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Everything You Need to Know About the NFL Before the Draft

The NFL Draft is just around the corner. Here’s everything you need to know before the big day.

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The 2024 NFL Draft is just around the corner! Soon every team in the league will be buoyed by the optimism that can only be found through the acquisition of a 22 year old left tackle from the Midwest. Lives will be changed. Before the day comes, let’s go over everything you will need to know before the NFL’s latest injection of youth slides into the bloodstream. 

The Offseason Thus Far

Here’s a quick rundown on the biggest moves made in Free Agency. Feel free to return to this article in July when you’ve forgotten that Jonathan Greenard is on the Minnesota Vikings now. Here are the major move makers (all contract information is according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport):

New York Jets

The New York Jets have gone all-in, bringing in lots of veterans to help out Aaron Rodgers as he returns from his achilles injury. New York brought in two high quality veteran tackles in Tyron Smith and Morgan Moses. They gave Aaron Rodgers a new weapon to pair with Garrett Wilson in former Chargers wideout Mike Williams. Most recently, the Jets traded with the Philadelphia Eagles for former All-Pro Haason Redick, one of the league’s best pass rushers. Lots of veterans on heavy contracts, suggesting an “all or nothing” type of year in East Rutherford, NJ. 

Philadelphia Eagles

Jason Kelce Retirement Speech – Credit: NFL on NBC YouTube

Speaking of those Eagles, Philly was busy in typical fashion this offseason, bringing in star running back Saquon Barkley from their rival New York Giants. While polarizing, the move solidifies the Eagles with one of the most star studded offenses in the league. On defense, Philly added breakout pass rusher Josh Huff, and brought back defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson. The man they call “Ceedy Deuce” was a major part of the Eagles’ run to the Super Bowl in 2022/23. The Eagles offseason was headlined by the retirement of two of their all time greats: center Jason Kelce and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Congrats, fellas!

Quarterbacks on the Move!

The biggest offseason moves often involve quarterbacks, and this offseason was no different. One of the greatest money makers in the history of sports, Kirk Cousins, has found a new home in Atlanta where he will be greeted by a plethora of young offensive talent. Also on the move was Russel Wilson, going from Denver to the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers were not done making quarterback moves however, trading a sixth round draft pick for Chicago’s Justin Fields. The Fields trade was the major offseason domino, as it provided some clarity on the number one pick in the draft. More on that later. 

Chicago Bears

Keenan Allen
Keenan Allen celebrates after a first down catch Credit: Shutterstock/Ringo Chiu

The Bears themselves got busy, trading for star veteran receiver Keenan Allen, signing running back D’andre Swift, and re-signing star cornerback Jaylon Johnson. Chicago is spending the money to put talent around the future number one pick

Green Bay Packers

The Bears’ rivals, the Green Bay Packers, continued their hot end to the season by spending big on the open market. They swapped out Aaron Jones for Josh Jacobs at running back, and brought in Xavier McKinney at safety. Big boy moves for a team looking to compete with the big boys next season. 

New York Giants

Despite losing their fan favorite running back, the New York Giants made one of the biggest moves of Free Agency, trading for Carolina’s star edge rusher Brian Burns and giving him a massive five year contract worth up to $150 million. 

Los Angeles Chargers

Jim Harbaugh at press conference
Jim Harbaugh at a press conference discussing plans for the Chargers Credit: Twitter/@Chargers

The Los Angeles Chargers made the biggest coaching move of the offseason, bringing in national champion Head Coach Jim Harbaugh. But, they also offloaded their three best offensive weapons in Mike Williams, Keenan Allen, and Austin Ekeler (signed with the Washington Commanders). This will make it all the more interesting to see how they use their draft picks. 

Houston Texans

My personal favorite move was the Houston Texans signing All-Pro pass rusher Danielle Hunter from the Minnesota Vikings. This will pair Hunter with 2023 Rookie of the Year winner Will Anderson Jr. Oh, and Houston traded for a star receiver for CJ Stroud to throw to in Stefon Diggs. I simply cannot wait to watch the Houston Texans next year. Never thought I would say that. 

Those are the major personnel moves in the last month in the NFL. Now for the fun stuff: rules! 

The New Rules

Perhaps the most polarizing part of the offseason has been the NFL’s introduction of two major new rules. First, and most controversial, among these in the banning of the “hip drop” tackle. 

The “hip drop” consists of a defender tackling a ball carrier by wrapping their arms around the carrier’s hips and using their body weight to bring them down. If that’s hard to picture, here’s a good example from last season: 

If you think that seems like a perfectly normal football tackle with no harmful intent, then you share the same opinion as much of the NFL. But, the hip drop is now illegal. It will be interesting to see how players adjust technique accordingly, and how stringent referees will be. 

The other rule change is the new kick-off. The NFL attempted to sneak this one by us on the first weekend of March Madness. Luckily for you dear readers, I am vigilant. Rather than explain the tweaks to kick-offs, here’s a good explanation someone much more in-the-know did. 

Shouldn’t make things too different. I certainly don’t mind it. Okay, let’s have some fun now…

The Draft Storylines

…And that will bring us to the main event. The 2024 NFL draft promises to be one of the most quarterback-rich drafts in years, and yet there is so much debate over who should go where. Pretend you are the bachelorette, and these men are competing for roses; make your own decision on who should be picked.

Caleb Williams (USC)

Caleb is the clubhouse favorite to be the number one overall pick. This has been the case for over a year. The former Heisman winner will likely bring his talents to the Chicago Bears now that they have moved on from Justin Fields. Caleb will enter into a situation with two excellent wide receivers in Keenan Allen and D.J. Moore, and a defense that finished last year as one of the best in the league. The Bears also have the ninth pick in the draft. It’s a bright future in Chicago. 

Drake Maye (North Carolina)

Drake Maye – Credit: NBC Sports Boston on YouTube

For most of the past year, Maye has been touted as the likely number two pick after Williams. However, all signs point to Jayden Daniels and possibly J.J. Mccarthy being drafted ahead of Maye now. Many have compared Maye to Justin Herbert, with his rare combination of size and arm strength. Whoever drafts him will still undoubtedly feel as if they have a franchise quarterback in their building. I will not be the one to tell them “no”. 

Jayden Daniels (LSU)

Jayden Daniels – Credit: NFL on YouTube

The 2023 Heisman Trophy winner has used his remarkable playmaking ability to fly up draft boards around the NFL, and is now considered likely to go to the Washington Commanders at number two. Daniels, while sometimes reckless with his scampering, proved himself to be one of the best dual threats in college football. He throws a beautiful deep ball, but can also get those yards with his legs if you really want him to. 

J.J. Mccarthy (Michigan)

J.J. Mccarthy – Credit: NFL on NBC on YouTube

Full disclosure, it has surprised me how much love Mccarthy has gotten in the pre-draft process. The main argument for Mccarthy being a top five pick based on his college days is that he simply “didn’t have to do much” at Michigan. It’s true, Michigan had the best rushing attack in the country last year. Still, Mccarthy is now considered one of the best prospects in this draft, and could go anywhere from pick two to fifteen. 

Bo Nix (Oregon)

Bo Nix was the leader of an excellent Oregon team last year, but there are questions as to whether he has the physical tools to make it big in the NFL. Scouts and front office members have spoken highly of his leadership and intangibles. He’s no stranger to big games, having played his many years of college ball at Auburn and Oregon. 

Michael Penix Jr. (Washington)

Two players on the Washington team hugging
Michael Penix Jr. hugging a teammate after a win at the All-State Sugar Bowl Credit: YouTube/ ESPN College Football

Penix lit College Football on fire last season as the ring leader for the best passing attack in the sport. Known for dead-eye accuracy and left handedness, Penix has drawn many comparisons to Phillip Rivers based on his delivery. His near-perfect game in the national semi-final against Texas still rattles around in my head. The draftability concerns with Penix center around his injury history. That said, he is one of my personal favorites. 

Those are the quarterbacks. Form your own opinions. Here are some of the best non-QB prospects:

Marvin Harrison Jr. (Ohio State):

Marvin Harrison Jr. – Credit: CFB ON FOX on Youtube

The son of one of the greatest wide receivers of all time, and one of the best physical prospects of the last decade. College football almost felt too easy for the man Gus Johnson termed “Maserati Marv”. Expected to be the first non-QB taken in the draft, Harrison will likely be suiting up for the Arizona Cardinals next year, catching passes from Kyler Murray. However…

Malik Nabers (LSU)

…Malik Nabers may have something to say about that. While Harrison has all the physical and fundamental skills, Nabers is the “big play” guy in this draft. The burner. The one play drive engine. The Tyreek Hill of the class. If a franchise prefers speed to precise fundamentals, we could see Nabers go above Marvin. 

Rome Odunze (Washington)

It’s a loaded wide receiver class, but one thing is clear: Rome Odunze is the coolest name on the board. He’s also an incredible receiver. Odunze is a route running technician. Think Davante Adams. He can separate from anybody. If not for the ridiculous physical talents of Nabers and Harrison, he would be the first wideout off the board in any other draft. 

Brock Bowers (Georgia)

Brock Bowers – Credit: CBS Sports on YouTube

One of the best college tight ends of all time, Bowers is the total package. Blocking, route running, hands, ability to run after the catch, he does it all. If any of you are unfamiliar with what a runaway train looks like, I encourage you to watch some Brock Bowers highlights. Truly an unstoppable force in the open field. 

Dallas Turner (Alabama)

I can’t leave you all without a defensive player, so why not dip into the Alabama defensive gold mine. Turner is obviously strong, but also has long arms that aid his pass rushing ability. His is quick and twitchy and affects both the run and pass. A true all around player. 

Joe Alt (Notre Dame):

Joe Alt running the 40 yard dash at the combine – Credit: NFL on YouTube

I ALSO couldn’t leave you all without an offensive lineman. This class is considered to be the deepest offensive tackle draft in decades, so here’s the consensus number one. First of all, the man is a giant. Six foot, nine inches, over 320 pounds. Long arms, quick first step. A physical gem if there ever was one. He’s a monster any team would be lucky to have. 

That does it for my preview of the NFL Draft! Everybody go enjoy NFL Christmas, I wish all of your teams the best of luck. Not you, Dallas. 

If you want to read more about the NFL check out: this article!

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