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2004 before being traded to the Giants for their first-round, No 4 overall selection Philip Rivers

Image: Eli Manning was selected No 1 overall by the San Diego Chargers in 2004 before being traded to the Giants for their first-round, No 4 overall selection Philip Rivers

Teams have the opportunity to offer up picks to other teams should they wish to move up the board in a bid to land a player of interest.

The Bears traded away a third-round pick, a fourth-round pick and a 2018 third-round pick to move from No 3 overall to No 2 overall and draft quarterback Mitchell Trubisky in 2017, overlooking the Chiefs’ three-time Super Bowl champion Patrick Mahomes in the process. Four years later they traded the 20th overall pick for the New York Giants’ 11th overall pick to move up and select quarterback Justin Fields, who has since moved on to Pittsburgh as Chicago close in on Caleb Williams.

The 49ers famously sent second and third-round picks to the New England Patriots in 1985 to move up from the 28th pick to No 16 and draft wide receiver Jerry Rice, who would go on to become a three-time Super Bowl champion and 13-time Pro Bowl selection.

And in one of the most famous mid-Draft trades in history, the then-San Diego Chargers agreed to swap their 2004 No 1 overall pick Eli Manning for the Giants’ No 4 pick Philip Rivers after Manning refused to play for the team. Manning went on to lead the Giants to two Super Bowl victories.

In a more recent case, the 2022 NFL Draft saw the Eagles give up the 18th overall pick as part of a deal to acquire Tennessee Titans wide receiver AJ Brown, who later played a starring role in Philly’s road to Super Bowl LVII.

Mixed success

For all the endless scouting and analytics, the Draft is by no means an exact science, Brady being the most obvious example as the New England Patriots spotted the talent that so many others had missed.

Some stories are less successful than others. In the 1998 Draft, the Indianapolis Colts selected Peyton Manning with the No 1 overall pick, the future Hall of Fame quarterback going on to win two Super Bowl rings and five MVP awards in his glistening career. In contrast, quarterback JaMarcus Russell lasted just three seasons with the then-Oakland Raiders after being selected first overall in 2007.

Draft night can also produce shock player slides. Aaron Rodgers was famously projected to become the No 1 overall pick to the 49ers at the 2005 Draft, before slipping all the way to 24th as Alex Smith was instead chosen first.

Texans offensive tackle Laremy Tunsil, a prospective No 1 pick in 2016, also fell to the Dolphins at No 13 after a video emerged 10 minutes before the draft of him supposedly inhaling marijuana. Anything can happen.

Watch all three days of the 2024 NFL Draft live on Sky Sports Action, beginning with Round One from 1am in the early hours of Friday morning.

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